The Best Sunscreen for Kids: Safe and Effective Options for UV Protection

putting sunscreen on child


Getting out of the house and enjoying the sunshine is one of the best ways to stop your kids from living behind the TV or iPad this summer. But like with most things, too much of anything isn't good so you'll want to ensure that you have plenty of sun protection on board. The best sunscreen for kids offers maximum UV protection, but is also safe and easy to use.

Nothing’s worse than a face or body burn so be sure to pay attention to the level of UV protection as well as the sunscreen’s ingredient label even if your kids don't have sensitive skin.

With so many kid-friendly sunscreens out there, it’s wise to do plenty of research into different brands of sunscreen. If your sunscreen search is becoming too tedious, though, we’ve got you covered. Below we share some of the best sunscreens for kids so you can take full advantage of summer without worrying about your little ones getting burned.

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The Best Sunscreen for Kids - Our Top Picks

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Do Kids Need Special Sunscreen?

Children have thinner and more absorbent skin so it’s important to use natural sunscreens or those designed specifically for children. Most sunscreen for kids is mineral-based because it’s more natural and less likely to cause skin irritation. If you want to avoid exposing your child to harmful chemicals, then it’s important to pay close attention to the ingredient label.

This also depends on the age of your child. If you have a baby or toddler, get sunscreen that is safe for their age. Some adult sunscreens contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone. Before using sunscreen on your child, check that it’s free from this and other harsh chemicals. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the sun-blocking ingredients currently deemed "safe" for children.

What to Look for in Sunscreen for Kids


Formula and Ingredients

The ingredient label is the most important aspect of your kid's sunscreen. Try to avoid exposing your child to harmful chemicals since they can cause skin irritation and may be harmful to the body. Ensure that your kid's sunscreen is formulated with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, avobenzone, or octinoxate.

Type

There are two main types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreen typically contains more ingredients. It fully absorbs the skin to convert the sun's rays into energy to prevent sunburn.

Physical sunscreen is sometimes referred to as mineral-based and is typically the more natural option. Physical sunscreen sits on top of the skin, deflects the UV rays, and is usually thicker than chemical sunscreen. If you're looking for a more natural option, then physical sunscreen is the way to go.

Water Resistance

Most summer-related activities involve water. Even if water isn't involved, then you'll probably be sweating if you're out in the sun. Opting for a water-resistant sunscreen can help ensure that it works longer and better. Water resistance also means you won't have to reapply your sunscreen much. However, you’ll likely still need to reapply sunscreen even if it’s water-resistant to ensure it works well.

Best Sunscreen for Kids Overall - Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen

Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 50+
  • Available sizes: 6 oz., 3oz.
  • Active ingredient(s): Zinc Oxide
  • Best for: Everyday usage

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Looking for an everyday kid's sunscreen? We recommend the Thinkbaby sunscreen. With a fast absorbing application and a natural mineral base, it’s specially formulated to go on easily and prevent an oily or sticky residue. The clean ingredients are also safe for babies and children of all ages.

It’s recommended that you reapply this sunscreen every 80 minutes if your little ones are actively swimming or sweating. We also like how it has a water-resistant SPF 50 formula, making it useful for long days in sunlight.

PROS

  • Reef-safe formula
  • Goes on easily
  • Natural ingredients that are safe for babies and young children
  • Water-resistant
  • Great for everyday use
  • High SPF protects against strong UV rays

CONS

  • Need to reapply at least every 2 hours
  • Contains some chemical ingredients but still safe to use

BUY: Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen

Best Sunscreen for Kids with Eczema - CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen

CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 30
  • Available sizes: 5oz
  • Active ingredient(s): Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide
  • Best for: Preventing sunburn without causing skin irritation

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If your child has sensitive skin or eczema, you'll want to be extra careful when selecting sunscreen. Harsh chemicals in other formulas could cause skin irritation and exacerbate eczema flare-ups. The CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen is a gentle sunscreen considered safe and effective, even for eczema.

It’s designed to nourish the skin while acting as a physical barrier between the skin and UVA/UVB rays. Made with natural ingredients, it’s safe to use and free from oxybenzone, avobenzone, and benzene. CeraVe sunscreen is also made with ceramides which help to nourish and restore skin.

PROS

  • Unique formula nourishes the skin
  • Mineral-based and made with natural ingredients
  • No greasy or sticky residue
  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • Fragrance and paraben free

CONS

  • Lower SPF than some other options
  • May leave a white cast on the skin

BUY: CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen

Best Spray Sunscreen for Kids - Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Spray

Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Spray

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 50
  • Available sizes: 6 oz.
  • Active ingredient(s): Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide
  • Best for: Easily applying to active children

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Spray on sunscreen is almost always a great idea—it’s quick, easy to use, and sticks to the skin easily. It’s a reliable option for parents, especially if you have busy children ready to sprint to the shore the second you get to the beach. And with the Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Spray, you can quickly spray everyone in the family down.

It’s natural and hypoallergenic because it’s made with a mineral formula that’s safe for even the family's youngest members. We also like that it’s sweat and water resistant so it can withstand the test of long summer days spent in the sun.

PROS

  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Lightweight and easy to apply
  • Lasts for up to 2 hours
  • Natural, chemical-free formula
  • Blocks UVA and UVB rays
  • Non-greasy formula

CONS

  • May leave a white cast on the skin
  • The cap can sometimes leak or spray poorly
  • Sometimes difficult to wash off skin and hair

BUY: Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Spray

Best Mineral Sunscreen for Kids - Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 50
  • Available sizes: 3 oz.
  • Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide
  • Best for: Gentle sun protection

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The Aveeno Kids mineral sunscreen is designed to protect skin from the sun using simple, mild, and natural ingredients like oats and water. This sunscreen lotion is safe for sensitive skin and is tear-free, making it ideal for use with children. The natural formula is free from phthalates, fragrances, and parabens.

With zinc oxide as the active ingredient, this sunscreen effectively protects the skin from burning when used properly. It can even be used on the face, and it's able to be used on adults as well.

PROS

  • Natural, gentle ingredient label
  • Safe for use on the face and body
  • Tear-free formula is ideal for kids
  • Rubs in well and is non-greasy
  • Broad spectrum sun protection

CONS

  • Must be used in small quantities to prevent leaving a white cast
  • Contains some chemical ingredients

BUY: Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Best Natural Sunscreen for Kids - Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream

Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 40
  • Available sizes: 2.9 oz.
  • Active ingredient(s): Uncoated zinc oxide
  • Best for: Water-resistant sun protection

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Looking for an all-natural option to protect your little ones? This gentle mineral sunscreen is made with natural, organic ingredients that can keep your kids burn-free without exposing them to harmful chemicals. Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen features zinc oxide as its active ingredient to function as a barrier between the skin and the sun.

The other ingredients are natural and organic, featuring things like beeswax, sunflower seed oil, orange oil, and more. Just keep in mind that it should be reapplied every 80 minutes when swimming.

PROS

  • Natural and sustainable ingredients
  • Water resistant when reapplied
  • Free from toxic chemicals
  • Hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin

CONS

  • Thick consistency makes it harder to rub in
  • May leave a residue or white cast on the skin

BUY: Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream

Best Sunscreen for Kids with Sensitive Skin - Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 50
  • Available sizes: 3 oz. (2 pack)
  • Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide
  • Best for: Babies and kids with sensitive skin

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The Aveeno Baby sunscreen is made to prevent sunburn while also nourishing the skin. Babies and younger children naturally have sensitive skin so it’s never a bad idea to opt for a sunscreen like this one. If your child has particularly sensitive skin, then this sunscreen's gentle formulation can help prevent skin irritation. This sunscreen is made with soothing ingredients like oat extract.

Free from phthalates, fragrances, and parabens, it’s safe for babies and free from harsh chemicals. The two-pack is convenient, and the smaller package size makes this sunscreen travel-friendly. Plus, the consistency is non-greasy and designed to absorb well into the skin.

PROS

  • Travel-friendly two-pack offers versatility and convenience
  • Natural, non-toxic ingredients
  • Safe, gentle formula
  • Free from harmful chemicals like fragrance, parabens, and phthalates

CONS

  • Can be difficult to wash off surfaces and clothing
  • Thicker consistency

BUY: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Best Face Sunscreen for Kids - Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 60+
  • Available sizes: 0.47 oz. (3 pack)
  • Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide
  • Best for: Gentle sun protection on the face

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For kids especially, it can be better to use a different sunscreen for the face than for the body since the face is typically more sensitive. The Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick is designed to be used on the face. With sun protection of SPF 60+, this sunscreen is effective even on the sunniest days. The active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which protect the skin naturally and holistically.

We also like that it’s made fragrance-free and free from other harmful chemicals. This broad spectrum face sunscreen stick is convenient and effective. Simply rub it on your baby's face without getting any on your hands. It rubs in easily and protects against UVA and UVB rays.

PROS

  • Conveniently packaged and easy to use
  • Comes in a three pack
  • Fragrance-free
  • Water-resistant
  • Hypoallergenic

CONS

  • Contains some chemical ingredients
  • Has to be rubbed quite a bit to apply

BUY: Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick

Best Non-Toxic Sunscreen for Kids - Kabana Organic Green Screen Original Sunscreen

Kabana Organic Green Screen Original Sunscreen

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 32
  • Available sizes: 4 oz. (2 pack)
  • Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide
  • Best for: Full-body sun protection

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The Kabana Organic Green Screen sunscreen is safe for everyone in your family thanks to a minimal ingredient label that contains mostly natural ingredients. This sunscreen is fragrance-free, gluten-free, and vegan. The active ingredient is zinc oxide, and it only contains a total of 8 ingredients.

With an SPF of 32, keep in mind that the UV protection is slightly lower than other options. But compared with other brands, this sunscreen has a much shorter ingredient list of natural ingredients, including olive oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter.

PROS

  • Minimal ingredient label
  • Allergen free
  • Biodegradable and reef safe
  • 86% organic ingredients

CONS

  • Lower SPF than some other brands
  • Not waterproof

BUY: Kabana Organic Green Screen Original Sunscreen

Best Budget Sunscreen for Kids - Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids

Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids

SPECS

  • Type: Mineral based
  • Sun protection: SPF 50
  • Available sizes: 2 oz.
  • Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide
  • Best for: All-day sun protection

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You don’t have to spend a fortune on a safe and effective kids' sunscreen. Coppertone’s Pure & Simple Kids sunscreen is affordable and practical for any family. With a gentle formula safe for sensitive skin, you don’t have to worry about it causing any skin irritation. It’s also made with 100-percent naturally sourced zinc oxide plus nourishing extracts (tea leaf, sea kelp, and lotus).

Free of fragrance, dyes, parabens, PABA, alcohol, octinoxate, and oxybenzone, this sunscreen is water resistant and can be used all day long for outdoor and water activities. It is recommended that this sunscreen is reapplied every 80 minutes when swimming or sweating.

PROS

  • Hypoallergenic formula
  • Free from harmful chemicals like fragrance, dyes, and parabens
  • Long-lasting and water resistant
  • Gentle, skin-friendly ingredients

CONS

  • Can be difficult to wash off
  • May leave a white cast on the skin

BUY: Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids

FAQs About Sunscreen for Kids


What is the best sunscreen for kids?

The best sunscreen for kids is one that’s effective and contains natural, safe ingredients. We recommend using a kid-friendly, mineral-based sunscreen that’s free from harmful chemicals such as fragrance, parabens, and phthalates. It is important to use kid products that are free from these chemicals since kids can be sensitive to these toxic ingredients.

Every child will have unique needs like hypoallergenic ingredients or a sensitive skin formula. If your kid has sensitive skin or allergies, pay extra attention to ingredient labels.

What is the difference between kids' and babies' sunscreen?

Some sunscreens are designed for toddlers and older kids, while others are made specifically for infants or older children. The main difference is that baby sunscreen usually contains gentler ingredients and less harmful chemicals.

However, you don't have to purchase a different sunscreen for everyone in your family. It is typically okay for older kids and adults to use sunscreens that are also considered safe for babies.

Who should use sunscreen?

Everyone benefits from using sunscreen. While small amounts of sun exposure are great for the body, sunburn can damage the skin and cause an increased risk of skin cancer. If you plan to spend a long period outside, you should use sun protection to keep your skin safe.

Kids are particularly vulnerable to sunburns since they have younger, more delicate skin. You can also use sunscreen and other protective measures such as protective clothing to double up on sunburn prevention measures.

How often should you apply sunscreen to a child?

Most sunscreens recommend reapplying every 80 minutes to 2 hours, but this varies by brand. Check your sunscreen's label to determine the recommended time frame for reapplication. If you plan to be outside all day, you should plan on reapplying your child's sunscreen at least once, but likely more.

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