Guide to Safe Sunscreen for Children

Summer is in full swing. Since the kids are out of school and the temperature is climbing, and many of us are probably utilizing that vacation time you’ve been saving up all year.  A common question many patients are asking this time of year refers to sunscreen protection. Rather than take this article in a totally different direction, you can begin with nuts and bolts of sun overexposure was covered in the article Are your sunscreens really protecting you?


Once we establish those parameters, the next question is something along the lines of:

“What brand of sunscreen should I buy?”


“Wait, is there a sunblock I should stay far away from?”

Due to the many choices, there are no short or easy answers to these questions. Therefore,  I have put this guide together to help steer your in the right direction.

Since it would be silly to research all of this on my own, I have enlisted some help from the fine folks at the EWG. The EWG is recommending products that provide long lasting, broad spectrum protection, in addition to ingredients that pose fewer health concerns.  Most notably, the EWG’s sunscreen database rates the safety and efficacy of sunscreens, as well as other products containing SPF.

Look for Safer Sunscreen and Sunblock ingredients

So Just What are the Best and the Worst Brands of Sunscreen for Children?

When it comes to kiddos, there are a lot of sun lotions on the market.  While parents can choose from a variety of good products offering protection, there are also other products you should avoid.

The Best Scoring Sunscreens for kids:

Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 30
All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 50
Babytime! by Episencial Sunny Sun screen, SPF 35
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
Bare Republic Baby Mineral Sun screen Lotion, SPF 50
Blue Lizard Australian Sun screen Baby, SPF 30+
BurnOut KIDS Sun screen, SPF 35
California Baby Super Sensitive Suns creen, SPF 30+
Caribbean Sol Sol Kid Kare, SPF 30
Goddess Garden Organics Baby Natural Sun screen Lotion, SPF 30
Kiss My Face Organics Kids Sun screen, SPF 30
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sun screen, SPF 50
Sunology Natural Sun screen Kids, SPF 50
Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sun screen, SPF 40
ThinkSport Kids Sun screen, SPF 50+
Tom’s of Maine Baby Sun screen Lotion, SPF 30
TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sun screen, SPF 30

In comparison, there are several toxic choices that ought to be avoided rather than applied. Despite the popular logo, many of the Coppertone line of kids lotions are best kept on the store shelves.  

 Worst Scoring Sun Lotions for Kids:

Banana Boat (2)

Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

Coppertone (7)

Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70
Sun screen Continuous Spray Kids, SPF 70
Sun screen Lotion Kids, SPF 70
Sun screen Lotion Water Babies, SPF 70+
Sun screen Stick Kids, SPF 55
Sun screen Stick Water Babies, SPF 55
Sun screen Water Babies Foaming Lotion, SPF 70

Neutrogena (2)

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sun screen, SPF 60+
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sun screen Spray, SPF 70+

Up & Up Kids Sun screen Sticks, SPF 55

CVS Health Children’s Sunstick Sun screen, SPF 55
Equate Baby Sun screen Lotion, SPF 70 

For further resources, a full guide can be found on the EWG sun protection website

Remember: Sunscreen should be your last resort. Clothing such as shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays, reducing burn risk by 27%. Also, by keeping infants in the shade, you are reducing the risk of multiple burns by 30%. Furthermore, finding shade under a tree or taking a canopy to the beach are ideal. Also, red, sore, blistered skin means you’ve gotten far too much sun. In addition to covering up, be sure to hydrate with LOTS of water!

In conclusion, whatever we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream. Therefore, we ought to make the right choices for our families when purchasing these SPF products.

-Dr. Tim Smith