Need kid-friendly sunscreen? We've got the scoop. We've researched, purchased, and tested over 25 contenders before choosing the top 7 sunscreens available today. Our review includes mineral-based sunscreen offering broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and we evaluated each option for ease of use, consistency, eco-health, and more. Let our hard work make your life easier. Our recommendations will guide you to the perfect product that meets your needs, so you can feel good no matter which sunscreen you apply to your child's skin.
SPF Rating: 50 | Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 20%
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight & nearly sheer
REASONS TO AVOID
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. This product is free of gluten, soy, and dairy for those with allergies. It's easy to apply, comes out smoothly, and absorbs into the skin, leaving a nearly sheer appearance.
It can leave skin feeling slightly greasy, but it's less dramatic than some contenders in our lineup. We think this is a small price, 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.
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, shaking the container well before use is essential. Also, the Lizard's cap is frequently messy as the formula accumulates. Wiping the top after the 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 bigger bottle than much of the competition and could result in less frequent purchases, waste, and money spent.
We opted for lotions over sprays due to aerosolization, but we were excited to come across the Babyganics Sunscreen Spray, an air-powered non-aerosol spray. This spray is super easy to apply compared to lotions, 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, 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.
Aerolized Sunscreen Spray
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 suggest going that route since there's no need to worry about what you inhale.
Why You Should Trust Us
After multiple kid sunscreen reviews and nearly 100 hours of researching and testing, we've gained unique insight and information about this category. Our lineup is a result of over 25 potential contenders. The true colors of any sunscreen begin to emerge once you research ingredients and complete extensive testing, like the differences between chemical and mineral sunscreen products. Side-by-side comparisons help highlight differences among the top contenders. Each product was purchased and tested for ease of use, consistency, and eco-health.
Our BabyGearLab team includes outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy time in the sun but prefer to avoid all the negative things that can come with it. Leading our review is BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier is a board-certified pediatrician, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and a 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 kids under her care. Molly has used various kid and baby travel gear, including many UV-protection products. So, whether it's a trip to the swimming pool or a hike, Molly's experience with multiple products brings a unique perspective to our review.
Analysis and Test Results
We believe safe and effective sunscreen should have an easy-to-use bottle with no mess, a formula consistency that goes on smoothly, feels good to wear, and yet be eco-healthy. These factors drove testing and overall score results.
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 if your budget is tighter. 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, which will likely last much longer than some contenders. It also results in less waste as you will use one bottle instead of 2 or 3 of the competition. If you need a travel-sized container for airplane travel, the Thinkbaby SPF 50 is three ounces and reasonably priced. This contender does not rub in as easily, but we think you'll be happy with the price if you don't mind the white.
Remember to Reapply
It's easy for time to fly while you're having fun in the sun, resulting in missed reapplications. We recommend setting a timer on your phone as a reminder to reapply sunscreen to help avoid burns and unprotected overexposure. Swimming, sweating, and rubbing on things like backpacks, lifevests, and floaties, can increase how often you need to reapply. Better more often than less.
Ease of Use
While evaluating the lineup, we asked two critical questions: Is the bottle easy to use? Will it accidentally pop open in our favorite diaper bag or 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. This group includes Babo Botanicals Baby Skin, California Baby Super Sensitive, Thinkbaby SPF 50+, and TruKid Sunny Days Sport. 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. 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 because thinner formulas can run and leave lids messy, causing splatters when closing the top - an issue we did not experience with other contenders. The last thing you need is a messy bottle covered in sunscreen to shove back in your diaper bag or purse.
Not all sunscreen formulas are created equal. Some are easy and quick to apply, while others require effort and lots of excessive rubbing. Adding a wiggly worm child to the mix 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 sunscreen is to rub in, whether it spreads where you want it to, whether it leaves behind a white cast, and whether it creates a greasy or sticky feeling.
The Babyganics Sunscreen Spray is a top performer in this metric. Honestly, this option is a super-star. It performs how you hope effective sunscreen lotion would. It is easy to spray, spread, and cover with less of a white hue than the competition. And, unlike aerosol sprays, it is not airborne and won't be a nuisance to others nearby or sensitive respiratory tracks of little ones. Conversely, the TruKid Sunny Days Sport and California Baby Super Sensitive score the lowest 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.
A lot 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 closely looked 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). This non-profit corporation is committed to healthier living.
The Babo Botanicals Baby Skin is our highest-scoring product. It is made in the USA, is fragrance-free, and avoids gluten, soy, and dairy. The manufacturer's website also includes a long list of excluded ingredients; 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 EWG results in the competition.
The lowest-scoring product in our lineup is the Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection. The Aveeno has a lack of information compared to the others we tested. Although this product is fragrance-free, which is a positive thing, we couldn't locate any information (on the bottle or manufacturer's website) to determine if it is reef-friendly or free of common allergens. Also, to our knowledge, it doesn't use any organic ingredients.
Make Sunscreen Use a Habit
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 may decrease your child's risk of developing skin issues later. Talk to your child's pediatrician about sun protection and sunscreen, and make sun protection a habit.
Using an effective sunscreen is a requirement to avoid exposure to the determinantal effects of the sun's rays. However, finding a suitable option for delicate skin can be challenging. Things are more complicated if you want unscented or mineral-based selections. You may not have given it too much thought, but now that you have a little one to protect, it is even more critical to be prepared before heading outside to play in the sun. This review of potential competitors is a great place to find the right sunscreen for your goals and budget. We believe there is something for everyone in this review with chemical-free products and formulations for babies and sensitive skin.