Harsh sun rays can cause lasting damage to the baby’s delicate skin. Sunscreen lotions and creams mitigate this risk. So, if you are taking your baby outdoors on a bright and sunny day, a sunscreen should certainly be on the top of your checklist.
But what sunscreen should you use for your baby? Are all sunscreens the same? In this article, MomJunction tells you about 19 best sunscreens for babies and shares some tips on sunscreen usage for infants.
When Can Babies Apply Sunscreen?
You can apply sunscreen to an infant aged six months or older (1). The American Academy of Pediatrics states that infants below the age of six months have extremely sensitive skin and should be kept out of direct sunlight (2).
If protection from sun rays is not entirely possible, pediatric experts recommend the use of appropriate protective clothing and physical barriers such as canopies and umbrellas over sunscreen. Even regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration recommend avoiding sunscreen for infants under six months (3).
If you do have to use sunscreen for your baby, consult your doctor before doing so.
How To Choose The Best Sunscreen For Babies?
You may follow the below checklist while shopping for a sunscreen for your baby:
- Select broad-spectrum sunscreens: Experts recommend selecting sunscreens that have a broad-spectrum rating on it. It means that the sunscreen will protect against the UVA and UVB rays of the sun (4).
- SPF should be between 15 and 50: Sun protection factor or SPF indicates the level of protection provided by a sunscreen lotion. For babies, a sunscreen with an SPF factor between 15 and 50 or above will do.
- Choose the ideal form of sunscreen: Sunscreens are available in the form of cream, sticks, gels, wipes, and sprays. Sunscreen lotions and creams are ideal for all body parts and the best choice for an infant. Sticks are suitable for application on the face and hard-to-reach areas such as behind the ears. Gels are non-sticky and can be good during humid weather. Sunscreen wipes provide limited protection, and sprays are not recommended for infants since the droplets spread easily and can be inhaled by the little one. Also, sprays are often inflammable.
- Choose mineral-based sunscreens for face: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide act as natural barriers. They are the best sunscreen protection compounds for a baby’s skin. Zinc oxide or titanium oxide-based sunscreen may not absorb completely into the skin and leave a white layer on the surface, which acts as a physical barrier against UV rays.
- Avoid fragrances: Chemical-based scents and fragrances in the sunscreen can be harmful and irritating to infants.
- Choose sunblocks over sunscreens: The terms sunscreens and sunblocks are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Sunscreens contain chemicals that absorb UV rays and render them harmless. Sunblocks are creams/lotions with an SPF rating higher than 15 and deflect both UVA and UVB rays (5)(6).
Sunblocks are favored over sunscreens as they contain mineral-based compounds to shield the skin from UV rays. Most baby sunscreens are similar to sunblocks since they use mineral-based barriers and protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Nevertheless, look for both the hallmarks of sunblock in a baby sunscreen before buying it.
While mineral-based compounds offer added protection against sunlight, there are some chemicals that you must avoid right away.
Ingredients To Avoid:
Avoid purchasing sunscreens that contain the following compounds:
- Oxybenzone and avobenzone can disrupt production of several hormones in the body when absorbed by the skin (7).
- Parabens (compounds ending with the name paraben) are often added to lotions as preservatives to prevent bacterial or fungal contamination. However, research shows that they may cause cancer when used long-term (8).
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), also known as 4-Aminobenzoic acid, is a compound naturally found in food grains and mushrooms. Manufacturers often add PABA to sunscreen lotions since it has UV absorption qualities. However, the substance is slightly poisonous and has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction in infants (9).
- Phthalates, chemical name Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), work as a lubricant in lotions and skin creams. Research suggests that constant exposure to phthalates may affect the reproductive system (10).
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone are preservatives often added to lotions and creams to increase their shelf life. The two compounds have been linked to skin allergies in infants in some studies (11). These compounds often go unnoticed due to their complicated names. Therefore, double check them while buying sunscreen for your baby.
- Propylene glycol is added as a fragrance and also for extra moisturization. But the chemical is a potential skin irritant with long-term use linked to toxicity (12). When looking for this substance look for names like 1,2-propylene glycol, propylene glycol, methyl ethyl glycol, and 1,2-propanediol.
While most baby sunscreen lotions do not contain these chemicals, it is always safe to read the label thoroughly.
TOP Best Sunscreen Lotions For Babies
We have compiled a list of 19 best sunscreen lotions for babies under five categories, viz.
- Best baby sunscreens for regular use
- Baby sunscreens for eczema
- Sunscreens for baby’s face
- Sunscreens for babies with sensitive skin
- Best organic baby sunscreens
Best baby sunscreens for regular use
These sunscreens are ideal for everyday usage.
1. Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
- Broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 50+ rating.
- Free of harmful chemicals and safe for use on all parts of the infant’s body.
- Mineral-based, zinc-oxide formulation. Non-greasy and free of any nanoparticles.
- Water resistant formulation provides water resistance up to 80 minutes after application.
- Complies with US FDA rules. No animal testing.
2. Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion
- Mineral-based sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium oxide as active ingredients.
- Non-allergenic formulation with SPF 50+.
- Contains natural seed oils that help moisturize the skin as well.
- Free of harmful chemicals and nanoparticles.
- Tested by pediatricians and dermatologists. No animal testing.
3. Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
- Broad-spectrum protection sunscreen with SPF 30+ rating.
- Fragrance-free with no harmful chemicals and parabens.
- Mineral-based formulation with zinc and titanium.
- Dermatologically tested and safe for all skin types.
- Specially designed bottle that turns pink when exposed to UV light. Parents can use the bottle as a UV level indicator when going outdoors with the infant.
4. Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream
- Water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies. Provides water and sweat resistance up to 40 minutes after application.
- No harmful chemicals and nanoparticles. A mineral-based formula.
- 100% natural vegetable oils.
- The cream soothes and moisturizes the infant’s skin while offering protection from UV rays.
- Free of BPA and phthalates. Tube made from recycled plastic.
- Approved safe by pediatricians. No animal testing.
5. Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen
- Zinc oxide and titanium oxide sunscreen made from naturally sourced ingredients.
- Protects against sunburn and long-term damage to skin due to repeated exposure to sunlight.
- Free of harmful chemicals like oxybenzone. Also, does not contain parabens.
- A pediatrician-tested formula that is mild and suitable for all skin types.
- Non-stinging, and water resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
Baby sunscreens for eczema
Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a type of skin inflammation caused by faulty genes or environmental factors (13). Infants with these conditions can be sensitive to skin products. This section lists down sunscreens that are safe for babies with eczema.
6. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen
- Broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen specially formulated for babies with eczema. Has an SPF 50 protection.
- Zinc oxide used in the formula is naturally sourced.
- Does not cause burning sensation that skin products often cause babies with eczema.
- Water resistant and hypoallergenic formula.
- Dermatologically tested. Approved by the US National Eczema Association.
- Fragrance-free and does not contain harmful chemicals or dyes.
7. Sunblocz Baby Sunscreen
- SPF 50+ rating with broad-spectrum protection.
- Zinc-based formula and water resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
- Contains natural seed oils to nourish and moisturize the skin. Zinc oxide is also claimed to be sourced naturally.
- Does not sting the skin on application. Free of gluten and other allergens.
- Also works as a bug and mosquito repellent.
- No added fragrance or harmful chemicals and preservatives. Meets the norms of US FDA.
8. TruKid Eczema Daily Sunscreen
- Available in the form of a sunscreen stick, it is easier to use on different parts of the infant’s body.
- Safe for infants with eczema.
- Non-greasy, mineral-based formula with no harsh chemicals.
- Protects against UVA and UVB rays. Stays water resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
- Contains natural oils and plant-based butter to moisturize the baby’s skin.
- Compact, leak-proof packaging makes it ideal for carrying during travel.
Sunscreens for baby’s face
These sunscreens are specially formulated for the sensitive facial skin of babies.
9. Neutrogena Pure And Free Baby Faces Sunscreen
- The mineral-based, tear-free sunscreen for babies is safe for application on the face.
- Made from compounds and minerals sourced naturally.
- Broad-spectrum protection with SPF 45+ rating. Water resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
- Prevents sunburns even after prolonged exposure to sunlight.
- Safe for all infants above the age of six months.
- Hypoallergenic sunscreen.
- Free of harmful compounds that could irritate the baby’s skin.
10. Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Face Stick Sunscreen
- The stick format sunscreen is easy to use and convenient for applying around the nostrils and tops of the ears.
- Sweat and water resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
- A mineral-based formula with broad-spectrum protection of SPF 50+.
- Naturally-sourced ingredients. Contains oats that moisturize and nourish the baby’s skin. Free of harsh chemicals and preservatives.
- The stick is only 3.2in (8cm) in length and is easy to carry around.
11. Kiss My Face Baby’s Sunscreen Lotion
- Titanium dioxide-based sunscreen with vegetable oils to nourish and moisturize the baby’s skin.
- Contains natural extracts of chamomile and aloe vera to protect the skin from the damage caused by UV rays.
- SPF 50 rating with broad-spectrum UV protection. Water resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
- Does not contain harmful chemicals and preservatives. Vegan and not tested on animals.
- Compact packaging with a flip-open lid makes it easy to carry and apply.
12. Babyganics Pure Mineral Sunscreen Stick
- Mineral-based sunscreen stick with SPF 50 rating. Protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Free of harmful chemicals and preservatives. Pediatrician and dermatologist tested.
- Contains natural seed oil to soothe and moisturize the baby’s skin.
- Water and sweat resistant up to 80 minutes after application.
- A non-allergenic formula, not tested on animals.
Sunscreens for babies with sensitive skin
Some infants are particularly sensitive to skin products and could display a reaction to them. Here are a few sunscreens that are ideal for sensitive skin.
13. California Baby Sunscreen
- Developed for infants with sensitive and extra sensitive skin. No harmful chemicals and preservatives used.
- Mineral-based formulation with SPF 30+ protection against UVA and UVB rays.
- Non-fragrant, vegan, and does contain allergenic substances like gluten and soy. No animal testing.
- Contains natural vegetable oils for moisturization.
- Protects against long-term sun damage. Water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes after application.
14. CeraVe Baby Sunscreen
- Contains all-natural ingredients including naturally-sourced minerals.
- Ceramides and aloe vera extracts help soothe the skin and protect from harsh sunlight.
- Protection against UVA and UVB rays with SPF 45 rating.
- Hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and water resistant. Not tested on animals.
- Developed with dermatologists’ consultation. Free of parabens and sulfates.
15. Aveeno Baby Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion
- Zinc oxide-based sunscreen lotion that provides broad-spectrum protection and has an SPF 50 rating.
- Free of parabens and phthalate. Does not contain any harsh dyes and chemicals.
- Non-greasy and resistant to water for 80 minutes after application.
- Contains oats to soothe skin irritation caused by direct exposure to sunlight.
- Is fragrance-free and does not sting on application.
Best organic baby sunscreens
These sunscreens are made with raw materials that are organically sourced and mostly non-GMO (genetically modified organism).
16. Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Lotion
- Broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen lotion made with certified organic oils.
- Natural seed oils nourish the baby’s skin. Non-greasy and consistent, easy to rub into the skin.
- Water resistant organic baby sunscreen with protection up to 80 minutes from the water.
- Free of chemicals like phthalate and sulfate. Does not contain allergenic substances like gluten and soy.
- Only contains natural fragrance of oils. Vegan formulation.
17. Tender Sprouts Organic Baby Sunscreen
- Zinc oxide-based organic sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
- Made from certified organic raw materials. All ingredients are non-GMO.
- Does not contain allergenic substances like gluten, soy, and corn or dairy.
- With an SPF rating of 35 and high zinc oxide content of 25%, this sunscreen provides excellent mineral-based protection against sunlight.
- Vegetable oil and added vitamins nourish the baby’s skin. Vegan and no animal testing.
18. Miami Cool Kids LaPlaya Zinc Organic Sun Stick
- Organic sunscreen stick with broad-spectrum protection and SPF 30 rating. Water resistant.
- All ingredients are 100% organic and derived naturally. Not tested on animals.
- Free of harsh chemicals and parabens. Does not contain any artificial colors or fragrances.
- Naturally fragrant vegetable oils moisturize the skin after application, while added vitamins nourish the skin.
- Compact with an ultra lightweight of just 1.1oz (31gm) and easy to carry in diaper bags and stroller sleeves.
19. Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen
- 100% certified organic ingredients sourced from naturally-grown, non-GMO plants. Not tested on animals.
- Vegetable-based glycerin and wax soften the baby’s skin and also protect against sunlight.
- Free from added fragrances and harsh chemicals like parabens and sulfates. Certified vegan sunscreen.
- SPF 32 rating with broad-spectrum protection. Added natural vitamins nourish the skin.
- Recyclable and eco-friendly packaging.
Sunscreens are the best way to protect the baby’s delicate skin against the harmful effects of UV rays. Using the products correctly is imperative to ensure optimum protection.
Tips On Using Sunscreen For Babies
Here are some points to keep in mind while using sunscreen for babies:
- Clean the baby’s skin before application. Sunscreen is best used after a bath, when the baby’s skin is clean. Dry the skin and apply the sunscreen spreading it evenly across the pores.
- Do not forget the head. Babies do not have much protection on their scalp since they have scarce hair. If you are going outdoors and do not have a cap or hat handy, then apply the sunscreen on your baby’s scalp as well.
- Use sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure. Apply the sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you step out in the sun. It gives adequate time for the compounds to get into action before exposure to the UV rays. The time lapsed after application varies as per sunscreen, thus refer to the label for the exact time.
- Check for allergies. Whether you are using an organic baby sunscreen or a conventional one, always check for skin allergies by first applying the sunscreen on a small part of the baby’s body. If you suspect an allergy, stop using it.
- Apply water-resistant sunscreen when around water. A regular sunscreen may wash out when it comes in contact with water. Therefore, use water-resistant sunscreen when taking your baby to the pool or beach.
- Reapply after two hours: As the effect of sunscreen may wear out soon, reapply it after a couple of hours. Also, check the label for the manufacturer’s recommendation on re-application.
- Do not expose the sunscreen to sunlight. Exposing the sunscreen bottle to direct sunlight can break down the ingredients and make them ineffective. Keep the sunscreen container/tube in a pouch or bag after use. Also, never use baby sunscreens beyond the expiry date.