There’s nothing like the softness of a new baby’s skin – if only we could do anything to keep it like that forever!
I remember our first walks outside with our little one, and my efforts to shelter my son’s face from any kind of breeze or bright sun. I knew that a baby’s skin is super delicate, and I wanted to do everything humanly possible to keep his away from any harm.
Luckily for us parents nowadays, there’s a plethora of products that help protect babies’ delicate skin in a healthy and non-irritating way. In other words, it’s time to wave goodbye to some of those nagging worries every time you step outside!
In this article, we’ll run you through everything you need to know about baby sunscreen – what it is, why your little one needs it, why not just about any sunscreen out there will do, the different types available, as well as the ingredients you need to avoid.
But first, let’s have a quick look at what we believe to be some of the best baby sunscreen of today.
Best Baby Sunscreen – a Quick Look at Our Top 13 Recommendations
Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
- Babyganics Baby Sunscreen Lotion
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sunscreen Lotion
- Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
- CeraVe Mineral Baby Sunscreen
- Baby Sunscreen Cream by Badger
- Kiss My Face Kids Mineral Natural Organic Sunscreen
- Baby Organic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion by Nurture My Body
- BALM! Baby All Natural Sunscreen
- Banana Boat Tear-Free & Broad Spectrum Baby Sunscreen
- Alba Botanica Tropical Fruit Spray Lotion Sunscreen
- Thinksport Sunscreen Cream
Best Baby Sunscreen – a More Detailed Look at Our Top 13 Recommendations
Now that you know all about the importance of protecting your little one’s skin from the harmful sun rays with appropriate sunscreen, as well as what you should look for (and what you should avoid) in products today – let’s have a more detailed look at some of the best baby sunscreens of today.
Babyganics Baby Sunscreen Lotion
Compared to adults, babies are tiny human beings. This means that any chemicals, however small the amount, can (and do) go far in their little bodies.
This is why checking the ingredients list on products you use on your little one is so essential, especially when it comes to sunscreen.
Not all sunscreens are equal in terms of safety. For babies and kids, it’s best to opt for a mineral one, made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – and the Babyganics Baby Sunscreen Lotion is made of both.
Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on the skin. Zinc can actually stand alone as a sunblock, and it has enough power to block UVA, UVB and UVC rays effectively. Titanium dioxide, however, does not protect from UVB rays the way zinc does.
This Babyganics sunscreen lotion sits on the skin and offers a safe sunscreen SPF of 50.
Because it’s mineral, it does leave a white mark, but this is a plus as you’d know where you’ve already applied sun protection on your little one, and will be less likely to leave any areas exposed as a result.
- Comes in a pack of two – great for keeping one at home and another at grandma’s or daycare to use when playing outside. Another tip is to leave one in the baby bag – this way you’ll never get caught without (and that’s one thing less to not forget packing).
- At 6 oz, it comes in a great size – larger than regular sunscreen lotions. It’s also a good size to last the whole family for quite a while. Plus, you’ll be producing less waste.
- Pleasant smell.
- This sunscreen contains octisalate. An EWG report found that this penetrates the skin, and the FDA notes that more studies are needed to verify its safety (or otherwise).
- Some reports that it’s not really tear-free.
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
Strides have been made in scientific research – countless products have been introduced, and others made safer.
Without a doubt, and as we’ve well established by now, reading the ingredients list should be at the top of your priorities when shopping for baby sunscreen.
This Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen would be the nerd of sunscreens (if there ever was such a thing).
It meets regulations set by the FDA, and is one of the best (if not the best) rated by environmental and health groups. It’s also the first sunscreen to pass the Whole Foods Premium Care requirements.
No nasty chemicals are included in its production, and it even goes further by indicating that the zinc oxide used is non nano.
The makers behind this product are very much aware of parents’ concerns about what goes into the products they use for their little ones.
It’s fitting to include a word on the term ‘non nano’ used here – A nanoparticle is material that is so small, it has to be measured in nanometers. To put things into perspective, 10,000 nanoparticles can fit in the diameter of a human hair.
In our context, this basically means that nano zinc oxide will be much less visible on the skin; however, there’s a higher chance that it will seep through the skin.
Non nano means that the particle is less likely to penetrate the skin. So, non nano is considered to be safer.
- A mineral based formulation that’s great for sensitive skin.
- Made using non nano zinc oxide.
- Thinkbaby works with physicians and scientists to find products that are safe, functional and sustainable.
- Free from biologically harmful chemicals.
- Comes in 3oz tube only; can be quite easy to finish up for many parents. In that case, you’ll need multiple tubes to last you a considerable amount of time.
- Applying too thin a layer can decrease its effectiveness.
Aveeno Baby Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Unfortunately, many babies and children suffer from eczema. It’s itchy, at times painful, and super frustrating.
The last thing you would want to do in that case is to apply something on it that makes it even worse, or something that causes a flare up on other parts of the body.
Special care should be taken when dealing with troubled skin, especially that of a baby or toddler.
The Aveeno Baby Sunscreen is specially formulated for sensitive skin, and was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance that makes it appropriate for use on babies with eczema or super sensitive skin.
The Aveeno sunscreen is pediatrician-recommended, so you know that you’re using one of the best products out there for your baby.
Its active ingredient is naturally-sourced zinc oxide. There is no evidence that zinc can sink below the dermal layers, which makes it kinder on the skin.
In fact, it stays on the skin, leaving a white film. This might not be aesthetically pleasing, but anything for safety, right?
- Mild formulation, ideal for sensitive skin.
- Covers a broad spectrum.
- Not greasy and doesn’t bother the skin or eyes.
- Care should be taken when applying, as it may stain clothing or other surfaces.
- It’s not exactly clear whether or not the zinc oxide used is non nano.
Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick
I remember reading package information on a sunscreen once (and by once, I mean pre-kids), and scoffing when I read that the product shouldn’t touch the eyes.
The first thought that came to my mind was, ‘why would anyone do that?’ The joke’s on me, though.
Truth is, regardless of your best intentions, sunscreen and eyes are no distant relatives when slathering your little one’s face with it before an outing.
Babies wriggle, they try to escape, and they’ll even eat their hands if they could. They don’t know any better!
Thankfully, there’s baby sunscreen options out there that help you deal with this exact scenario.
The Neutrogena Pure and Free Sunscreen Stick has been developed to make your life easier. It comes in stick form that’s great for applying, especially on the face.
It’s much easier to not get into the eyes, even with a super wriggly baby.
It comes in sunscreen SPF 60 as well. Now, many experts note that anything above SPF 30 is quite useless, but they also recognize the fact that with a higher SPF, you have more chances of protection if the product has not been applied well, or if it’s not reapplied as frequently as advised on the packaging.
So really, there’s no loss in going for SPF 60.
- One of the best stick sunscreen for babies. Easy to apply to face and ears, and is easy to use without the product going into the mouth or eyes.
- The baby sunscreen stick is on the small side – think tic tac small.
- It’s mild but, using on a baby under 6 months of age will still require a physician’s advice.
Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that the things we put on ourselves harm not only our bodies, but also the environment that we all share.
Most of us are already very well aware that detergents and cleaning agents, for instance, place quite a brunt on the environment. But have you ever thought about what sunscreen can do in that regard?
It’s not the first time I came across signs near pools requesting a quick rinse off before entering the pool with sunscreen or sunblock applied.
Interestingly, I never saw any of these signs next to beaches – but this certainly doesn’t mean that sunscreens do not affect the sea around us.
This Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen was developed with the environment in mind, as it contains no oxybenzone or octinoxate.
Oxybenzone has been detected in almost every mother’s milk in the US. It penetrates the skin and disrupts the endocrine system, mimicking sex hormones. Not only so, but oxybenzone also affects delicate coral reefs.
You can rest assured that the Blue Lizard sunscreen contains no such chemicals. And, to help you determine if you’re really in too much UV, the bottle turns pink in harmful UV light to alert you about the situation.
Your baby will be safe, and sport a healthy glow with this sunscreen.
- Mineral sunscreen with no chemicals; the sun’s rays bounce off.
- Paraben free.
- Easy to apply and rub in, and provides excellent coverage.
- EWG Best score in 2017.
- Only 40 minutes of water resistance, whereas most other sunscreens offer 80.
- Slightly thick and greasy, but only because no chemicals have been added to it to thin it out. I don’t know about you, but that’s more than worth it in my book.
- Water tends to bead up on the skin.
CeraVe Mineral Baby Sunscreen
If only we could leave our little ones in a safe bubble, away from polluted air and harmful chemicals.
We very well know that this is not possible though – even if you intend to stay at home until they turn 18. Once it’s out the womb, the skin undergoes so many changes – that newborn softness is fleeting.
That’s where the CeraVe Mineral Baby Sunscreen comes in, as it attempts to retain that softness through the use of ceramides.
Fret not, you’re not the only one with a blank face – so let’s clarify what that means.
Ceramides help form and restore the skin’s barrier and help it retain moisture. Without a proper ratio of ceramides, the skin’s barrier can become compromised through environmental aggressors such as irritants and pollution. Because of this, the skin feels itchy, dry and irritated.
Cue fussy baby!
Ceramides are naturally produced by the skin, but they can get depleted by exposure to hot water, soaps, as well as certain chemicals.
This sunscreen has been formulated with three essential ceramides: 1, 3, and 6-II. It’s a physical sunscreen that goes much further, and is a great option for babies with eczema and eczema-prone skin.
This is why ceramides are an excellent ingredient to have in your baby’s sunscreen.
- Fragrance-free, non-irritating.
- Awarded the National Eczema Seal of Acceptance – only products that satisfy stringent criteria for use on eczema or sensitive skin conditions can use this seal.
- One of the best sunscreen for babies with eczema.
- Not really an ideal option for oily skin.
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream
Babies put EVERYTHING in their mouth, and by everything, we really mean EVERYTHING.
It’s horrendous just thinking of the unsavory items that end up digested, but there’s only so much you can do in terms of sanitizing anything your little one comes into contact with.
Cue in swimming! Babies just love to suck on their tiny hands (think whole fistful in mouth), especially when there’s a little water on it.
Basically, whether you’re at the beach or by the pool, babies party on … eagerly sucking on their hand. And yes, they do indirectly ingest sunscreen, regardless of how careful you are and how hard you try to prevent that from happening.
The Badger Baby Sunscreen was formulated with exactly this in mind. Its main ingredient is non nano uncoated zinc oxide.
The rest of the ingredients, you can actually recognize each and every one, and they’re not something you wouldn’t want on a plate.
This sunscreen lives up to its name: it really is all natural. That’s certainly saying something when most products brandish an ingredient list that only a holder of a scientific doctoral degree can decipher.
- Biodegradable packaging.
- Regardless of it being all natural, you still have to ask your pediatrician for use on babies under 6 months of age.
- You’ll have to reapply every 40 minutes when in water.
Kiss My Face Organics Kids Defense Sunscreen
Following a vegan lifestyle is not always easy, especially since the majority of products we use on a daily basis contain animal byproducts.
It’s great to note that non-vegan options are finally making headway on the market, and this can be said for vegan baby sunscreens too.
The Kiss My Face Kids Defense Sunscreen is both vegan and organic, and contains antioxidants for added skin health.
It’s made up with 87% certified organic ingredients, and even the EWG had positive things to say about it. Considering how stringent they are in their independent testing, this definitely speaks volumes.
It contains the right combination for a good protective sunscreen, with 6% zinc oxide and 6% titanium dioxide.
There aren’t plenty of other ingredients, and the ones that are included as part of this formula, you can easily identify them.
For little ones with any soy sensitivity or allergies, it’s good to know that this product does not contain soy.
It offers up to 80 minutes of water resistance, a great feature to prevent having to reapply so often (we know how difficult that can get).
- Often used on children with eczema, and no notable reports of any flare-ups or irritation.
- Not tear free.
- In view of any possible allergies, it’s important to note that it contains sesame oil.
Nurture my Body Baby Mineral Sunscreen
There are mixed reactions and contradicting advice to using baby sunscreen on infants less than 6 months of age.
If there wasn’t enough scaremongering, authorities had to go on a disagreeing fest on what’s right and what isn’t in terms of sunscreen on infants!
Most parents (me included) prefer staying in rather than expose their little ones to doubtful chemicals and minerals.
However, there’s hope. You, dear parent, can still enjoy some fresh air and sun, baby in tow.
The Nurture My Body baby mineral sunscreen was made specifically with infants under six months of age in mind. Think you couldn’t leave the house safely with your little one? Think again!
Honestly speaking, had this product been on a shelf in a shop, it’s very probably the one I would have gone for. Specifically, the packaging is just something else!
That’s not the only great thing going for it, either. It has a “1” rating from the EWG, and is certified 100% organic.
If you’re asking yourself why this sunscreen is suitable for babies under six months, here’s the answer: The FDA approved the use of non nano uncoated zinc oxide on infants under six months of age, and this sunscreen is made precisely with that.
Using uncoated zinc oxide means that non nano zinc oxide particles can be added to sunscreen without affecting the product’s overall effectiveness. Using uncoated zinc oxide requires less zinc oxide to make the product, so it even goes better on the skin without too much of a white residue.
Zinc oxide was originally coated to prevent chalkiness, as well as free radical formation. However, recent research shows that the coating itself can break down and produce free radicals. So, going for uncoated zinc oxide is a better choice.
The Nurture My Body Sunscreen is made of 25% uncoated non nano zinc oxide and a few other identifiable ingredients.
- Packaged in IV-proof PET bottles that do not leach chemicals, even at high heat.
- Contains no nasty sulfates, parabens, oxybenzone or octinoxate.
- Can be used before your baby turns six months of age.
- It does tend to leave greasy skin, and can rub off on other surfaces, leaving them white.
Balm! Baby All Natural Sunscreen
The fight against plastic is real, and sometimes it also feels quite impossible with the way the market is these days.
Most products we purchase and use on a daily basis contain plastic, and going plastic free is easier said than done.
Nonetheless, it’s tantamount that action is taken: our plastic-use is having a super detrimental effect on the environment, and we need to take action to put a stop to that – or at least slow the damage down as much as possible.
It’s a big world, but every little step counts, and you too can leave a positive impact.
Take a look at this Balm Baby Sunscreen that comes in a glass jar. This is a first – while organic sunscreen runs aplenty, most options come packaged in plastic.
The Balm Baby sunscreen has another plus going for it as well: it can double up as a natural diaper ointment when a prescription-based solution is needed.
It’s GMO-free, natural and so gentle that it’s also safe for the face and lips.
If you’re concerned about the small size of the jar, then don’t worry about that at all. Yes, the jar is small, but its content goes very far. In fact, you’ll find that you’ll only need a small amount to last your little one for a full day in the sun.
The Balm Sunscreen glides smoothly, however, make sure to allow it to dry before putting on clothing or touching sand.
On the subject of sand, the people behind this product recommend applying the sunscreen before arriving at a sandy location – since sand can slightly complicate the application process.
- A natural sunscreen that’s also consciously packaged.
- Not the best option for people with a sesame intolerance or allergy.
- You’ll need to allow it to dry before putting on clothing.
Banana Boat Sting-Free Sunscreen
Getting ready to head out of the house with kids and babies in tow, be it a short grocery trip or a day at the beach, is a whole lot of work.
In fact, it’s not the first time I felt completely overwhelmed and decided to abandon my plans solely because of this. (It’s amazing how long you can live with remnants from the fridge and freezer!)
The last thing you’d want to add to this concoction is pained crying because a micro drop of sunscreen went into an eye.
And no, regardless of how perfect a parent you are and how much precautions you take, if you’re not using a tear-free sunscreen, this is bound to happen eventually.
Babies and toddlers in particular love to touch their face and rub their eyes – with sunscreen on, this becomes a pained ordeal.
The Banana Boat Sunscreen is sting and tear free, which makes going out with your little one an altogether better and calmer affair.
Many parents report that it leads to no sting whatsoever, even when sunscreen drips down into the eyes due to sweat on a particularly hot day. This also makes it ideal for adults to use during sports activities, too.
It comes in a 50 SPF, great for fair skin tones and covers a broad spectrum.
It prevents the effects of both UVA and UVB rays. UVA penetrates deep into the skin and causes long-term skin sun damage. UVB burns the skin, causing sunburn and turning skin into a painful red.
The Banana Boat sunscreen leaves a white streak where applied – which helps you ensure that everywhere’s covered and that you didn’t miss an important area.
- Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
- Tear-free, won’t sting eyes.
- Contains homosalate, oxtinoxate, octisalate. In a February 2019 update to the Sunscreen Regulation, the FDA proposed that more studies are needed on these chemicals.
- Contains Retinyl Palmitate. This is a form of Vitamin A that the EWG found can actually harm skin rather than help it out.
- Tends to rub off a bit too easily.
Alba Botanica Spray Sunscreen
Sometimes, putting sunscreen on a baby feels like mission impossible.
They squirm, they throw their arms and legs everywhere, and they have their own wicked means of escaping when the last thing you have time for is running after them.
The Alba Botanic Spray Sunscreen is perfect for active kids, as it can be applied at any angle. It’s also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for its broad protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
The spray contains no nasty oxybenzone or octinoxate, and is gluten-free.
It’s vegetarian with botanical ingredients and feels very lightweight when applied. In fact, you can also use it yourself as a sun-safe base underneath your makeup.
What’s particularly great about this sunscreen, and also a factor that makes it fairly unique, is that it blends the advantages of both a cream and spray sunscreen, striking a safe balance and offering the best of both worlds.
It comes in a squirt bottle, rather than aerosol. It still requires blending in after spraying, but this avoids any chemicals being inhaled by your little one – a disadvantage you’ll typically have to deal with when using aerosol spray bottles.
The Alba Botanica spray is both easy to apply and baby safe.
- Does not stain clothing.
- Contains homosalate. In a recent report, the FDA noted that it requires further studies on homosalate.
- Not an ideal sunscreen for kids and babies who are still very young.
- Even though this is a spray, you still have to rub the sunscreen in, so there is still some degree of running after a child or two involved.
Thinksport Safe Sunscreen Cream
You wear sunscreen to reduce the risk of cancer, but many sunscreens contain known carcinogens. The last thing you’d want is to slather your little one in nasty chemicals, making sun protection a more harmful affair than good.
The Thinksport Safe Sunscreen was the first to pass the Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, and is mineral-based and completely free from harmful chemicals.
Thinksport are very much aware of the many nasty chemicals that make it into products we use daily, so they stay on top of research to ensure that only safe ingredients make it into their sunscreens.
The Thinksport sunscreen isn’t only skin-kind, but is also very comfortable to put on.
It doesn’t have that annoying oily feel that so many other sunscreens have, which means it feels much lighter. It also doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad as some other baby sunscreen products out there.
- One of the best cream options, safe on the skin and comfortable to wear.
- EWG rated No. 1 since 2010.
- The company utilizes the precautionary principle when faced with insufficient studies concerning certain chemicals or minerals. To this end, they use non nano zinc oxide in their sunscreen.
- Do not spread too thin, as its effectiveness will be reduced.
Baby Sunscreen 101
When used correctly, baby sunscreen helps protect a little one’s skin from sunburn, as well as other more serious problems that may arise down the line, such as certain skin cancers.
Baby sunscreen comes in various types of packaging aimed at making application easier, and is also available in a mix of ingredients, each specifically formulated to meet unique skin needs. This means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that’s best for all babies out there – instead, there’s different solutions that are best for different cases.
Baby sunscreens are available in a wide variety of different forms, such as lotions, creams, sticks, gels, oils, butters, pastes, and sprays.
Sunscreens made for babies are generally fragrance-free and contain mineral blocker ingredients, such as zinc oxide, which sit on top of the skin.
Nonetheless, as emphasized by Healthy Children, just because your little one has sunscreen on doesn’t mean that they can stay in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Sunscreen should be used for sun protection along adhering to general sun safety best practices, it should not be used as a reason for staying longer in the sun!
Is Baby Sunscreen Really a Must?
Baby sunscreen is not necessarily a must for babies under six months of age. This holds true as long as other sun protection methods and safety practices are followed, such as staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, and putting on a hat and sunglasses.
If staying out of the sun is not really an option, and your baby is older than six months of age, then yes, sunscreen is a must.
Your little one’s skin is very sensitive and far more susceptible to serious burns than adult skin is. Babies’ sensitive skin contains less melanin – the pigment which gives hair and eyes their color and also offers some sun protection.
As noted by the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunburn in babies can lead to a medical emergency, causing dehydration, high fever, blisters, infections, chills, and heatstroke, as well as an increased lifetime skin cancer risk.
To further understand the severity of the sun’s effects, one bad sunburn in childhood can double your little one’s risk of melanoma later in life.
As noted by the Skin Cancer Foundation, with 3.5 million skin cancers diagnosed in more than 2 million people annually in the US, following safe sun practices early on is imperative.
Can I Use Any Sunscreen on My Baby?
No, not any sunscreen will do for your baby. Baby sunscreens are specially formulated to not irritate your baby’s skin or go in too deep. Also, since babies can easily ingest the product (through sucking on fingers with sunscreen, for instance), these products are specifically made from kinder formulations.
As explained by Jennifer Linder, MD, a baby’s skin is thinner, with a thinner outermost layer of dead skin. This thin layer protects the body less effectively, and chemicals in sunscreen can penetrate deeper, which leads to increased vulnerability to skin reactions, allergies, or inflammation.
So, choosing a sunscreen specifically made for your baby’s age is very important.
When Can I Start Using Sunscreen on My Infant?
As a rule, you shouldn’t put sunscreen on babies under six months of age. However, and as suggested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if you have to be out in the sun and shade is minimal, it’s best to speak to your pediatrician to see what’s best for your baby.
Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., a pediatrician at the FDA, notes that when compared to adults, a baby’s skin is much less mature. Babies also have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio when compared to adults and older children, which means that babies are more exposed to the chemicals in sunscreen and the side effects experienced may be greater.
Always keep in mind that babies are best protected from the sun by being in the shade. The AAP also suggests dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that shade the neck.
Unfortunately, there is no general consensus amongst American agencies in terms of sunscreen use on infants under six months of age. The FDA and the Skin Cancer Foundation say no, while the AAP suggests that it’s fine if sunscreen is applied to small areas of exposed skin if protective clothing and shade are unavailable.
When Should Babies Have Sunscreen On?
Sunscreen isn’t only for you to put on your baby during days spent at the beach. Your baby should be protected from the sun’s harmful rays anytime you’re outdoors.
Don’t be fooled by cloudy skies either! Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds, which means your little one can still get sunburned on a cloudy day.
Harmful UV rays are also particularly strong when they bounce back from water, sand, snow, and concrete. So, even when out in the cold sledding or skiing, applying sunscreen on your little one is a must.
Once your little one is 6 months of age or older, putting on sunscreen before heading out is a safe bet.
What Makes a Great Sunscreen for My Baby?
The following is a list of some of the most important elements and features you should be on the lookout for when shopping for baby sunscreen:
UVB and UVA Rays
Your baby’s sunscreen should clearly indicate that it covers a ‘broad spectrum’. This means that it will protect your little one from both UVB and UVA rays alike.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) in any baby sunscreen product you buy should be at least 15.
As noted by Healthy Children, a baby sunscreen lotion SPF of 15 or 30 should be fine for most babies. There are sunscreens that go beyond SPF 50, but it still has to be studied whether these indeed offer extra protection.
Speaking to Health, Joshua Zeichner, MD, explains that it might be wise to choose the highest SPF protection available. He agrees that any sunscreen above SPF 30 gives little additional benefits, but since most do not apply enough or reapply often, the sunscreen SPF value gets diluted out.
The FDA recommends a higher baby sunscreen SPF of 30 to 50 for lighter skin.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are great for sensitive areas of the body, such as the nose, cheeks, top of the ears, and shoulders. Sunscreen with these ingredients is also great for babies whose skin gets easily irritated.
These products stay visible on the skin once rubbed in, and some even come in funky colors for your little one to fall in love with.
For babies under six months of age, the best sunscreen you could offer them is one based on zinc-oxide. Zinc works by sitting on top of the skin rather than by seeping into pores, and provides a great protective barrier against the sun without going in too deep.
Still, as the FDA advises, it’s best to consult your pediatrician first before buying and applying any sunscreen on your baby.
The FDA has proposed these two ingredients as baby safe and effective for sunscreen use.
Sunscreen should never go in the eyes, but with babies, we all know that anything is possible!
It’s very easy for them to touch an arm slathered in sunscreen and then rub their eyes – in the end, they’re too young to know any better.
To be prepared for when this happens, a tear-free sunscreen is a must have.
Babies have sensitive skin, so going for a non-allergenic sunscreen will help prevent any adverse reactions.
Unscented sunscreens are much kinder on a baby’s delicate skin, so it’s best to avoid any fragranced ones whenever possible.
Pay close attention to this one, as it’s especially important for when you’re at the beach with your baby.
The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends looking for the words ‘Water Resistant’ when shopping for sunscreen. Water resistance usually lasts either 40 or 80 minutes, but not all sunscreens have such resistance.
Uv Indicator Cap
These sunscreens add a nifty feature to the cap – some brands run sunscreen with a cap that changes color when exposed to harmful UV light.
What Ingredients Should I Avoid in Baby Sunscreen?
Now that we’ve gone over what to look for when buying baby sunscreen, here’s a list of the ingredients you should avoid when shopping for sunscreen for your little one:
Chemical sunscreens may contain oxybenzone. Oxybenzone can act as a hormone disruptor on children, potentially causing issues in the long term, such as early puberty.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also notes that this chemical poses a hazard to the environment (specifically coral reefs) and, since it soaks through the skin, can be measured in the body of every American!
Some sunscreens combine the insect repellent DEET in their formulation. It’s best to avoid such products as, while sunscreen has to be reapplied often, insect repellent doesn’t.
Paba and Trolamine Salicylate
The FDA has regulated aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate as unsafe and ineffective for sunscreen use.
In its 2018 sunscreen report, the EWG found that two-thirds of products examined contained worrisome ingredients such as retinyl palmitate.
Retinyl palmitate is a form of Vitamin A that can actually harm skin rather than help it out.
In a February 2019 update to the Sunscreen Regulation, the FDA proposed that it needs more safety information for the following sunscreen ingredients: cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octislaate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, and avobenzone.
What Different Types of Baby Sunscreen Can I Choose From?
Chances are that you’ll come across countless types of sunscreen when shopping for your baby. For that reason, it’s important to know what you should expect before making any purchase.
Chemical sunscreens contain one or more of the active ingredients oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate – all of which work by absorbing the sun’s rays.
Chemical sunscreen does not leave residue when applied, but is generally not recommended for babies.
Physical sunscreens are mineral-based, and they work by forming a thin layer on the skin that reflects the sun. Mineral sunscreens are not absorbed into the skin, as chemical sunscreens are.
Many pediatricians suggest opting for mineral sunscreens for babies and young children, as they can be used on larger areas at a younger age.
There’s another advantage to mineral sunscreen as well: there’s no need to apply it 20 minutes or so before going out, since mineral sunscreens become effective almost immediately. It’s slather on and out the door in no time!
The EWG found that mineral sunscreens are stable in sunlight, offer good protection, and don’t often contain potentially harmful additives.
If you’re not too fond of the possibility of nasty chemicals sitting idly on your little one’s skin (which you shouldn’t be fond of – at all), an organic sunscreen is a baby safe alternative.
Organic baby sunscreens come with a mix of lovely ingredients such as shea butter, essential oils, green tea, and coconut oil – making it much gentler on your little one’s skin.
Pediatric dermatologist Adena Rosenblatt, M.D., Ph.D., says cream sunscreens are best for ensuring an even coat of application.
While spray and powder sunscreens are easier to apply, they can leave areas of skin uncovered.
Spray sunscreens are easy to apply, but can easily go into your little one’s lungs. The EWG cautions people to avoid spray sunscreens.
Roll on sunscreens do look cuter, but they may require a bit more work to really be effective.
A single go may not leave enough of the product on your little one’s skin, and you may need to go over the same area multiple times for an effective cover.
This kind of sunscreen is made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and is widely non-toxic, non-irritating, and less likely to bring about skin reactions.
To apply powder sunscreen, you simply have to distribute the powder onto the brush and then rub onto the skin, ensuring that you cover all of your baby’s exposed skin. For effectiveness’ sake, most brands recommend applying two liberal coats, even when reapplying after the usual two hours.
Sunscreen in powder form is easy to use, but it does have some considerable disadvantages you need to be aware of.
The potential for an uneven coating is higher than with other types of baby sunscreen, and there’s a high probability that some of the powder will end up being inhaled by your little one. Breathing in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide may have negative effects, so it’s not something you’ll want to expose your baby to.
In fact, the FDA has not authorized the marketing of nonprescription sunscreen products in the form of wipes, towelettes, powders, body washes, or shampoos.
What’s the Difference Between Baby Sunscreen and Sunblock?
Most of us use the terms ‘baby sunscreen’ and ‘baby sunblock’ interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. You’d be surprised to know though that there is indeed a difference between the two!
Sunscreen works by filtering or screening the sun’s harmful UV rays. It keeps most rays out, but does let some in. Sunblock, on the other hand, reflects the sun’s rays from the skin and blocks the rays from penetrating it.
If this sounds at all familiar, that’s because it should. As we covered earlier on in this article, there are chemical sunscreens and physical ones.
As explained by Verywell Health, sunscreens are basically chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, are sunblocks.
Now that you know this, it’s time to show off this newly gained knowledge and let someone else know about it when they confuse the two for being the same thing in your presence!
When Is Baby Sunscreen Not Needed?
If your baby is still under six months of age, you should be focusing on other things and not applying sunscreen to their skin at the time.
Instead, you should make sure your baby is wearing sufficient protective clothing and is kept in the shade with no reflective surfaces. If you get these right, then sunscreen is not needed.
When Should I Stop Applying Baby Sunscreen on My Baby?
Babies over six months of age should always wear sunscreen when outdoors and exposed to the sun. There’s no loss in applying baby sunscreen in these cases, even if your little one is older.
There’s a reason adults with sensitive skin swear by baby sunscreen, you know! Since it’s specifically formulated for delicate skin, it’s kinder on problematic ones.
Still, most brands of baby sunscreen will clearly specify the age they’re best not used beyond on the packaging. So, always check the labeling before buying.
Wrapping it Up
Soaking up some Vitamin D is great, both for you and your little one. However, staying out in the sun isn’t something you can enjoy doing all day long, even if you were to get the absolute best sunscreen there is.
There’s various precautionary measures you should always take, most important of which is keeping your little one away from direct (or indirect) sunlight exposure if they’re still under six months of age.
Adhering to sunlight safety recommendations set forth by experts ensures that your outing is a great one all-around, and you won’t regret it later.
As we’ve seen in this article, mineral sunscreen based on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in cream form is great for babies – probably even the best you can offer them at such a young age. They’re not only kinder on a baby’s delicate skin, but they also do the job exceptionally well.
While sunscreen in cream form is more effective, there’s no harm in trying out different types and seeing what works best for you and your little one most. It might take a little bit of trial and error at first, but you’ll figure out which application method works best for you sooner rather than later.
Stay safe, and have fun!
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