Sunscreens. What we use to protect our kids and ourselves from sun damage has suddenly become a very complicated topic.
Eighty percent of the 1,700 sunscreens tested by the Environmental Working Group were found unsafe, ineffective or both. As scary as those numbers are, it’s great to know EWG approved several dozen products as safe for kids.
Below, I’m sharing my top picks in response to those of you who requested it. Hopefully, it will make it easier for you to find the one that’s right for your child’s (or your) needs.
The sensitive skin of babies and children is easily irritated by chemical-based sunscreens, so avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), Vitamin A or oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor. Children’s sunscreens with less irritating mineral-based blocking ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide give the best UVA/UVB protection without the use of such harmful chemicals. They work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. And unlike chemical ingredients, these protect your baby’s or child’s skin without being absorbed.
Illusion Of Safety
Possibly due to an artificial sense of security in the power of sunscreen to protect the skin, melanoma – a deadly form of skin cancer – is on the rise. And people fail to take other measures to protect themselves from the sun, i.e. re-applying often enough, covering up, finding shade when possible, and avoiding the sun at noon. EWG disagrees with FDA’s decision allowing sunscreen makers to claim that their products prevent cancer or that they are ‘broad-spectrum’ giving consumers the illusion they’ve ‘got ’em covered’. This policy may lead people to rely on sunscreen use alone to mitigate their cancer risk – and that may backfire.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under 6 months be kept out of the sun altogether.
SPF numbers measure a sunscreen’s ability to deflect burning UVB rays which burn the superficial layers of the skin. The SPF number does not say anything about a product’s ability to filter the UVA rays that cause deep skin damage, cause wrinkles and potentially, melanoma.
Safest Sunscreens For Kids
(All the following sunscreens have received a top score of 1 from EWG and are Kid-safe as well as Chemical-free, Paraben-free, petroleum-free, Fragrance-free, PABA-free.)
Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen, SPF 30 Plus My top pick for kids and myself. Real, God-made Ingredients: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 23%, *Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea), *Camellia Sinensis (Black Tea), *Cannabis Savita (Hemp Seed) Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Coffea Arabica (Coffee Bean), *Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, *Mangifera Indica (Mango Butter) Seed Butter, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Butter) Seed Butter, Tocopherol. * = Certified Organic.
Received a top score of 1 from EWG for adults, but because it is very water resistant (beyond 80 minutes), yet gentle and moisturizing, it is perfect for young ones. A thicker consistency but spreads very easily and the whiteness factor is there, but minimum. This is great for swimming, heavy sweating, or water play. I’m giving it the BEST INGREDIENTS AWARD: as good as, if not better (more antioxidant-rich botanical) ingredients than Badger, in my opinion. Hypoallergenic, Reef Safe, Gluten free, Cruelty free, Vegan, Non-GMO.
Badger Balm SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen Cream (vanilla and tangerine), My close second pick for kids. Ingredients: Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 18.75%, *Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, *Cera alba (Beeswax), *Citrus aurantium dulcis (Sweet orange) peel oil, *Citrus tangerina (Tangerine) peel oil, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E), *Hippophae rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) fruit extract, *Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) fruit extract. *= Certified Organic.
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream is almost identical, but replaces Vanilla and Tangerine with Chamomile and Calendula.
Voted #1 BEST KIDS’ SUNSCREEN by Livestrong.com. and rated a 4.5 Stars from 273 reviews on Amazon. Badger seems to have mastered making their sunscreens less white on the skin without compromising the safety. Their sunscreens are now thicker and stay on for swimming (at least 40 minutes), but the “sticky” feeling has been greatly reduced. Coral reef-safe. Gluten free, Cruelty free, Vegan. Non-GMO.
Jersey Kids Organic Sunscreen Baby Safe, SPF 30 Ingredients: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 25%, Artesian Spring Water, Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Shea Butter, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax NF, Vegetable Vitamin E (Non-GMO from sunflower seeds).
Voted #1 BEST ALL-PURPOSE SUNSCREEN by Livestrong.com. Non-GMO plant extracts, vitamins and botanicals. Anti-aging, Safe for the Whole Family, Baby Safe, Tested Broad Spectrum Protection. Biodegradable. Gluten- free. Reef- Friendly, Cruelty-Free, Vegan.
Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen, SPF 30+ Ingredient: Uncoated Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 24.7%, Grape Seed Oil, Organic Sunflower Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (from Coconut Oil), Organic Beeswax, Stearic Acid (from Palm Oil), Organic Honey, Sea Salt, Purified Water.
Both the ingredients and the performance are excellent. If you refuse to use a sunscreen that makes you look white, look no more! Reviews say it feels like a natural sunscreen but it blends well and it applies CLEAR! No one needs to look ghostly. This can be used for the face, especially at the beach, swimming laps at the pool, tennis or other outdoor sport or water play.
Organic Ingredients (Non-GMO), Broad Spectrum Protection, Cruelty Free, Gluten Free, Water Resistant, Reef-safe.
Thinksport Kid’s Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ Ingredients: Zinc oxide 20% (non-nano), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Extract, Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides, Sorbitan stearate (coconut based), Pinus Wood Resin, vegetable glycerin, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Carica Papaya Fruit, Cetyl Dimethicone, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil , Hydrogenated Castor Oil, magnesium Sulfate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Purified water.
Rated a 4.5 Stars in 287 Amazon reviews. This does rate REALLY well with EWG’s Skin Deep scores an ‘excellent’ for UVA and SPF protection. Applies and absorbs easily non-oily feel. Highest SPF 50 plus, water resistance is 80 minutes. Rich in antioxidants and botanicals to protect and nourish skin.
BurnOut Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 35 Ingredients: Zinc Oxide (non-nano) 18.9%, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Water, Glycerin, Polysorbate 60, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Stearyl Alcohol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-3 Ricinoleate, Isostearic Acid, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Helionori, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Plantago Lanceolata (Plantain) Leaf Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Ethylhexylglycerin.
Received a top score of 1 from EWG. Voted BEST KIDS’ SPORT SUNSCREEN (Tied for #1) by Livestrong.com.
Hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, non-greasy, for sensitive skin. Biodegradable, ocean-safe. Rich in Antioxidants and botanicals to protect and nourish skin.
All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 Ingredients: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (16%), Purified Water, Caprylic/capric triglycerides, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Methylcellulose, Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Gel, Bladderwrack (Fucus Vesiculosus) Extract, Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus) Extract, d-alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Dehydroxanthan Gum, Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis) Seed Extract, Jojoba Oil, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Sea Kelp (Macrocystis Pyrifera) Extract
Safe for sensitive skin. Very water/sweat resistant; Proven effective up to 80 minutes in water. Non-Nano, transparent and non-whitening. No eye sting and non-greasy.
Goddess Garden Kid’s Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 6.4%, Zinc Oxide 6.0%, Aloe Vera*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut Oil), Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside (Coconut Oil), Glycerin*, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Oil*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Lecithin (Sunflower), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Xanthan Gum (*CERTIFIED ORGANIC)
Non-Nano, Reef-safe, Gluten free, Cruelty free, Vegan, and non-GMO.
Sunology Natural Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 For Kids Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 7.5%, Zinc Oxide 10%, Aluminum Hydroxide, BIS-PEG-12 Dimethicone Candelillate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, C18-38 Alkyl Hydroxystearoyl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Feruloyl Soy Glycerides, Glyceryl Isostearate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Hydrated Silica, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Tocopherol.
This sunscreen doesn’t leave any white residue and is very easy to spread. Fragrance free. For sensitive skin. Gentle for a smooth and soothing application, will not burn skin or eyes. Reef-safe.
Invest in your skin. It is going to represent you for a very long time.
I’d love to know your recommendations for safer sunscreens. Please share any in the comments.