Here's why: the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently announced that they're investigating dangers associated with using spray sunscreen. This is because spray sunscreen can catch fire, infants can inhale their harmful chemicals, and it's difficult to see where you've missed during application. Sounds pretty bad, right!?
To find the best sunscreens for kids, we considered several factors in our reviews: chemical exposure, sunscreen effectiveness, length of protection, resilience during water play, the difficulty of application, oily hand-feel, and of course, price! For more details about how we considered these factors in our hands-on reviews, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Otherwise, let's get into the results!
- Top 5 Sunscreens Comparison Table
- 1. Best Baby Sunscreen Overall: Baby Bum
- 2. Blue Lizard Sunscreen
- 3. ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen
- 4. Alba Botanica Mineral Sunscreen
- 5. Badger Balm Kids Sunscreen
- 6. Babyganics Pure Sunscreen
- Things to Consider
- Chemicals in Sunscreen
- Sunscreens to Avoid
- Sunscreens that are OK
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen|
|#2. Blue Lizard Baby & Kid|
|#3. ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen|
|#4. Alba Botanica Mineral|
|#5. Badger Balm Kids|
Here are the Best Kids Sunscreens of 2020!
Trust the Bum! Sun Bum has been making fantastic sunscreen for babies, kids, and adults for about a decade now, and we've been consistently impressed with the quality and effectiveness of their products. They make plant-based sunscreen formulas that are reef friendly, cruelty-free, vegan, gluten free, hypoallergenic, and free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, fragrances, and silicone. What's left for them to include? Mineral-based protection with 20% zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea butter, and other ingredients that are allergy- and developmentally-friendly. In fact, the Environmental Working Group's safety database scores this sunscreen a 1, which means it has the lowest possible toxicity and bioaccumulation. That makes us feel pretty good about this baby sunscreen. But how does it perform? Like any mineral-based sunscreen, it's thick and a bit of a chore to apply; that's not surprising given the 20% zinc oxide protection. It will leave a bit of a faint white film, but you'll be happy you did because the protection is truly fantastic. We applied and spent several hours in the sun and we were completely protected. It worked in the pool and on the beach, without any issues of lowered effectiveness. And we liked that it didn't have any harsh fragrances, only the mild smell of cocoa butter. This sunscreen is on the more expensive side, coming in at about $3.50 per ounce. Cons? Like most sunscreens, intense sweating (beach volleyball, anyone?) will cause it to drip into the eyes and cause some stinging, so we always suggest keeping a towel nearby to wipe sweat from your brow. That's pretty unlikely with babies, but it's worth mentioning. Overall, this is an excellent sunscreen that not only works extremely well, but also makes us feel good about buying it and gives us peace of mind that we're not applying harsh chemicals to our baby's sensitive skin. Worth the cost? We'll let you decide! Interested? You can check out this Blue Lizard sunscreen here.
This is a sensitive, and chemical and fragrance-free sunblock option for kids and adults alike. What they mean by chemical free is it contains only the relatively low-risk chemical pigments Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Blue Lizard also went paraben-free as of 2012, which is somewhat rare on the sunscreen market. In our tests we found that it spread easily for a non-chemical sunscreen, which tends to be thicker than other sunscreens. It also worked at blocking the sun quite well. Our 3 test kiddos also had no adverse skin reactions, and none was even slightly pink by the end of the day (save for some toe areas we neglected to reach!). None of them complained about any eye stinging either, which I will say is rare in our household! So overall, this seems like a great option, and there are some great reasons to have it as the best sunscreen for kids. It doesn't contain any of the high-risk chemicals, yet still does a great job preventing sunburn without burning a big hole in your wallet (maybe a little hole, but we think one that's worth it). We used an 8.75 oz tube that we found for about $25 online, making it about $2.85/ounce. Also check out Blue Lizard's FACE version and their super sensitive BABY sunscreen version. Interested? You can check out this Blue Lizard sunscreen here.
Here is another excellent sensitive and chemical free sunblock option, a second-best sunscreen for kids, coming in at a bit more expensive than Blue Lizard. The Think Baby sunscreen only uses Zinc Oxide, one of the relatively low-risk chemical pigments that offer excellent sun protection. In fact, this particular sunscreen was the first to pass the Whole Foods rigid sunscreen inspection process (premium care requirements), and while we may not be huge fans of Whole Foods they're known to be quite picky with what they consider Health & Beauty products. This sunscreen offers the highest possible protection of 50+ SPF, with the highest possible level of water resistance (80 minutes)! Note that these are FDA-established maximums for all sunscreens. In our tests, we found it quite thick and creamy and a bit difficult to spread (but certainly possible with some effort). We didn't think it worked quite as well as the Blue Lizard, as one of our test kids was a bit pink on the shoulders after a day on the beach. But it was a hot day, and we didn't follow the instructions to re-apply every couple of hours (we did twice for the entire day). Overall, we think this is an excellent and effective sunscreen option. It is basically tied with #1 on our list except for the price. We use a 3 oz tube that we found for about $10 online, making it about $3.33 per ounce. By comparison, this is about twice the cost per ounce vs Blue Lizard; seems like a little, but it adds up for larger tubes. Interested? You can check out this Think Baby sunscreen here.
We absolutely love Alba Botanica, especially their sunscreen options for adults, like their Hawaiian Sunscreen SPF 45, which smells and works great without any high-risk chemicals. This third best sunscreen for kids is something Alba has marketed as "Mineral Sunblock" which is the same as #1 and #2, basically meaning that it uses Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide instead of some of the higher risk chemicals. Note that this isn't the case with all of their Kids sunscreens: their SPF 45 version contains some of the moderate-risk chemicals listed above. This particular one, however, is quite good. It contains no parabens, artificial colors, or other harmful active or inactive ingredients. It is 100% vegetarian (no animal byproducts). It offers 40 minutes of water protection and goes on smooth and thick without any oily residue. We also loved that it had very little odor. In our testing, it performed very well, protecting the 2 kids that used it on the beach (reapplied every 2 hours), without any evidence of sunburn. Overall, this is a great option. It is listed third for a few reasons. First, it's somewhat harder to find than the others. Second, we didn't like that some of the Alba Botanica Kids versions had some of the moderate-risk chemicals. However, it is a bit cheaper than the others, and we found it online for around $10 for 4 ounces, making it about $2.50 per ounce. Interested? You can check out the Alba Botanica Kids sunscreen here.
Also see the Baby version here. This is the simplest, 100% natural, and 95% organic baby and kid sunscreen on our list. As the fourth best sunscreen for kids, the Badger Balm sunscreen only contains 6 ingredients, the first being over 18% Zinc Oxide (that's a high amount), and the rest some fancy oils and natural scents of citrus and vanilla. We thought it smelled great and was a refreshingly simple option in an otherwise chemical-saturated sunscreen market. It offers 40 minutes of water protection. In our testing, we thought that it was rather thick and a bit too chalky white for our tastes. It also rubbed off a bit onto our swim-suits (which washed off fine later). It did awesome in our beach testing though, with no signs of sunburn on our little ones, though we did reapply every 60-90 minutes or so. We also thought the scent was a bit overwhelming for one of our kids in particular, but not the other. The price was also a bit high, around $5 per ounce on average; the tube we tested was only 2.9 oz and cost us about $14. Note that Badger also makes a Baby Badger formula with chamomile rather than vanilla scent. We haven't tried that one but will update when we do. Interested? You can check out the Badger Balm Kids sunscreen here.
Note that Babyganics has several sunscreen options, but only two of the ones we've found actually use only mineral-based active ingredients. These are the Mineral-based Lotion and the Mineral-based Stick. While all of the Babyganics options do not include PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances, and nano-particles, some of them do use active sunscreen ingredients other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Like all sunscreens using only mineral-based active ingredients, the Babyganics Pure Mineral-Based Sunscreen goes on quite thick but does rub in with a little effort. If it's not rubbing in all the way, you're probably using too much. In our tests, we found some good reasons to list it here as the sixth best kid's sunscreen: we found that it is excellent for highly sensitive skin, it doesn't contain many common irritants, and it does an excellent job protecting against sunburns. Our primary gripe with this sunscreen option is that the brand name "Babyganics" implies that this is an organic option, which it is not. That misled us and likely many others; thus, while they're making a great product, we're not keen on their ethical values. In our testing, we re-applied every 40 minutes with use in water (pool or beach), and every couple of hours without use in water. We didn't experience any pinkness or burns. And the 2-pack of Babyganics sunscreen we purchased was about $15 for a total of 12 ounces, making this the cheapest on the list at about $1.25 per ounce. Interested? You can check out the Babyganics sunscreen here.
Here are some points to consider when finding the best sunscreen:
There seem to be three primary risks of using spray sunscreen:
1. The risk of spray sunscreen catching fire after it is applied. The FDA reports at least 5 incidents of bodies being burned following spray sunscreen use (from a grill, cigarette, etc.).
2. The risk of chemical inhalation during application. There is concern that inhaling aerosol-borne chemical particulate matter can be dangerous for kids' health.
3. The difficulty of seeing where you've applied sunscreen. It is hard to tell whether your kid is entirely covered when you use spray sunscreen, leading to a risk of sunburn.
Consumer Reports recommends not using spray sunblock until the FDA completes its full investigation into these issues.
Chemicals in All Sunscreen! We want to be clear that we don't know of any sunscreen options that contain no chemicals whatsoever. Whether it's oxybenzone or avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, to protect against burns and lower your risk of melanoma you'll be applying chemicals directly to your skin. Chemicals happen to be very effective at blocking the sun's harmful rays, but some are more toxic than others
Sunscreen Chemicals to avoid: Here are the key sunscreen chemicals to avoid, according to the Environmental Working Group: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene. Many of these tend to penetrate the skin, enter the bloodstream, and even cross the blood-brain and blood-breastmilk barrier. They also tend to be related to hormone disruption and skin allergies. And let's not forget methylisothiazolinone and parabens.
Safe Sunscreen Chemicals: Here are the relatively low-risk sunscreen chemicals, according to the same group: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone, and Mexoryl SX. There is no evidence of hormone disruption for these and they have little to no skin penetration. But each is highly effective at preventing sunburn. The best way to avoid a sunburn is to stay out of the sun or keep your body covered with clothing! But that's hard to accomplish, especially if you have one of the best trampolines for kids in your yard! In addition to sunscreen, you might also want to consider some mosquito repellent for kids when they're outdoors, especially in mosquito prone areas or they're out near dawn or dusk.