Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- How to Pick The Best Sunscreens for Babies and Kids
- What’s the Difference Between Sunscreen and Sunblock?
- Let’s Talk SPFs
- Different Skin Types Need Different Sunscreens
- Sunscreen Lotion, Sprays or Stick?
- Do Sunscreens Expire?
- Traveling with Sunscreen
- Other Things to Consider
- Need Help Planning Your Summer Vacation?
Nothing ruins a trip faster than a painful sunburn! To help keep your little ones protected, we’ve created a guide for picking the best sunscreen for your kids and babies. Whether your kids have sensitive skin or they need sunscreen for different outdoor activities, we’ve got a guide to help you pick the right sun protection for your family!
Disclosure: Brands mentioned provided some consideration.
How to Pick The Best Sunscreens for Babies and Kids
Our family is always ready for summer! We love being outdoors and during the summer months, we spend a lot of time traveling to the beach and our favorite water parks. If you’re looking for How to Plan the Perfect Family Beach Vacation, you can’t forget that sun protection. Sun protection has always been important to me because my mom had skin cancer when I was a teenager and both my daughter and I have had “suspicious” moles removed by our dermatologist.
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While we love having fun in the sun, we’re also very well aware that sun protection is a priority for our family. Nothing ruins a vacation more than a bright red sunburn!
The #1 thing to remember when purchasing sunscreen is that every skin type is different, and one brand or type may not be right for every person in your family. As a mother to three kids, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not a “one size fits all” situation when shopping for sunscreen for my kids.
What’s the Difference Between Sunscreen and Sunblock?
Yes, there are two very different types of sun protection. Sunscreen is a chemical defense; it penetrates the skin and absorbs the UV rays before they damage your skin. Sunblocks sit on top of your skin and defend your skin against UV rays. Don’t get overwhelmed, most sun protection products will include both sunscreen and sunblock in them. The most important thing (according to my pediatrician) is to use broad-spectrum protection for kids. You should look for mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide.
Let’s Talk SPFs
What does SPF stand for? It means sun protection factor. This is an important detail you should pay attention to when purchasing your sunscreen or sunblock. This will help you to know how well the product will protect your kids from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. A SPF 30 product will take the sun 30 times longer to burn the skin and an SPF 50 would take 50 times longer.
Different Skin Types Need Different Sunscreens
Like we mentioned before, different skin types will need different sunscreens. I’ve personally had to learn this truth the hard way. My middle daughter has very fair skin, not the olive skin her sisters have, and she needs a sunscreen that is a higher SPF and is for sensitive skin. My oldest daughter is very active and spends her whole summer in the water so I have to find sunscreens that can hold up to her active lifestyle. There are also sunscreens that are great for multicultural skin types. Check out this one by Sonrei: it’s made for all skin types and pigments. Sonrei is not designed specifically for kids but can be used on them.
What Activities Are The Kids Doing?
It’s important to keep in mind that the activities you’ll be doing will greatly affect which sun protection products you should buy. If you’re visiting the beach or a pool, you’ll want water-resistant sun protection. Here are some of our favorites:
If you’re purchasing sunscreens or blocks for kids who are playing sports, you’ll want to look for ones that indicate they are for sports and are sweat-resistant. My oldest daughter uses sport sunscreens all of the time because she is very active and loves the outdoors.
TravelingMom Tip: Don’t forget to pack sunscreen when skiing. Some of the worst sunburns happen on a snowy mountain because snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays that touch the ground. Also, UV exposure increases at higher altitudes.
Best Sunscreen for Kids with Sensitive Skin?
The answer to this question is one that I’ve personally researched for the last couple of years because my middle daughter had eczema when she was younger and has always had very sensitive skin. When trying to find the right sun protection for her I found that “fragrance-free” was not the only thing I needed to look for. Check the active ingredients to be sure that they include zinc or titanium dioxide–these ingredients are best for those with sensitive skin.
TravelingMom Tip: Even if you purchase a spray sunscreen, you’ll need to rub it into your kid’s skin after spraying it on to be sure that they are well-protected.
Sunscreen Lotion, Sprays or Stick?
When you search Amazon for kids sunscreens you’ll come across all types. You’ll see spray sunscreens, sunscreen lotions and even sunscreen sticks. With all of these options, you might be wondering which one is best for kids? The lotions tend to provide kids with the best overall coverage. The sprays are harder to use when putting sun protection on kid’s faces. The stick sunscreen is handy for traveling, however, I’ve found that they are not as effective. For the best protection use lotions if possible.
If you try to purchase only all-natural products for your family, you’ll be happy to know that there are several options available. When looking for a sunscreen with natural ingredients check out the EWG (environmental working group) their website helps you understand all the ingredients in sunscreens and which ones you’ll want to avoid. Here are two that we recommend:
2. Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion, Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E
Best Sunscreen for Babies
There are sunscreen lotions that are meant to be used on babies because they have such delicate skin. Of course, we want to the best for our little ones so we want to choose a safe sunscreen that will protect them from the harmful UV/UVA rays. Here are some options we recommend:
1. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 & Zinc Oxide, Water-Resistant, Hypoallergenic & Tear-Free Baby Sunscreen
2. Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion Mineral UVA/UVB Face and Body Protection for Sensitive Skin Fragrance-Free
Do Sunscreens Expire?
Yes, they do. Every sunscreen should have an expiration date on it but if yours does not the FDA states that it should be good for 3 years past its purchase date. If the kids are going to visit grandma be sure to have them check the expiration date on the sunscreens in her home that might not be frequently used.
Traveling with Sunscreen
You might be thinking that traveling with sunscreen should be as easy as tossing it in your suitcases and away you go! Well, think again. I packed an aerosol sunscreen to take with me on my Costa Rica vacation but sadly I had to leave it at the airport when our smaller plane did not allow them on-board. Some eco-friendly lodging will not allow aerosols. This is something to keep in mind when picking the right sunscreen for your family vacation.
Other Things to Consider
- UV rays are strongest from 10am to 3pm.
- Don’t forget to use Chapstick that contains sun protection.
- Apply kids sunscreen 15 minutes prior to going out in the sun.
- An SPF of 30 or higher is considered safe. The higher the better for kids.
- You should apply sunscreen to your kids even if they’re in the shade or the sun is not shining.
- Consider purchasing your protective clothing. We love the swimsuits designed to protect kids from the sun. Here are some of our favorites: