Best Sunscreen For Kids in 2021

by Kelley Crosbie and Bethany Braun-Silva

Best Sunscreen For Kids in 2021
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With warmer temperatures come fun-filled days of pool parties, camping trips, and playtime in the park. But it’s never too early to protect your kids’ skin from the sun’s rays. Whether your child has sensitive skin or is active in sports, we’ve rounded up this handy guide to help you select the best sunscreen for kids and babies.


A great deal of sun damage can occur before we care about our skin—some research suggests that over 50 percent of our UV exposure happens before age 20.


Sunscreen, as you know, can help protect your family from painful sunburns and long-term damage, which can eventually result in certain skin cancers. That said, we’ve all heard of someone who applied sunscreen as soon as they ventured outside but forgot to reapply and thus ended up with a blistering burn at the end of the day (ouch!). Therefore, it is important to remember sunscreen must be used and applied as directed to work correctly. And speaking of application, there is a wide array of sunscreen application types, from lotions and creams to sticks and sprays.


But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s back up a moment. Whether you’re pro-chemical or pro-mineral, there is seemingly no end to the debate as to which is better, especially when it comes to putting sunscreen on our kids’ skin. To clarify, chemical sunscreen is the more traditional sunscreen that you rub into the skin entirely. Mineral sunscreen essentially puts a physical barrier between skin and the sun’s harmful rays, but it may make you look a little “ghostly pale,” though companies have greatly improved that side effect in recent years.


As sure as the sun will rise in the morning, there is a lot to consider when it comes to sunscreen. Lucky for you, we’re here to help and get a few tips from the experts as to the best sunscreen for your kid and what you should pack in that bag that will go everywhere you go this summer.


Best Ways to Keep Kids Safe in the Sun


Let’s begin by stating that even the best sunscreen for kids is just one way to help protect your family’s skin from the sun’s harmful rays. As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “sunscreen should be used for sun protection, not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.”


To start, cover kids up with clothing made of tightly woven fabrics such as cotton to lessen the amount of exposed skin. If possible, it’s important also to remember to keep kids out of the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you are shopping for new swimming suits or even everyday summer wear, keep an eye out for kids’ clothing that is sun-protective, such as swimming shirts. We love SwimZip’s UPF 50+ swimsuits and rashguards for kids.


Notice your kid continually squinting because of the sun in their eyes? Bring on the wide-brimmed sun hats and UV protected sunglasses. Not only can they make a fashion statement, but they can also protect your child’s face, ears, and neck from harmful rays. Don’t let those puffy clouds in the sky fool you either. An overcast day can quickly become you and your kid’s worst nightmare, as most of the sun’s rays, though behind clouds, can still cause sunburn.


Be sure to apply sunscreen anytime your family is outside, whether it is sunny or not. Last, but certainly not least, always set a good example when it comes to sun safety by sporting your favorite hat, pair of sunglasses, or swimming shirt.


When it’s time to apply, use plenty of sunscreen, which experts say is approximately one ounce (or a full shot glass) per use for a young adult, and ensure it gets rubbed in well. Cover all exposed skin, and note the AAP’s protection tip of taking special care around the face, nose, feet, hands, ears, and backs of knees. For full protection, put sunscreen on 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. When around water, sand, snow, or even concrete, remember UV rays from the sun can bounce back and cause significant burning in areas you may not think of, such as under the nose.


Pro tip: If you find yourself scrambling to catch your mini-me in an attempt to apply their sunscreen before they run to the park or beach, try letting them put some sunscreen on you first!


What to Look For in Kids’ Sunscreen


The best sunscreen for kids is one that is labeled “broad-spectrum,” which means it protects children from both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) light rays that can harm their young skin. Whatever the occasion for sunscreen, always start with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. Anything with an SPF of 15 to 30 should be sufficient if applied as directed; however, going with an SPF of 50+ will provide limited additional benefits.


Water-resistance is another thing that is especially important because sunscreen can come off due to sweat and fun in the water. The American Academy of Dermatology states that water-resistant or very water-resistant sunscreen can protect for up to 40 or 80 minutes. No matter what, always remember that sunscreens are not waterproof or sweatproof and that you should reapply every two hours, or after swimming, perspiring, or towel drying.


The discussion of potentially harmful chemicals has spurred quite the conversation. As a result, some parents may choose to avoid sunscreens that contain specific ingredients, most notably oxybenzone, a chemical ingredient that may contain hormonal properties. As an alternative, some caregivers are opting for sunscreens that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which protect young skin without absorption. An easy way to recognize this type of sunscreen is to think back to those classic images of lifeguards at the pool with “white” noses covered in sunscreen. It turns out that it’s zinc oxide, and it’s a very effective sunscreen that is a great way to protect those areas that get a little extra exposure such as noses, cheeks, shoulders, and the tops of the ears. These days, zinc oxide sunscreens have amped up their coolness factor because they can now come in tinted and fun colors like the Zinka Colored Nosecoat Zinc Oxide Sunblock multipack ($17;


Best Sunscreen Application Types for Kids


There are multiple sunscreen application types from which parents can pick. Lotions and creams tend to have the deepest coverage and are ideal for dry skin and around the face. Sunscreen sticks prove to be extremely convenient for caregivers and work well for faces, as they won’t run or get into the child’s eyes.


Another application type that is popular with families is a sunscreen spray or mist, which may seem convenient but is not always recommended by professionals because it may not be applied evenly or put on at all. Not only that, but spray or mist sunscreens can also cause lung irritation and prove to be flammable if put close to an open flame. It’s also important to note that, as stated by the American Academy of Dermatology, when asked what type of sunscreen should be used, they say that “current FDA regulations on testing and standardization do not pertain to spray sunscreens. The agency continues to evaluate these products to ensure safety and effectiveness.”


Don’t forget to protect those sweet summer smiles! Toss in a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher in your summer go-to bag to prevent damage to your child’s lips where skin cancer can also form.


Whichever sunscreen application type you choose, the American Academy of Dermatology notes that the best sunscreen for kids and anyone else “is the one you will use again and again,” assuming you also pick one that is broad-spectrum, is SPF 30 or higher, and is water-resistant.


Below, check out our picks for the best sunscreen for kids.


Best Overall: Babyganics 50+ SPF Sunscreen Lotion

Best for Kids Who Swim: Thinksport Kids Safe SPF 50+ Sunscreen Lotion

Best for Kids Who Play Sports: SUPERGOOP! Glow Stick SPF 50

Best for Kids with Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen

Best for the Environment: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Best for Babies: Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50

Best Dermatologist Approved: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo Kids Sunscreen SPF

Best Parent-Approved: All Good Kids Sunscreen Lotion Water Resistant

Best Sheer Sunscreen: Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Best Sunscreen Stick: Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick

Best Mineral Sunscreen: Pipette Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

1 of 11 Image Credits: BuyBuyBaby

Best Overall

Babyganics 50+ SPF Sunscreen Lotion


We love this sunscreen because it's tear-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and contains no parabens. It also lasts up to 80 minutes and goes on easily.

2 of 11 Image Credits: BuyBuyBaby

Best for Kids Who Swim

Thinksport Kids Safe SPF 50+ Sunscreen Lotion


Sunscreens that provide water-resistant protection for up to 80 minutes, like Thinksport Kids Safe SPF 50+ Sunscreen Lotion, allow parents to take a deep breath knowing their kid is protected with the highest level of water resistance.

3 of 11 Image Credits: Sephora

Best Sunscreen for Kids Who Play Sports

SUPERGOOP! Glow Stick SPF 50


For kids’ faces on the field and parents' faces in the stands, the SUPERGOOP! Glow Stick SPF 50 is ideal. It has an SPF of 50 and tosses quickly and easily into a sports bag for when your family is on-the-go. Kids and parents alike will appreciate the tint that helps make sure there is zero white residue to give you that “ghostly pale” look.

4 of 11 Image Credits: Target

Best for Kids with Sensitive Skin

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen


The best sunscreen for kids and babies with eczema are those that have been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, such as the Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen. This broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50 has one ingredient: 100 percent naturally sourced zinc oxide. Not only is it as effective as mineral sunscreen lotion, but its nongreasy formula has been clinically shown to be as gentle as water on your baby’s skin while still being water resistant for 80 minutes.

5 of 11 Image Credits: BuyBuyBaby

Best Sunscreen for the Environment

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen


Australian's know their sun, so it makes sense that the best sunscreen would come from that continent. In addition to providing protection against the sun, this sunscreen is also reef-safe, meaning it contains no chemicals that can damage fragile coral reefs. Plus, the bottle itself will turn pink in harmful UV light as a reminder to parents that it's time to lotion up!

6 of 11 Image Credits: BuyBuyBaby

Best Sunscreen for Babies

Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50


This sunscreen is lightweight and fragrance-free and stays put for up to 80 minutes. It's made with gentle coconut oil to nourish baby's sensitive skin. It also absorbs quickly and doesn't leave an oily residue on the skin.

7 of 11 Image Credits: Dermstore

Best Dermatologist Approved

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo Kids Sunscreen SPF


This sunscreen is dermatologist and pediatrician-tested and is made with antioxidants and vitamin E to protect your child's skin. It's gentle but also works hard to protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

8 of 11 Image Credits: Target

Best Parent-Approved

All Good Kids Sunscreen Lotion Water Resistant


This sunscreen is lightweight, easy to apply, reef-friendly and affordable. Parents love that it's Environmental Working Group-approved, meaning it meets the highest standards of safety for our kids.

9 of 11 Image Credits: Target

Best Sheer Sunscreen

Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion


Kids hate looking like greasy ghosts after getting slathered in sunscreen. This sheer lotion is clean, vegan, fragrance-free, made from 100 percent zinc and is perfectly sheer.

10 of 11 Image Credits: Target

Best Sunscreen Stick

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick


This sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and is easy to put on kids, especially their faces. It can be applied to wet or dry skin and won't wash off. Plus, the broad-spectrum SPF 70 offers superior sun protection.

11 of 11 Image Credits: Pipette

Pipette Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50


This gentle but effective sunscreen uses 100% mineral, non-nano zinc oxide for the best protection for kids and babies. The formula is lightweight and nongreasy and made with plant extracts to moisturize your child's skin.