Best Sunscreens for Kids and Babies of 2022
Finding the best sunscreen for kids and babies can be tricky, because everyone has different concerns and preferences. (Sensitive skin? Natural formulas? Check and check.) Since there are so many options available on the market, it can be hard to know which ones are actually safe for children.
We use our expertise in sunscreens and consulted with real parents and dermatologists to curate a list of the best sunscreens for kids and babies. But before we get to our recommendations, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1 # Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50
Neutrogena is a household name for sun protection for a reason: This formula is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and it comes recommended by pediatricians, dermatologists, and the National Eczema Association. “I have very sensitive skin and Neutrogena is one of the only brands I don’t have a reaction to, so I use the baby version for my kids,” says Lexie Sachs, Textiles Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Neutrogena even has a zinc oxide sunscreen for adults that performed well in our face sunscreen test.
2 # Kids Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+
This Thinksport formula is one of the most popular sunscreens for kids and babies, and it even has an average 4.5-star rating across over 2,000 Amazon reviews. At less than $9, it’s an affordable sunscreen considering mineral sunscreens are often pricier than chemical formulas.
One reviewer says it’s her favorite sunscreen to use on her son because it “goes on like moisturizer, doesn’t leave a white cast, and smells faintly like coconut (delicious!).” The brand also makes a version for babies, and both are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
3 # Baby & Child Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
4 # Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
A favorite of Good Housekeeping Institute chief technologist and mother of three Rachel Rothman, this Babyganics sunscreen is very transparent about what’s inside — the labels are easy to read and they clearly state what active ingredients are used. It’s plant-derived ingredients include a unique blend of tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin, and raspberry seed oils.
5 # Pure & Simple Baby Sunscreen SPF 50
This hypoallergenic sunscreen from Coppertone is the brand’s most gentle option. It’s formulated with soothing ingredients and zinc oxide and made without fragrance, so it won’t irritate your baby’s delicate skin. One reviewer says that they even got a bit of sunscreen in their eye and didn’t experience any burning sensation.
6 # Sunny Days Sport Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Another sunscreen that’s safe for kids and babies, TruKid’s mild mineral formula is great for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It claims to be safe for people with eczema since it’s unscented. Users especially liked how well the formula rubbed in and lasted in water compared to other mineral sunscreens. It’s water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, too.
7 # Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick
Sun Bum’s traditional sunscreen for adults is one of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, so this version for babies is another great pick. Stick sunscreens are especially good for kids’ or babies’ noses, says Sabina Wizemann, senior chemist at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab, since they can reach small spots (think scalp and ears, too). They’re also ideal for easily throwing in your beach bag or diaper bag, but Baby Bum also comes in lotion and spray form.
8 # Australian Sunscreen SPF 30
Parents love the protection this Blue Lizard sunscreen offers and the reminder to apply: The bottle turns pink when it’s in the presence of UV rays to remind you when it’s time to reapply. It shields your kid’s skin from the sun by using a combination of mineral zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. “I loved that it didn’t give me that burning sensation I have always gotten from sunscreens,”
How to choose safe sunscreens for kids and babies
✔️ Opt for mineral sunscreens, advises Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Most experts agree that mineral actives are better for sensitive skin types in general. Plus, the FDA announced last year that only two ingredients — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are considered safe and effective for sunscreen use. It’s also important to note that there are still 12 sunscreen ingredients that require more data before the FDA can call them safe and effective.
Since the FDA is currently reevaluating its position on the safety and efficacy of certain chemical sunscreen actives, “until they reach a more robust conclusion, we recommend that parents use sunscreens with mineral actives such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide on their kids,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D. Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab.
✔️ Choose lotions over sprays. When choosing the type of formulation, since applying spray sunscreen is difficult enough on adults, you’re better off with lotion and stick formulas for kids and babies. Plus, “spray sunscreens don’t tend to protect as well as lotions,” Dr. Engelman says.