Summer sunshine has a way of uplifting moods and bringing smiles to faces. It’s a free source of good old Vitamin D, and it ripens the fruit and vegetables in our gardens that will give us nourishment. It warms up our bodies and souls and chases us off to play outside, at the lake or the playground.
However, as with everything, there are cons that come along with all the pros. While some sun is good for us, too much of those UV rays cause us skin damage and cancer. To protect against that we make sure to cover up with hats, sunglasses and clothing, but sometimes the skin is bared and we rely on sunscreen to protect us and our wee ones.
Unfortunately, sunscreen has it’s drawbacks, too. Hiding in our tubes of protective cream and spray there are carcinogens, chemicals that mess with hormones, and even natural ingredients that react with the sun to cause skin damage (who knew vitamin A, while generally beneficial for skin, is damaging when exposed to sunlight??). While I’ve been somewhat negligent with my own sun safety, throwing on any cheap sunscreen or leaving it off altogether (something I’m trying to work on), I’ve been pretty cautious with putting it on my little one’s young skin, and using a “safe” variety.
So what’s the best sunscreen for kids?
I’ve been having a tough time finding a sunscreen that I feel confident about using on my little one. I’ve tried out a wide variety of different brands, and am still keeping my eyes out for the *perfect* one (even though I know perfection doesn’t really exist, one can dream). In my quest for safe and effective sunscreen for kids (well, for everyone, really, we just care more about kids) I referred to the Green Moms Collective website and found this article that I found very helpful in guiding my search. If you’re wondering how to choose a good sunscreen, I recommend checking it out. You can also check out the EWG website, which is a website that has ranked different products (including sunscreen) for health and environmental safety, with details as to where each product went wrong or right.
The basic tips I found for choosing sunscreen are these: avoid ingredients with oxybenzone (absorbs into the bloodstream to mess with hormones) as well as vitamin A (which I already mentioned causes skin damage when exposed to sunlight). Spray-on sunscreens are also to be avoided, since they are wasteful and can be breathed in, damaging lungs. Instead, opt for cream sunscreens with minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) as the active ingredients. Also, steer clear of nanoparticles (a particular form of zinc oxide) which absorbs into the bloodstream. Generally, the “safest” sunscreens I’ve found seem to highlight these choices right on the bottle so you can easily see.
The unfortunate part is that many of the mineral sunscreens are not water resistant, or are only water resistant for a small time frame. As the time when we need sunscreen the most is when we’re playing in water, with all the UV rays refracting off the water and back at us, water resistance is a key quality I look for in sunscreen. If you’ve ever attempted to screen up a toddler after they’ve already been in the water (any time, really), you understand the challenge, and how ideal it is to have a long-term water resistant sunscreen that needs to reapplied less often.
Here are some of the sunscreens we’ve tried, and what I think of each one so far.
Aveeno Baby – Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55
This sunscreen was the first I tried. I thought I was making a healthy choice for my babe, but now that I read and understand the ingredients (including oxybenzone), I probably wouldn’t buy it again. It worked well to keep her from burning and didn’t dry her out, so if you’re not worried about the chemicals, it might be a good choice for you. It is waterproof and fragrance free. To each their own. Everything seems to “give you cancer” nowadays, so we all just have to pick our battles. Which is better? Burns and damage from the sun, or a bit of exposure to oxybenzone? I don’t know.
Green Beaver – Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40
I chose this one as it was recommended in many places as a safe choice. I was happy to find a mineral sunscreen that was water and sweat resistant (up to 40 minutes). Unfortunately, this particular sunscreen dried out my little one’s skin, and I would prefer a water resistance for a longer timeframe than 40 minutes. Still, it works well and I know many others who have been happy using it and that didn’t notice a drying out effect. The one I have shown above from Amazon says “adult”, whereas the one I used said “kids”, but when I compared the ingredients they seemed to be the same. I’m not certain, but I think this just might be different labeling to encourage sales. What do you think?
Kiss My Face – Kids Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Having misplaced the tube of sunscreen we were using recently (see below), I had to pop into a drugstore quickly to pick up a new sunscreen for using on the way to the boat for an evening of fishing on the water (hello, pink salmon, pleased to eat you). Armed with the info to guide my choice, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. I had to choose between mineral or water proof, and since we wouldn’t be going in the water that evening, I opted for this mineral sunscreen without a water resistance factor. I figured that since we often play outside without splashing in water, at the playground or in the yard, it might be beneficial to use a non-water-resistant sunscreen for these occasions and save the more expensive, water-resistant mineral sunscreen for water fun only. This was the best choice available for my compromise, and while it didn’t rub on as clearly and smoothly as the other sunscreens (I was left with white, tacky hands), it did work really well to keep baby from burning.
SunClear – Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+
This was by far my favourite sunscreen! It covered all the bases (mineral, non-nano, and 2 hours of water resistance) and didn’t dry out my baby’s soft little skin. It’s also reef-friendly, so I don’t feel bad about it going into our lakes and oceans, as it isn’t harmful to the organisms that live in these ecosystems. Made in Australia, I would expect a sunscreen with some serious protection. The only drawback was the price (I paid around $25 for a 50g tube in a health store), but it spreads really well so it does go a long ways. Since the first purchase, I’ve found SunClear cheaper on Amazon buy buying a larger 2 oz (56g) tube, so I’ll be doing this from now on. It’s also a bit greasy, but this I’m okay to compromise on, and it hasn’t seemed to stain anything, so I’m alright with this.
What sunscreen brands have you had the best success with? Comment below or add your recommendation to The Big To Do List Facebook page.
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*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. If you were to purchase any of the sunscreen products from Amazon using these links, I would receive a small compensation, which would go to helping keep this blog up and running. Some of the products I’ve linked to are also listed in my Amazon aStore, which has a bunch of products I have used (or wish I had thought to use) for my growing little one. Be sure to check it out if you’re curious what my best picks have been, and what else is out there that might help make life a little easier and more enjoyable.