Best Sunscreen for Babies
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$8.49 each at Amazon
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|Pros||Eco-healthy, easy to apply, nearly sheer||Super easy to spray and rub in, sheer and leaves no white cast||More for your money, non-greasy, easy to apply||Affordable||Fragrance-free and gentle, allergy-friendly, zinc-free|
|Cons||Slightly greasy||Not travel-friendly||Upfront cost||Not fragrance-free, requires effort to rub in||Expensive, thick and takes effort to rub in|
|Bottom Line||An eco-healthy sunscreen that goes on smoothly and leaves a sheer finish||Perhaps not backpack-friendly, this sunscreen is a stellar option to spray and rub in, leaving no white cast||Great non-greasy, non-sticky formula with a bottle that turns pink to remind you UV rays are present and it's time to apply||A sunscreen that offers a faint fruity scent and leaves a slight white tinge on the skin||Perhaps thick and visible, but this sensitive-skin friendly sunscreen is a potential match for kids who need to avoid common allergens or zinc|
|Rating Categories||Babo Botanicals Bab...||Babyganics Sunscree...||Blue Lizard Baby||Thinkbaby SPF 50||California Baby Sup...|
|Ease Of Use (35%)|
|Eco Health (25%)|
|Specs||Babo Botanicals Bab...||Babyganics Sunscree...||Blue Lizard Baby||Thinkbaby SPF 50||California Baby Sup...|
|Active Ingredient||Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (20%)||Octisalate (5%), Zinc Oxide (15%)||Titanium Dioxide (8%), Zinc Oxide (10%)||Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (20%)||Non-Nano Titanium Dioxide (12%)|
Overall Best for Babies & Kids
Babo Botanicals Baby Skin
Yes, we want to avoid sunburns, but we also want to feel good about what we're applying to delicate skin, and the Babo Botanicals Baby Skin is an eco-healthy option. This mineral-based product is fragrance-free and offers a broad-spectrum formulation with a water resistance of 80-minutes. For those with allergies, this product is free of gluten, soy, and dairy. It's easy to apply, comes out smoothly, and absorbs into the skin, leaving a nearly sheer appearance.
It can leave skin feeling ever so slightly greasy, but it's less dramatic than some contenders in our lineup. Plus, we think this is a small price to pay given the trade-off of a healthier option. As a reminder, this product is water-resistant, not waterproof, so if you're planning a pool day, be sure to reapply following the product's directions. We highly recommend this product as an all-around great sunscreen for babies and kids.
Best Bang for the Buck
Blue Lizard Baby
In addition to its fun trademark bottle that turns color when exposed to UV rays, there is a lot to love about Blue Lizard Baby. It contains a mixture of active mineral ingredients (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) that are excellent for full spectrum UVA/UVB coverage. It is also fragrance-free and contains no gluten, making it a potential fit for those with sensitivities. We appreciate that it rubs in easily (especially for a mineral-based product), and its oil-water emulsion consistency is not greasy or sticky. This brand is also available in a Blue Lizard Sensitive formulation with the same active ingredients, SPF rating, and performance.
Since the formulation can separate, it is essential to shake the container well before use. Also, the Lizard's cap is frequently messy as formula accumulates. Wiping the top after application can help, but we wish the extra step weren't needed. If you don't mind navigating this issue, you may find this option satisfactory for your needs. Overall, Blue Lizard offers a larger bottle than much of the competition and could result in less frequent purchases, waste, and money spent.
Best Spray Option
Babyganics Sunscreen Spray
We opt for lotions over sprays due to aerosolization, but we were super excited to come across the Babyganics Sunscreen Spray, a non-aerosol spray that is air-powered. Compared to lotions, this spray is super easy to apply, and we genuinely enjoy how effortless it is to spread and cover an area. Plus, it's practically transparent on the skin, which may matter for those who don't like the white hue look. And older children preferred this option when applying themselves during testing.
One downfall of this product is that the plastic cap can easily fall off in a bag, and since it doesn't take much effort to spray the bottle, a mess can occur. Also, this option includes Octisalate. While the jury is out on this chemical, it could be a no-go for those limiting chemicals near little ones and anyone erring on the side of caution. Since we don't have any information about this ingredient either, we don't know if it concerns us. As a reminder, while using this product, be mindful of wind and keep it away from faces. It is helpful to spray the product into your hands before applying it to your child's face or nearby. Nonetheless, if you seek a non-aerosol spray, this option may fit your needs.
Aerosolized sunscreen sprays may ease application, but they create a cloud with particles so small you can inhale them. We don't think it is good to inhale aerosolized chemicals, so we didn't include aerosol products in our review. Since products come in non-aerosolized versions, we highly suggest going that route since there's no need to worry about what you inhale.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our BabyGearLab team includes outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy time in the sun but prefer to avoid all the negative things associated with it. Leading our review is BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a board-certified pediatrician, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and mother of two children. Between motherhood and her pediatrician background, Dr. Spurrier uses her knowledge and experience to guide her product choices, focusing on eco-health and efficacy. Also assisting and contributing to our review are Senior Review Editors, Wendy Schmitz and Molly Bradac. Wendy is a mother of two children and has a degree in biology. She uses her education to help research ingredients from a scientific perspective and a mother's point of view. With a child with Celiac disease, Wendy has a keen eye for selecting products with fewer ingredients and those suitable for sensitive skin or allergies that are also easy to use and budget-friendly. Molly is an experienced childcare provider supporting families over the past 15 years and has created outdoor adventures for children under her care. Molly has used various kid-friendly UV-protection products for trips. So, whether it's a trip to the swimming pool or hike, Molly's experience with multiple products brings a unique perspective to our review.
After multiple kid sunscreen reviews and nearly 100 hours of researching and testing, we've gained unique inside details into this category. Our lineup comes from the results of over 25 potential contenders. Each product was purchased and tested side-by-side for bottle ease of use, consistency, and eco-health.
Analysis and Test Results
The true colors of any sunscreen begin to emerge once you research ingredients and complete extensive testing. Side-by-side comparisons also help highlight differences among the top contenders. We believe a top-notch sunscreen should have an easy-to-use bottle that causes no mess, a formula consistency that goes on smooth and feels good to wear, and yet be eco-healthy. Yes, we want to be worry-free about what we are applying to children's skin. These factors drove our testing and a product's overall score results from a weighted equation of scores within these metrics.
Most people think sunscreen is for summertime; however, that's not the case. It's vital to apply rain or shine whenever you spend time outdoors. Plus, you'll need to frequently reapply sunscreen according to a product's directions to maintain sun protection. So, a product's price tag could be a driving factor in the decision-making process. Among the competition, the Blue Lizard Baby may appear costly, but given its quantity and price per ounce, this option is one of the most budget-friendly. You're getting the most for your money, and it will likely last much longer than some contenders. It also results in less waste as you will use one bottle in place of 2 or 3 of the competition. If you need a travel-sized container for airplane travel, the Thinkbaby SPF 50+ is 3 oz. and reasonably priced. This contender does not rub in as easily, but if you don't mind the white, we think you'll be happy with the price.
It's easy for time to fly while you're having fun in the sun; therefore, set a timer on your phone as a reminder to reapply sunscreen to avoid burns and unprotected overexposure.
Ease of Use
While evaluating the lineup, we asked ourselves two important questions: Is the bottle easy to use? Will it accidentally pop open in your beach bag? Because let's face it, mineral-based products can stain, which is far from ideal. After hands-on testing and repetitious use, we experienced details that make some products more accessible to use than others.
We did not have one outstanding performer in this metric, but a group of products held the highest-scoring spot sharing similar scores of 8 out of 10. This group includes Babo Botanicals Baby Skin, California Baby Super Sensitive, Thinkbaby SPF 50+, and TruKid Sunny Days Sports. These products have similar containers that feel sturdy, have secure lids, and are easy to use.
The lowest-scoring product is the Babyganics Sunscreen Spray with a score of 3 out of 10. This product has a plastic top that can easily pop off, and since it doesn't take much pressure to spray this bottle, we experienced repeated backpack messes throughout a two-week summer camp. These messes mean a waste of product and time spent in cleanup mode.
The Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection and Blue Lizard Baby also rank low due to thinner formulas that can run and leave lids messy, causing splatters when closing the top. An issue we did not experience with other contenders.
Not all sunscreen formulas are created equal. Some are easy and quick to apply, while others require effort. Plus, when you add a wiggly worm child to the mix, it can be even more challenging. Lucky for you, we did the applying and comparing, so you know the insider details. To score this metric, we considered how easy the formula is to rub in, does it spread where you want it, does it leave a white cast, and does it absorb or leave the skin feeling greasy or sticky.
The Babyganics Sunscreen Spray is a top-performer in this metric, with 9 out of 10. Honestly, this option is a super-star. It performs how you hope a top-notch sunscreen lotion would. It is easy to spray, spread, and cover with less of a white hue than the competition. On the flip side, the TruKid Sunny Days Sport and California Baby Super Sensitive share scores of 2 out of 10, making them the lowest scoring for consistency. With thick formula consistencies, they require more elbow grease to spread and rub in, plus they leave a more noticeable white hue on the skin.
There's a lot that goes into learning about sunscreens and assessing a product's eco-health, particularly its earth-friendly and health-conscious qualities. Lucky for you, we dove in and took a very close look at each product's label and ingredients. To score the competition, we researched and compared the lineup for multiple factors, such as whether or not it is USA-made, reef-friendly, fragrance-free, uses organic ingredients, free of common allergens, and its rating on the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit corporation that is committed to healthier living.
The Babo Botanicals Baby Skin is our highest-scoring product with a score of 9 of 10, and there are many reasons why we admire this product. It is made in the USA, fragrance-free, and avoids gluten, soy, and dairy. The manufacturer's website also includes a long list of excluded ingredients, and we appreciate this transparency. According to the EWG, this product has a rating of 2 (they use a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst). This option has one of the best in the competition.
The lowest-scoring product in our lineup is the Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection with a score of 4 out of 10. For this product, there was a lack of information compared to others. Although this product is fragrance-free, which is positive, we couldn't locate any information (on the bottle or manufacturer's website) if it is reef-friendly or free of common allergens. Also, to our knowledge, it doesn't use any organic ingredients.
Sun damage can occur any time of the year, and it's cumulative, meaning it can build up as time passes. Therefore, avoiding sun damage now may decrease your child's risk of developing skin issues later in life. Talk to your child's pediatrician about sun protection and sunscreen, and make sun protection a habit.
Sunscreen is necessary to avoid the sun's determinantal effects, but it can be challenging to find an effective product that is also suitable for delicate baby skin. You may not have given it too much thought in the past, but now that you have a little one to protect, it should be foremost in your mind before hitting adventures in the great outdoors. We think this review of potential contenders is a great place to find the right option for your goals and budget. With chemical-free products and options for sensitive skin, there is something for everyone in this review.
— Molly Bradac