20 Best Baby Sunscreens to Protect Young Sensitive Skin
July 6, 2021
Babies are delicate little creatures, which is why they need their own special kind of sun protection when they play outside. That’s where baby sunscreen comes in.
So what makes baby sunscreen special? “We tend to use sunscreen that contains mineral blockers for babies, while adults use mineral blockers alongside chemical blockers as well,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. “Many parents are concerned with the use of titanium dioxide in sunscreens for kids, so many of the latest baby sunscreens are zinc-only. Because zinc is an element found naturally in our bodies, it’s safe to use on delicate baby skin.”
Which leads us to a frequently asked question: If baby sunblock is so good, can adults use it too? The answer: 100 percent yes. “In fact, I commonly recommend baby sunscreen for adults who have very sensitive skin,” Zeichner tells The Bump. “Zinc oxide is not irritating; it’s used to help calm inflamed skin.”
That said, not all baby sunblock is made equally. There’s sunscreen for babies with eczema and sensitive skin, natural sunscreen and, of course, waterproof options too. And for every category of baby sunscreen, there are plenty of products to choose from—which is why we’ve rounded up the best of the best in sunscreen for babies and kids. Consider your child’s needs, and pick a sunblock that works for your little sunshine—‘cause they’re going to need it before they meet the actual sunshine!
In this article:
When can babies wear sunscreen?
How to apply baby sunscreen
Best natural sunscreen for babies
Best sunscreen for babies with sensitive skin
Best sunscreen for babies with eczema
Best waterproof sunscreen for kids
Even if you have the best baby sunscreen at the ready, most dermatologists, including Zeichner, don’t recommend using sunscreen on newborns. Instead, they should be protected from the sun with umbrellas, breathable blankets and canopies. Only once a baby is 6 months old, should you start applying sunblock—and look for sunscreen specially formulated for babies.
As it turns out, the rules for sunscreen application are more or less the same for babies, kids and adults. Of course, since babies are smaller, they don’t need quite as much sunscreen. Here are a few more tips and tricks to keep in mind when considering how to put sunscreen on a baby, courtesy of Zeichner:
- DO apply a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen to baby’s head. If they don’t have hair yet, make sure to cover the scalp with sunscreen.
- DO make sure babies cover up—and accessorize! When in the sun, little ones should wear long-sleeved clothing, hats and even eye protection. (Yes, baby sunglasses! Those little eyes are sensitive.)
- DO reapply sunscreen every two hours or as soon as baby gets out of the water.
- DON’T chase babies and kids when applying sunscreen, especially when it comes to sunscreen sprays. In order for those sprays to be effective, they must be sprayed 1 inch from the skin. Spray until the skin glistens.
- DON’T be afraid to use sunscreen sticks; just make sure to apply them correctly. You should apply a sunscreen stick back and forth to make sure there’s an adequate amount of sunscreen on the skin. Afterward, you still have to rub the sunscreen in fully.
We don’t want our babies coming into contact with potentially harmful chemicals, so most of the best baby sunscreen options are crafted from natural ingredients. Still, while many may say “natural” on the label, some are definitely more natural than others. That’s why we turned to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which tests just how safe (and effective) various products claim to be. All of the natural baby sunscreens in this category earned a 1 rating on the organization’s site—the best the EWG has to offer.
Thinkbaby sunscreen stick SPF 30
First up on our list of the best baby sunscreen products? The top-rated sunscreen stick by Thinkbaby. Pegged as the “standard for safe sunscreen,” this product has the highest level of UVA and UVB sun protection available. The non-greasy formula is easy to apply and is quickly absorbed into the skin (a major bonus point when you’re trying to get even coverage on a wriggling baby). Better yet, it’s free from harmful chemicals and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Buy it: $9, GoThink.com
Badger Baby sunscreen cream with clear zinc oxide SPF 40
On the hunt for a good organic baby sunscreen? Not only is this baby sunblock 100 percent natural, it’s also 98 percent organic—score! Instead of chemical agents, Badger’s new and improved formula relies on sunflower oil, beeswax, chamomile, calendula, seabuckthorn and vitamin E to protect as well as moisturize and soothe baby’s skin. Plus, this sunscreen is biodegradable and reef safe, meaning you can protect your family without harming the environment. One possible downside? This sunscreen is water and sweat resistant for just 40 minutes, which means you’ll need to reapply it more frequently than other options on our list.
Buy it: $16, Amazon.com
Erbaviva organic baby sunscreen SPF 30
Not only did this baby sunblock earn a top rating from the EWG, but, like many others on this list, it was also hand-picked as one of the 20 top-scoring baby sunscreen brands among all EWG-approved options. It’s naturally crafted with zinc oxide, aloe, sunflower, olive and jojoba oils, and infused with organic essential oils of chamomile and lavender. Parents love that it’s a light sunblock that doesn’t leave white residue on the skin—plus, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Buy it: $23, TheTot.com
Earth Mama baby face mineral sunscreen stick & lotion set SPF 40
All of Earth Mama’s products received the highest rating from the EWG, so why not double up with this baby sunblock set? It comes with a mineral lotion and a face stick, packed full of safe, organic ingredients that either moisturize sensitive skin or contribute to the overall SPF value—nothing more, nothing less. The broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect baby from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays, and it’s water resistant for up to 40 minutes.
Buy it: $24, Amazon.com
Waxhead baby zinc oxide vitamin E + D enriched sunscreen SPF 35
Yet another sunblock on the EWG’s list of best baby sunscreen options, this product from Waxhead contains just six mineral ingredients, and they’re all certified organic, biodegradable and reef-safe. Made for sensitive skin, it’s free of fragrance and petrochemicals, and enriched with non-GMO vitamins E and D. Better yet, this product has rave reviews on Amazon with one customer saying: “I love this sunscreen! I love that it has few ingredients and they are very natural. It is thick but spreadable and is wonderfully waterproof. My fair skinned toddler can swim for hours and not get the slightest bit pink.”
Buy it: $26, Amazon.com
Two Peas Organics mineral baby & family sunscreen SPF 50
This certified organic option is another standout among the best natural sunscreen options for babies. With an SPF of 50, it’s formula relies on 25 percent zinc oxide to prevent painful burns. It’s powerful enough to protect adults and kids, but gentle on baby’s delicate skin. Bonus: The fragrance-free formula is reef safe.
Buy it: $17, Amazon.com
Attitude baby & kids moisturizer mineral sunscreen SPF 30
Next up is a PETA-certified, vegan and cruelty-free baby sunblock that earned a top rating from the EWG. The mineral sunscreen contains non-nano zinc oxide, which forms a protective barrier against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Plus, the hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested formula naturally smells like vanilla blossom—divine!
Buy it: $25, AttitudeLiving.com
Made of baby sunscreen organic SPF 30
This sunscreen for babies is free of any synthetic or chemical ingredients, and is gluten-free, cruelty-free and fragrance-free to boot. Non-nano zinc oxide and organic oils combine to offer water-resistant sun protection.
Buy it: $15, Amazon.com
Babies have delicate skin across the board, but if your little one needs something extra gentle, we’ve found three options designed to protect your little one from the sun without irritating their soft, vulnerable skin.
California Baby super sensitive sunscreen stick SPF 30
This baby sunblock is free from added fragrances, making it a great choice for kids with sensitive skin. Plus, it has a number 1 rating from the EWG and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. “We’re always at the beach, so having a quick and easy product to apply like this is perfect for us. It does apply thick, which I like. My son is fair, also has sensitive skin and this product did exactly what it’s supposed to,” one mom raved.
Buy it: $19, CaliforniaBaby.com
Blue Lizard Australian sunscreen lotion baby SPF 30
Highly rated by the EWG, this reef-friendly mineral sunscreen is dermatologist-recommended and is free of fragrances and parabens. Better yet, the formula offers 80 minutes of water resistance, and is super-gentle on sensitive skin. Bonus: This brand uses smart-packaging, meaning the bottle will change color in UV light as a gentle reminder to reapply.
Buy it: $15, Walmart.com
Earth Mama Kids uber-sensitive mineral sunscreen lotion SPF 40
To ensure this kids’ sunscreen is safe for even the rashiest of skin, Earth Mama added calming organic colloidal oatmeal and shea butter to the non-nano zinc formula, making it one of the best sunscreens for babies with sensitive skin. It’s gentle and non-irritating, and safe for the reef too. It’s also water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.
Buy it: $15, Amazon.com
If your child has been diagnosed with eczema, don’t fret. After rigorous testing, three sunblocks have earned the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, marking them as the best sunscreen options for babies with eczema. Rest assured, these products are designed to protect baby’s skin without irritating it.
Aveeno Baby sensitive skin SPF 50 mineral sunscreen stick
For on-the-go protection, look no further than the Aveeno baby sunscreen stick. This mineral baby sunblock is non-greasy, fragrance-free and designed to be as gentle as water. Specially formulated for delicate skin, it contains soothing oat and naturally-sourced zinc that acts as a natural barrier to UVA and UVB rays. Plus, it comes in a TSA-friendly travel size, so you can pop it in your diaper bag whether you’re heading to the park or a beach vacation. It’s even water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Buy it: $9, Walmart.com
Neutrogena pure & free baby mineral sunscreen SPF 50
The next best sunscreen for babies with eczema is Neutrogena’s Pure & Free sunscreen. Naturally sourced mineral ingredients shield baby from UVA and UVB rays without leaving a heavy, greasy residue. It’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Buy it: $11, Walmart.com
And, finally, check out our picks for the best waterproof sunscreen for babies. All of the options included here are resistant to water play for at least 80 minutes. (The average is 40, so these offer double the fun in the sun!)
Thinkbaby safe sunscreen SPF 50
Tapped as one of the best sunscreens for kids (and babies) by the EWG, this sunblock is said to have earned more awards than any other sun-care line. Dermatologist-recommended and free of chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, parabens, phthalates and more, it offers water-resistant coverage that’s powerful but gentle on baby’s sensitive skin.
Buy it: $20, buybuyBABY.com
TruBaby water & play mineral sunscreen lotion SPF 30
Among the safest sunscreens for babies according to the EWG, this highly water-resistant sunblock uses aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil and other natural ingredients to protect and soothe baby’s sensitive skin. It’s unscented and free of phthalates and parabens, and even biodegradable with 100 percent recyclable packing.
Buy it: $17 Amazon.com
Babyganics 50+ SPF pure mineral sunscreen stick
Here’s a non-allergenic, dermatologist-tested baby sunblock to consider. It’s made without phthalates, parabens and fragrances, plus it’s formulated with only plant-derived and certified organic ingredients. To nourish baby’s delicate skin, it uses a special blend of tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin and raspberry seed oils.
Buy it: $8, buybuyBABY.com
Supergoop! sunnyscreen 100% mineral lotion SPF 50
Supergoop! made their baby sunscreen fragrance-free, silicone-free, hypoallergenic and easy to apply—because slathering squirmy little ones in sunblock is no easy task. Thanks to the brand’s efforts, this product was listed as one of the safest sunscreens for babies earning a good rating from the EWG. And, yes, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Buy it: $26, Supergoop.com
Babo Botanicals baby skin mineral sunscreen SPF 50
Here’s another great choice among the safest sunscreens for babies and toddlers. The active ingredient is 100 percent non-nano zinc oxide and doesn’t contain any gluten, soy, dairy, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, talc or dyes. It’s super-gentle, reef-safe and water-resistant for 80 minutes. Still not convinced? This sunblock is a bestseller on Amazon with tons of 5-star reviews.
Buy it: $17, Amazon.com
Banana Boat kids sport broad spectrum sunscreen stick SPF 50
While not a mineral sunscreen, it’s made without oxybenzone and octinoxate, earning it a number 2 rating on the EWG’s list of safest sunscreens for babies. It provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Plus, the sunscreen stick format makes it ideal for sensitive areas like little ones’ faces and ears.
Buy it: $6, Amazon.com
Baby Bum SPF 50 sunscreen lotion
Last up on our list of the best baby sunscreens, this pediatrician and dermatologist tested sunblock is made with zinc oxide and a blend of plant-based ingredients. It offers broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, up to 80 minutes of water resistance and outstanding protection for delicate skin.
Buy it: $14, Amazon.com