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The EWG's 2020 Safe Sunscreen Guide Reveals The Best Brands For Babies

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Summertime is the best time to have a baby. It doesn't get much better than splashing around in the sunshine with your little one — but it doesn't get much worse than trying to comfort a sunburned tot. You want to find the best sunscreen possible to protect your baby's delicate skin, but it can be tricky with so many options on the market. Luckily, the 2020 Safe Sunscreen Guide from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is here, filled with tips for staying protected, research reports, and an overview on current sunscreen standards, including the best sunscreen options for babies in particular.

First, the unsettling news: The EWG has heavily researched the safety of ingredients and the efficacy of various sunscreens, and there are quite a few brands lining store shelves that their experts don't recommend. Research Analyst Carla Burns tells Romper that product marketing is misleading when it comes to SPF value, which is important to parents. It might seem like SPF 100 provides twice as much protection as SPF 50 (which protects the skin from 98% of UVB rays), for example, but it actually only provides 1% more (99%).

When it comes to a baby's sensitive skin, SPF isn't the only thing parents should consider when selecting their sunscreen. Burns recommends selecting sunscreens that are fragrance-free and made using mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are the only two commonly-used ingredients found by the EWG to be both safe and effective. Additionally, she notes that sunscreen alone is not enough protection for babies (or anyone, really). Babies should also be wearing hats and tightly-woven (but loose fitting) clothes. Keep them in the shade as much as possible, and avoid mid-day sun exposure (from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Generously apply sunscreen to your baby's skin 15 minutes prior to going outside and every two hours after that (or after each dip in the water or towel dry, whichever comes first).

With all of these considerations, it's understandable if you're feeling overwhelmed. To help you out, the EWG published a list of the best sunscreens available for babies that meet all of their standards (many of the sunscreens approved by the FDA do not).

We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

1. Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 30+)

Adorable Baby Sunscreen lotion has no chemical ingredients and is safe to use on baby's face and body. It also offers broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, something Burns says parents should specifically look for in a sunscreen. It's only active ingredient is zinc oxide, and all inactive ingredients are plant-based and listed on the product's label.

2. Badger Baby Active Cream, Chamomile & Calendula (SPF 30)

Badger Baby Active Cream provides broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays, uses mineral zinc oxide, and is water resistant for up to 40 minutes. All inactive ingredients are deemed safe by the EWG and the lotion has been tested by pediatricians.

3. Erbaviva Organic Skincare Baby Sun Stick, Lavender Chamomile (SPF 30)

This sunscreen has a "good balance of UVA protection in relation to its SPF," according to the EWG. One thing to note about stick sunscreens, according to Burns, is that it can be difficult to determine how much you actually applied to the skin, so you'll want to be very generous with your application.

4. Just Skin Food Baby Beach Bum Sunscreen Stick (SPF 31)

The main ingredient in Just Skin Food's Baby Beach Bum Sunscreen stick is non-nano zinc oxide, which provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The inactive ingredients are all organic and even nourish the skin while also protecting it. Since it doesn't contain any water or oil, the product is thick when applied, even in stick form.

5. Raw Elements Baby + Kids Sunscreen Lotion Tin (SPF 30)

The EWG gave this sunscreen an "excellent" score in broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection and says the ingredients used in the product "pose a low health concern." The primary ingredient used is zinc oxide, and all other ingredients are plant-based.

6. Star Naturals Baby Natural Sunscreen Stick (SPF 25)

Star Naturals Baby Sunscreen Stick is made from zinc oxide and received a high rating from the EWG. Formulated to go on smooth without leaving a greasy residue behind, Star Naturals says this sun block is a "physical block" and is effective immediately upon application.

7. thinkbaby Body & Face Sunscreen Stick (SPF 30)

This sunscreen stick is made from all natural ingredients including zinc oxide to offer broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection that's water resistant for up to 80 minutes. For safety reasons, Thinkbaby doesn't make the formula in aerosol form (something Burns also urges parents to avoid).

8. TruBaby Water & Play Mineral Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 30+)

The EWG rated this zinc oxide mineral sunscreen among its best. TruKid says this suncreen is "free of chemicals, gluten, parabens, and phthalates" and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Since this is in lotion form, err on the side of caution and apply more than you think is necessary.

9. UV Natural Baby Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 30+)

UV Natural's baby sunscreen earned a high EWG rating for its excellent UVA protection and safe ingredients. The hydrating lotion is water resistant for up to two hours. UV Natural echoes Burns' advice: Apply sunscreen to your baby even on cloudy days, because UVA rays can reach through the clouds.

10. Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Vitamin E + D Enriched Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 35)

WaxHead's baby sunscreen is "completely free of toxins and petrochemicals," according to the manufacturer, and received a high EWG rating thanks to a "good balance of UVA protection in relation to its SPF" and excellent UVA protection overall.

All of these sunscreens have one thing in common: Their active ingredient is zinc oxide. But remember, even if protecting your baby's skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays starts with sunscreen, it's important to go beyond that with proper clothing and shade. (And avoid that midday sun.)

Expert:

Carla Burns, B.S. and M.S. Earth & Environmental Science, Research Analyst at Environmental Working Group