sunscreen1aThe days are getting longer, and the shorts are getting shorter. Long days on the sports playing field and impromptu picnics await you. It’s time to stock up on sunscreen for spring and summer family activities. But with so many choices on the market, it can be hard to decide what types of products to purchase, and which ones to pack.

While many brands of sunscreen work equally well, none work if they are not properly applied. If you’ve ever struggled with a sandy, slimy, lotion streaked toddler, or gotten frustrated while trying to spray a moving ten year old target, this guide is for you.

Sunscreen Lotion:

Pros: Universally available, relatively cheap, familiar.

Cons: Messy, sand sticks to it, leaks in your bag, can take forever to rub in and may stain clothing.

Best Application
: Lotion is best applied on a naked or nearly naked child. At home! Buy the largest size bottle of sunscreen lotion (look for one with a pump top) that you can find and place in your child’s bathroom.

Lotion Pick: Dr T’s Supergoop

Sunscreen Towelettes:

Pros: Make applying sunscreen fast and easy. Not leaky. Not bulky or heavy.

Cons: Pricey. Sunscreen wipes are single application and costly when you calculate on a per application basis.

Best Application
: For babies and toddlers. Wipes are a lifesaver in a pinch, on a playdate where you’ve forgotten the sunscreen. They get the job done fast when you need to swoop in a like a Ninja. Stash a few in your purse, your diaper bag, your glove compartment, your beach bag.

Towelette Pick: BabySilk by MD Moms

Sunscreen Spray:

Pros: Fast, less leaky than lotion, easy to apply evenly/less rubbing in

Cons: You never know when it will run out, hard to apply properly to your face, most formulas sting if they get in your eyes, Containters are bulky.

Best Application: Recharging your SPF at the beach or the pool or sporting events. Store in your car, your beach/pool bag and in your cooler that you take to sporting events & picnics

Sunscreen Spray Pick: Neutrogena


Pros: Portable/compact, easy to use, does not run or drip even when you sweat.

Cons: May cause acne/blocked pores, not generally for use on your whole body.

Best Application
: Ears, noses, cheeks, lips, foreheads, top of the feet, back of the hands. These are all the little areas that take the biggest beating from the sun. Sometimes they need a little extra coverage. These areas are often the first to burn, so they should be the first to be protected. Stash a stick in your purse, your diaper bag, your car.

Sunscreen Stick pick: Baby Blanket Zinc Oxide Sticks

For Moms:

You could and should be using the same stuff as your children, but when it comes to your face, you might think twice. Make up and sunscreen don’t always mix. No worries, there’s a fix for that! Sunscreens that double as foundation keep your complexion protected and pretty.

Mom’s Hybrid Sunscreen Picks: Smart Girls Who Surf FanSea Tinted Sunscreen