The 7 Best Sunscreens for Kids of 2020

Protect your little ones from the summer rays

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Blue Lizard Sunscreen at Amazon

"It contains no fragrances and no parabens, so it’s good for sensitive skin."

Best Budget: Aveeno Baby Mineral Sunscreen at Amazon

"It offers SPF 50 protection and is sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes."

Best Natural: Adorable Baby All Natural Sunscreen at Amazon

"The formula contains zinc oxide, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and other all-natural ingredients and provides SPF 30 protection."

Best Spray: Kiss My Face Spray Sunscreen at Amazon

"Kiss My Face features a pump spray (not aerosol) that sprays on a nice layer."

Best for Sensitive Skin: Thinkbaby Sunscreen SPF 50 at Amazon

"Many also remark about the clean, fresh papaya scent that doesn’t smell like typical sunscreens."

Best Lotion: Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream at Amazon

"Notes of tangerine and vanilla add a fun fruity scent to this sunscreen as well."

Best Stick: Neutrogena Kids Water Resistant Stick at Amazon

"It’s perfect for getting sun protection onto little noses, cheeks and anywhere else you want a precise application."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Blue Lizard Sunscreen SPF 30

blue-lizard-sunblock

Courtesy of Amazon

For safe, effective sun protection parents feel good about, it’s hard to beat Blue Lizard. Hundreds of online reviewers say this is a beach-bag staple for outdoor family adventures. It contains no fragrances and no parabens, so it’s good for sensitive skin. An added bonus: the bottle turns pink when the UV rays are strong enough that you need to open up the bottle and slather your children with it. The mineral-based formula provides SPF 30 protection and is water-resistant for about 40 minutes.

The cost is a bit higher than some other top brands, but online reviewers say it’s worth it. They say they love the natural formula and feel safe putting it on their children’s precious skin. They say it’s great for those with sensitive skin, such as those who suffer from eczema, and it provides powerful protection from the sun’s rays. Application of the product is on par with other similar sunblocks.

Best Budget: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen

This sunscreen from Aveeno Baby will protect your little ones from sunburn without burning a hole in your wallet. Made with zinc oxide and oat, it offers SPF 50 protection and is sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The hypoallergenic formula contains no parabens, phthalates, or fragrance, and the manufacturers say it’s as mild on the skin as water, so it’s good for those with sensitive skin. 

While some note that it goes on white and requires some rubbing in, overall, they say it’s a great, non-greasy sunscreen at an affordable price.

Best Natural: Adorable Baby By Loving Naturals All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30

Parents who want to keep things as pure as possible love this natural sunscreen from Adorable Baby by Loving Naturals. The formula contains zinc oxide, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and other all-natural ingredients so you know what is in the sunblock and provides SPF 30 protection. It goes on clear (hooray for no telltale chalky white skin!) and is water resistant for up to 40 minutes.

Online reviewers give this sunscreen high marks. They like that it’s free of any fragrance and say it works well to prevent sunburns. Some note that it can be a bit greasy, but most say this is a good sunscreen they feel safe putting on their families and themselves.

Best Spray: Kiss My Face Sun Spray Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 Sunblock

All that rubbing in of sunscreen can be exhausting when it comes to squirmy kids, which is why plenty of parents turn to sunscreen sprays. This one from Kiss My Face features a pump spray (not aerosol) that sprays on a nice layer and significantly cuts down on the time spent rubbing it in to provide adequate coverage.

The SPF 30 formula is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. It’s fragrance-free and doesn’t contain any gluten, phthalates, or parabens. Customers say they love how easily this lotion is absorbed by the skin and that it provides excellent sun protection. They also note that it smells great and doesn’t leave the skin sticky or oily.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50

Many parents want to protect their kids’ skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but they also don’t want to irritate it, which is what many sunscreens do. That’s why this sunscreen from Thinkbaby is a welcome solution for many. The formula is mineral-based, and offers SPF 50-plus protection and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Online reviewers like the thick formula. They say that while it goes on white, it rubs in easily and quickly fades to clear. Many also remark about the clean, fresh papaya scent that doesn’t smell like typical sunscreens.

Best Lotion: Badger SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen

If you prefer a lotion to a spray, this one from Badger offers solid sun protection. The zinc-oxide-based formula offers SPF 30 protection and is water- and sweat-resistant for up to 40 minutes. it also contains sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E to help keep skin feeling soft. Notes of tangerine and vanilla add a fun fruity scent to this sunscreen as well.

Parents like the thick formula, and say you don’t have to use as much of it as you do with other thinner formulas. They say they feel good about the chemical-free formula and love the fresh-smelling scent. Some say it takes a considerable amount of rubbing to get it worked into the skin, but most say this is a good, safe, and affordable way to protect kids from the sun’s harmful rays.

Best Stick: Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Water Resistant Sunscreen Stick

Spray sunscreens and rub-on lotions are great for covering a lot of areas, but they can often get into little eyes. That’s why parents love this stick as a great sunscreen for kids from Neutrogena. It’s perfect for getting sun protection onto little noses, cheeks, and anywhere else you want a precise application. It provides SPF 70 protection, and you and can apply it even when kids are already wet. It’s hypoallergenic, oil-free and PABA-free, and the size is perfect for keeping on hand in a purse, pocket, or beach bag.

Parents say it’s quick and easy to use and great for kids and adults alike. They say it’s not greasy, goes on easy, and doesn’t require any rubbing. Many say it’s a summer staple.

Choosing the Best Sunscreen for Kids and Infants

Vincent Iannelli, MD 

When choosing a sunscreen for their baby, toddler, or young child, parents typically make their choice on a sunscreen using only a few characteristics:

  • The highest SPF they can find, typically 50+ or 100+
  • A kids' brand (Aveeno Baby, Banana Boat Kids, California Baby, Coppertone Kids, Coppertone Waterbabies, Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids, Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby, etc.)

While it is fine to use these, they are really not that much different from those that are made for adults, so you don't necessarily have to buy a separate sunscreen just for your kids.

Remember that sunscreen isn't better just because it is more expensive. In fact, some of the highest-rated sunscreens in a Consumer Reports test were the least expensive, including Up & Up Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 (Target) and Walgreens Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50. All of the most popular sunscreen brands tested by Consumer Reports tested either good or very good, though.

What's New in Sunscreens

While sunscreen sprays were recently the latest and greatest sunscreen technology that everyone had to have and try, this year you will find many new types of sunscreens, including those that are:

  • Tear-free
  • Foaming lotions
  • Wet skin sprays
  • Non-greasy or dry touch lotions that are non-comedogenic (won't cause pimples)

While I usually think many new ideas are just gimmicks to sell more of the same old products, if you have ever gotten sunscreen in your child's eye, you will welcome the tear-free sunscreens.

Best Sunscreens

Things to look for that would indicate that you are buying the 'best sunscreen,' include that it:

  • provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
  • has an SPF of at least 15 to 30. You could go for a higher SPF, but most experts believe that these high SPF sunscreens don't provide that much extra protection. Some experts go as far as to say the SPF rating should be capped at SPF 30 or SPF 50, which provides protection against 97 to 98 percent of UVB rays. Using a high SPF sunscreen might provide more protection for those parents who don't use enough sunscreen and don't reapply it often enough, though.
  • is water-resistant. Even if you aren't going swimming, if your child is outside, he will likely be sweating, so a water-resistant one might provide better protection than regular sunscreen.
  • is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, especially if your child has sensitive skin.
  • is in a form that is easy to use on your child, whether that means it is a stick, gel, lotion, spray, or continuous spray, etc.

New sunscreen rules from the FDA have made it easier to choose a sunscreen. The new rules require testing for broad-spectrum sunscreens, new labels that make it easier to see all sunscreen ingredients, and restrictions on terms like waterproof and sweatproof.

Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens

Unfortunately, many sunscreens that say that they are broad-spectrum really aren't or don't block rays from the full UVA spectrum. To get good protection from UVA rays, look for sunscreens that list avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide as one of their ingredients, in addition to one or more sunscreen ingredients that provide UVB protection.

Sunscreen Ingredients

If your child gets a rash from his sunscreen, you might review the sunscreen ingredient list and choose a different one next time. Make sure to choose one that is PABA free. You might also look for one that gets its UVA protection from a sunblock, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide since they can be less irritating than avobenzone, a common sunscreen ingredient.

Be sure to apply it to just a small area of your child's skin if you think he might have a reaction to the new sunscreen too.

Of all of the sunscreen ingredients, the ones that may concern some parents include retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) and oxybenzone. Although many experts already think they are safe, if you are concerned, you can choose to avoid them by looking for sunscreens with different ingredients.

Kid-Friendly Sunscreen and Sunblock

The best sunscreens and sunblock that have all of the characteristics that you would look for to protect your kids from the sun include:

  • AVEENO Baby Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 50
  • Banana Boat Kids Stick Sunscreen SPF 50
  • Coppertone Water BABIES Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 50)
  • Coppertone KIDS Wet'n Clear Sunscreen Spray (SPF 50)
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Faces Ultra Gentle Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45+

Parents should avoid low SPF sunscreen or suntan lotion, which won't provide enough sun protection for kids.

Getting Extra Sun Protection

Other elements of a good sun protection plan, in addition to traditional sunscreen creams, lotions, and sprays, should include that you consider having your kids:

  • Wear a hat or cap, with a wide-brimmed hat offering the best protection
  • Apply a lip balm that includes a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or above
  • Wear real sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
  • Wear clothing made of tightly-woven fabric or sun protection clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 15 (good sun protection) to 50+ (excellent sun protection)
  • Avoid medications, when possible, that can make them more sensitive to getting a sunburn
  • Get alternative, safer forms of vitamin D than unprotected exposure to the sun's UV rays, including vitamins, milk, and other vitamin D-fortified foods.

And be sure to avoid or limit sun exposure when the sun is at its strongest, from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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