Sun Protection

little girl getting sunblock put on her face, the safest sunscreens for children according to the ew...
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The 15 Safest Sunscreens For Children, According To The EWG

Because sun protection is so important.

Originally Published: 
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As the temperature starts to soar, one thing comes to mind: sunscreen. But when you go through the aisles at your store to purchase one, do you really know what you’re looking for? You will now, because the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2022 list of the best sunscreens for children, from babies to older kids, to help keep your child’s skin safe.

Just because a sunscreen is stocked on store shelves doesn’t mean that it will block the sun’s rays — or that it’s safe. The EWG reviewed over 1,850 sunscreens, and guess how many met their stringent standards? Only one in four. In fact, an EWG peer-reviewed study from 2021 found that most sunscreens don’t provide adequate sun protection, despite what their SPF says. Thankfully, sunscreens that are for babies and kids fare slightly better, with one in three meeting the EWG’s safety criteria.

Still, you should know what to look for when it comes to selecting sunscreens. “In general, babies under 6 months should avoid direct sun and wear sun protective clothing,” Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, tells Romper. “Children over 6 months of age should wear SPF 30 sunscreen or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen and make sure to reapply every 2 hours.”

As for the ingredients, Garshick recommends sticking to sunscreens with mineral blockers which contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. “These work by reflecting UV rays off the skin.” Equally as important is to check the sunscreen label to see if it’s water-resistant and for how long. “It’s recommended to use mineral sunscreens which are physical blockers containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide; these tend to be less likely to cause sensitivity or irritation,” she says. And you should always avoid any sunscreens that contain benzene, which is a carcinogen as well as an environmental hazard, a PubMed study found.

And whether a stick versus a spray is better, the EWG recommends sticking to, well, sticks or lotion sunscreen. “As we have for more than 10 years, EWG continues to recommend that consumers avoid spray sunscreens, because of difficulty with proper application, potential ingredient toxicity, and inhalation concerns.” All it takes is a slight breeze for your sunscreen to float away, causing inadequate coverage.

So get ready to slather on these sunscreens to help protect your child’s skin and block out a potential burn — and woot, all are safe for breastfeeding mommas, according to Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, a certified lactation consultant. “Since the ingredients are applied topically, all of the products below are safe for breastfeeding parents,” says O’Connor. “There is nothing that is toxic or would cause an interruption to milk supply."

Read on to find the best baby sunscreens that will offer protection while they play.

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.


A kids’ sunscreen that’s TSA-travel safe

Pediatrician-tested, Supergoop! Sunnyscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 50 is a 100% non-nano mineral formula. It’s hypoallergenic and silicone-free, and is good for both baby’s face and body. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and is sheer and non-sticky. It’s also in a portable size that’s perfect for travel, since it meets TSA guidelines. Best part: It’s non-sticky, so your toddler won’t complain when you begin reapplying it to their face. It’s also fragrance-free and is made from sunflower seed oil and shea butter, which is perfect for that soft baby skin. Just be sure to slather it on before your kiddo goes outside to play.


A baby and kids’ sunscreen that helps preserve the coral reefs

You might not think of a coral reef when you’re trying to corral your kiddo into wearing sunscreen, but the Erbaviva Organic Skincare Baby Sun Screen, Lavender Chamomile, SPF 30 is actually coral reef safe. It’s made with non-nano zinc oxide, along with a bunch of other good-for-you ingredients, like sunflower, jojoba oils, along with essential oils of chamomile and lavender. It provides full spectrum protection, and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Of course, you can use the sunscreen as a base, but you should also apply it again after your child has been splashing in the water, sweating, or even if you’ve patted down your cutie patootie with a towel, too.


A baby sunscreen that’s eco-friendly

Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+ is eco-friendly, since it’s made without Oxybenzone or Octinoxate, which can hurt ocean life. It uses only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which can help protect skin from 97% of the sun’s rays. It’s also 100% vegan with no parabens, fragrances, or chemical active ingredients. Plus, it’s non-tinted and non-comedogenic (i.e. it won’t clog up Baby’s precious little pores). And as far as sunscreens go, despite being a stick, it glides on easily and dries quickly, so baby won’t even realize that they’re wearing any. Vitamin E ensures that your child’s skin will stay soft while they’re staying safe in the sun.


A baby sunscreen that smells like cocoa butter

If you love that cocoa butter scent, then you might want to slather your baby in the Coppertone Sunscreen Pure & Simple Baby Sunscreen Stick. It’s free from PABA, phthalates, fragrances, parabens, dyes, alcohol, and oxybenzone. It’s also hypoallergenic and made from naturally sourced zinc oxide. Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, it offers broad spectrum SPF 50 coverage, which should protect your baby from a potential burn. And if you’re not sold on sunscreen in the form of a stick, this sunscreen is perfect for tiny touch-ups (think ears, face, and nose) which are often exposed even more to the sun’s rays.


A kids’ sunscreen that’s made with colloidal oatmeal

It’s not an ingredient that you often see in sunscreen, but the Earth Mama Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 is made with organic colloidal oatmeal. Every ingredient in the sunscreen serves a purpose, whether it’s to boost its SP or ensure that it’s safe enough for your child to wear. It also helps to moisturize the skin with all of those good-for-you antioxidants; plus, it contains organic aloe vera which can help in case your kiddo somehow gets a sunburn. The sunscreen also has vitamins C and E, along with non-nano zinc to keep your kiddo chemical-free.


Baby sunscreen that can be used on kids who have eczema

The unscented mineral sunscreen that is TruBaby Water & Play Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+ is designed for little ones with sensitive skin. It’s made with aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, and is PETA certified animal cruelty-free. The sunscreen is reef-friendly and can be used on kids who have eczema, too. Pediatrician and dermatologist-tested, TruBaby is also phthalate and paraben-free, so you won’t have to worry about added (and unnecessary) chemicals. To ensure that baby doesn’t get sunburned, apply the sunblock at least 15 minutes before you plan to take your child outside (and then every 80 minutes after that to ensure continuous coverage).


Baby sunscreen that’s aromatherapeutic

Some sunscreens smell really good — like what you’d imagine a day at the beach would smell like. But the 3rd Rock Sunblock Sunscreen Lotion, Infant, SPF 35 offers aromatherapy benefits too, thanks to the use of rosemary, frankincense, and Boswellia sacra. It doesn’t have any endocrine disruptors, parabens, or toxins, and is hypoallergenic as well. It can be used on all skin types and is made with only food grade ingredients — like refined coconut oil extract and distilled water, for example. (Not that you should eat it, of course!) The sunscreen itself and its ingredients haven’t been tested on animals, and comes in unscented and infant varieties, too.


A kids’ sunscreen that’s easy to apply

When you just want some quick coverage for your kid’s nose or cheeks, the Olita Kids Mineral Sunscreen Sunstick, SPF 30 is ideal. Beeswax, sunflower seed oil, aloe vera extract, and canola oil are just some of the ingredients you’ll find in the sunscreen, which also blocks out harmful UVA/UVB rays. The grab-and-go sized stick means that you can always carry the sunscreen with you wherever you go, whether that’s to the pool or the park. You won’t have to worry about the sunscreen affecting the oceans, since it doesn’t harm sea life at all. And that means that it’s perfect for your own little fishie.


A kids’ sunscreen that goes on clear

With 100% non-nano zinc oxide as its main ingredient, the Babo Botanicals Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Stick offers safe sunscreen for your little sweetie. In addition to its SPF 50 protection, it also goes on sheer, (so goodbye streaky white sunscreen!). Made in the USA, the sunscreen offers 80 minutes of water-resistant protection, so your little baby can have a ball in the sun without the worry of getting burned. In addition to being free of irritating chemicals, you won’t find any parabens, dyes, phthalates, or parabens, either. And woot, more than 70% of the ingredients found in the Babo Botanicals Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Stick are all organic.


A kids’ sunscreen with just six ingredients

Although you might think that most sunscreens should have a slew of ingredients, the SunBioLogic Kids Natural Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+ just has (count ‘em) six. It’s reef safe, so it doesn’t contain any chemicals that could compromise marine life, and is made with beeswax, coconut, extra virgin oil, sunflower seed and jojoba oils, and shea butter. Manufactured in the USA, the sunscreen offers broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and has a neutral scent. And while you can use this product on young kids, speak to your pediatrician before applying it (or any other sunscreens, really) on your baby.


A kids’ sunscreen that’s vegan

Made with 100% mineral active ingredients, Kiss My Face Organics Kids Defense Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 is both vegan and cruelty-free. The hypoallergenic sunscreen is made with organic sunflower and sesame oils, along with beeswax. It’s free of parabens, phthalates, and oxybenzone, and is water resistant for 80 minutes. It also contains 87% organic ingredients, and is phthalate-free. You won’t have to worry about UVA and UVB sunlight, since Kiss My Face Organics Kids Defense Sunscreen Lotion is optimized to protect your child’s skin. Best part: the sunscreen is both sweat and water-resistant.


A baby sunscreen that has chamomile and calendula

You want to protect your baby’s skin from harmful sun rays, but you also want to make sure that their sunscreen will be safe for them. The Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, Chamomile & Calendula, SPF 40 has just seven ingredients, two of which are chamomile and calendula, and provides broad-spectrum protection. Sunflower oil ensures that the sunscreen goes smoothly and easily onto Baby’s skin, while vitamin E offers a nourishing application. It’s reef-friendly, cruelty-free, and packaged in a 50% PCR tube, and in an ode to the environment, it’s made with solar power.


A kids’ sunscreen that smells delicious

A sunscreen that smells like cake? Yes, please. Suntribe Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Vanilla Yum Yum, SPF 30 has all the good stuff you’d want in a sunscreen (think coconut oil and cocoa and shea butter to help moisturize skin), but it also has a delish natural vanilla scent that will make your kid want to (hopefully) wear the sunscreen more. It’s water-resistant, certified reef safe, and blocks 97% of UVB rays. It comes in a biobased sugar cane tube, too. And if you’re unsure if your baby hasn’t wiped away all the sunscreen, it leaves a faint white cast so that you’ll always know if your kiddo is covered.


A mineral sunscreen that slides on and spreads easily

Although it could deceptively pass for deodorant, all you’ll be blocking are the sun’s rays (and not, you know, a bad case of B.O.) with the Mustela Baby-Child Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50. A mineral baby-safe sunscreen, it can safely be used on both the body and face. It’s safe for people with sensitive or eczema-prone skin, thanks to its fragrance-free, paraben-free, and water-resistant formula. It has 70% organic ingredients and with its ultra sheer texture, blends easily so you won’t see any streaks. For best results, apply 15 minutes before sun exposure — and then every 80 minutes or so afterwards.


A hypoallergenic sunscreen developed by dermatologists

The CeraVe Baby Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 45 doesn’t just protect your skin, it helps repair and restore it, too. How? We’re glad you asked. It contains three ceramides that help the skin get back to its beautiful, healthy, (and soft) self. It’s free of parabens and sulfates, and is at once fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Your baby will be bathed in sun-blocking protection for upwards of 80 minutes. The mineral sunscreen can be slathered on both your baby’s body and their face, too. It was developed by dermatologists and can offer healthy hydration for baby’s skin.

As a parent, you’re always looking for the safest sunscreens for kids. Thanks to the EWG sunscreen 2022 list, you’ll know which ones offer the most protection. So when you’re packing for a day at the beach, be sure to pop any one of these sunscreens into your bag, so that everyone can have a blast — and not worry about a burn.

Study cited:

Hudspeth, A., Zenzola, N., Kucera, K., Wu, Q., Light, D. “Independent Sun Care Product Screening For Benzene Contamination” 2022.

Sources Interviewed:

Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist

Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, a certified lactation consultant

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