A little girl on a float

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“It is important to use sunscreen throughout the year, even in the summer. The chance of skin damage is real if the sun’s rays reach our planet.”

Sunscreen is vital to protecting kids’ sensitive skin. Children have extra sensitive skin that’s more susceptible to damage from the sun’s rays and is more likely to be irritated by chemicals.

It is important to choose the right sunscreen for the whole family, no matter what time of year it is.

The purpose of sunscreen is to prevent sunburns and to prevent the long-term effects of sun damage, such as premature aging and increased risk of skin cancer.

It is important to protect your child from the sun because it will benefit them for a lifetime.

A quick ray refresher

The sun emits two different types of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), both types of rays can lead to skin cancer. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, while UVA rays cause deeper, longer-term damage that leads to premature skin aging. Sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum” helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Sunscreen performs the same function as if it were labeled for kids. Broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen for kids will provide the same level of protection as broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen for adults. The active ingredients are the same.

The biggest difference is that kids sunscreen is formulated with sensitive skin in mind so it is less likely to have ingredients that are harmful to the skin. Sunscreen for children may come in more water-resistant or easy application options.

“Experts agree that additional measures are needed to protect your child from sun damage. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are all great ways to prevent harm from the sun’s rays.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t recommend sunscreen for infants under 6 months of age. Infants should have their skin covered by hats and loose, long-sleeved clothing or be kept out of the sun whenever possible, such as under an umbrella or shady tree, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

There are a few things to keep in mind for older babies and children.


Sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 is the minimum recommended by the AAP — although the AAD suggests using SPF 30 or higher. “Choose at least SPF 30 with broad-spectrum protection, which means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays,” advises Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

SPFs higher than 50 have no additional benefit shown.

Mineral formulas

Mineral sunscreens, which contain active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are the most recommended for children as they are less irritating for sensitive skin.

“They also reduce the risk of harmful chemical exposure by blocking the sun’s rays from entering the skin.”

While most sunscreen ingredients are either considered generally safe or are undergoing further research, you should try to avoid sunscreens with the ingredient oxybenzone. This chemical may have hormonal properties, says the AAP.

Sunscreen type

Sunscreens for kids come in a few options, like lotions, sprays, and sticks. So which is best? “Lotions or creams help ensure uniform coverage on the body, so those are preferred,” says Dr. Joyce Teng, chief scientific officer of Evereden and head of pediatric dermatology at Stanford Medical School. If you opt for the convenience of a spray, she recommends applying it to one part of the body at a time and rubbing it in evenly so you don’t miss a spot.

Small children can get good protection over their nose, ears, and area close to their eyes with either a stick or a cream.

Water resistance

Kids who like to spend their warm days in the pool, playing with water or working up a sweat are ideal for water-resistant sunscreens.

However, no sunscreen is truly waterproof and should be reapplied plentifully and often when outdoors. The AAD recommends reapplying sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside, and every 2 hours while you’re outside.

We consulted the dermatologists. We tested products ourselves and pored over reviews, parents and reviews to bring you a list of the top sunscreens for your child. We made sure that each product was following the guidelines.

  • Broad-spectrum coverage.
  • A minimum SPF of 30 is required.
  • No known harmful ingredients.
  • It is relatively easy to apply to wiggly children.

We are here to make this one a little easier, because there are many decisions to be made when it comes to parenting. Find the best sunscreen for your child.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$15
  • $$$ = over $15

Best overall

Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50+
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

“The Think baby mineral sunscreen is a favorite of the parents we surveyed. It rubs in better than many other zinc oxide products, according to kids. This is a great choice if you don’t want a bunch of ghosts in your pictures.”

It has an SPF of 50, is highly rated ingredient safety, and is reef-friendly. Many adults with sensitive skin use this sunscreen for their faces, as it is a light and absorbable formula with skin-friendly ingredients.

Best for sensitive skin

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

The all-mineral sunscreen is a great option for kids. It contains oat extract to soothe, protect, and calm the skin.

Boasting the National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance, this sensitive skin sunscreen lotion is SPF 50 and uses zinc oxide for protection. While it is a little harder to rub in (leaving a white cast) than some of our other choices, it is non-greasy and doesn’t have a “sunscreen smell,” as reported by customers.

“Parents felt that it left their child’s skin softer and did not make them feel bad. This is one of the least expensive and most highly rated products on our list, which is a win.”

Best for eczema

CeraVe Baby Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 45
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

CeraVe is a brand that comes highly recommended by the dermatologists, and their mineral baby sunscreen gets top marks for being friendly to sensitive skin, including little ones with eczema.

An active ingredient in this sunscreen is hyaluronic acid, which has many benefits such as locking moisture into the skin’s cells. If your child has eczema, you know how important moisture is when it comes to easing uncomfortable feelings of dryness.

“This sunscreen uses mineral protection in a formula that contains ceramides,” says Zeichner, “which are natural fats found in the outer skin layer that fill in cracks between skin cells and maintain a healthy skin barrier.” The sunscreen, which is on the pricier side, uses three types of ceramides. Like hyaluronic acid, they lock moisture into the cells, helping to repair skin that’s irritated by eczema.

This is an excellent choice for children with dry skin or those with an allergy to the sun.

Best budget-friendly buy

Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

“It feels good to go with a brand like Coppertone when the price is right. The man agrees. You don’t have to pay a lot to get a good sunscreen. The drugstore brand has a low price tag but high levels of protection from the sun.”

Coppertone’s Pure & Simple formula is made with zinc oxide and natural botanicals (like tea leaf and sea kelp) and is free of fragrance and oxybenzone.

“The sunscreen is loved by parents because it protects against the sun’s harmful rays for 80 minutes and it doesn’t leave a white sheen.”

Best for on the go

Babo Botanicals Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Stick

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: stick

The mineral sunscreen stick from Babo Botanicals is great for sensitive facial skin, and it is the easiest way to get sunscreen onto little faces. It has an SPF of 50 and is fragrance-free.

“Many parents like the smooth application and don’t mind sticky lotion. The stick is small and high in price, but it should last a while if you only use it on your child’s face.”

Best spray

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen for Extra Sensitive Skin

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: spray

Although it seems like the easiest way to coat a wiggly 2-year-old, spray-on sunscreen isn’t ideal for babies or younger children. The ingredients in sunscreen are good for the skin, but not great for inhaling, notes the AAD, and asking small children to hold their breath is sometimes an impossible task. It’s also harder to be sure you’ve applied the product evenly, so you may end up missing areas that will get burned.

It is hard to beat the less-mess application of spray sunscreen for older kids. The Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen is our top pick. It goes on clear, is gentle on sensitive skin, and is eco-friendly.

This eco-conscious choice comes with a considerably higher price tag than some other spray options, but it can be purchased in a more budget-friendly two-pack.

Best stick sunscreen

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 60
  • Sunscreen type: stick

Stick sunscreen options are convenient for tossing in your bag on the go, and their ease of use is unparalleled, even though they are not as economical as stick sunscreen.

It is hard to keep kids active enough to apply sunscreen, and a stick can make it much faster.

“The formula that this one delivers is a full rub in that doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin.”

The SPF 60 broad-spectrum sunscreen stick from Neutrogena is mineral-based and free from harmful ingredients. It is also fragrance-free and has the NEA Seal of Acceptance, so it is unlikely to irritate your little person’s sensitive skin.

Best for travel

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: stick

Another great choice for easy application, Aveeno’s baby sunscreen stick is highly ranked by parents for being sensitive-skin-friendly. It’s also fragrance- and oil-free and features the NEA Seal of Acceptance. The stick form makes it easy to throw in a bag, keep in a glove box, or take in a suitcase without worrying it will leak.

“This option is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. You might have to stock up so you don’t run out of pocket-sized sticks, but there’s nothing not to like.”

Best all-natural formula

Badger Baby Broad Spectrum Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

The sunscreen cream from Badger provides a host of benefits that we have never found in any other product, and it is a very expensive product.

This cream has five ingredients, which are all organic, reef-friendly, and non-GMO. This is a good choice if you want to use natural ingredients.

The formula is simple and uses all-natural ingredients. The sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays and it also has vitamins E, sunflower oil, and beeswax.

This sunscreen has a lower SPF than our list, coming in at SPF 30. It only lasts for 40 minutes, so you will want to make sure you reapply frequently if your child is playing in the water.

Best scent

Babyganics SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

“The SPF 50 sunscreen uses minerals to block the sun’s rays. A blend of seed oil and skin care products is what you get. It has a nice scent and is a nice addition to the smell of sunscreen.”

“The sunscreen is rated highly by parents for its ease of application, not having a funky smell, and feel-good ingredients. A high water-resistance rating of up to 80 minutes means you won’t have to worry about reapplying as often as some other products.”

Best fragrance-free formula

Kabana Organic Green Screen Original Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 32
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

Green Screen Original is a great choice for natural ingredients and being allergy-friendly.

It features mostly organic ingredients, is reef-friendly and biodegradable, and claims to be gluten-free, vegan, corn-free, and fragrance-free. It contains only eight ingredients and uses non-nano zinc oxide to provide Broad-spectrum coverage. with an SPF of 32.

Easiest to apply

Evereden Premium Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: lotion

This sunscreen is made with mineral-based ingredients and is quick absorbing. This sunscreen is easy to apply and it is not thick. She says the formula uses non-nano zinc and a proprietary blend of superfoods that help maintain skin hydration without leaving behind a tacky feel.

It is non-streaky and has a light cucumber scent, which parents and kids enjoy.

The recommended amount of sunscreen for adults is 1 ounce, which is about one shot glass. Children need at least half the amount. It is important to apply sunscreen evenly on all exposed skin, as well as spots that are just under the clothing line, such as around shirt collar and sleeves.

“Before your children leave the house, apply sunscreen to them so they don’t get burnt.”

Regular reapplication is important. She says to always re-apply at least once.

Sun protection is important for kids because they are more likely to get skin cancer later in life if they get sunburns when they are young. Sun safety is more than just sunscreen.

Children should wear wide-rimmed hats when they are in the sun. It is a good idea to cover up with sun-protective clothing at midday when the UV rays are at their strongest. Children should be kept indoors or in shady spots during peak hours.

“Kid-sized sunglasses with UV protection will help protect your child’s eyes.”

What is the best sunscreen for kids?

“The best sunscreen is the one that you will use. If you travel or your kids play sports, you should put a sunscreen stick in the glove compartment of the car and one in your purse. If you don’t use sunscreens with chemicals or fragrances, you should keep your favorite mineral sunscreen in your bag.”

Pick an option that is applicable to your lifestyle.

What’s the difference between kids’ and babies’ sunscreen?

Mineral based sunscreens are less irritating than other types of sunscreens, so they are popular for baby skin. As children get older, they may tolerate chemical blockers, so you will see more chemical sunscreens with water-resistant claims.

“She says that the FDA doesn’t recommend sunscreen for babies under 6 months of age. Children should be protected with shade and protective clothing.”

Who should use sunscreen?

The AAD recommends that all children wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. There is a myth that claims children with darker skin do not need to wear sunscreen. While darker skin has more sun-protective melanin, it can get painfully sunburned, too. Keep babies younger than 6 months old out of the direct sun.

How much sunscreen do I need to apply?

According to the AAD, most people do not apply as much sunscreen as they should.

You should apply sunscreen to all of your skin. Adults need about 1 ounce to fully cover their bodies. Kids need less than half of that amount.

The lips and tops of ears are easy to forget.

It is a win-WIN for your kids to protect their skin while enjoying healthy outdoor activity, because there are a lot of proven sunscreen options.

In addition to seeking shade and wearing protective hats and clothing, if you follow the expert recommendations for applying sunscreen with Broad-spectrum coverage. (at least SPF 30), your kids should be good to go on their next outdoor adventure.