Sunscreen should be both good for your kids’ skin and the environment. We’ve created a short list of rules to find safe and natural sunscreen for kids and babies.
We spend as many of the daylight hours outside as possible, most often at the beach where it’s bright and sunny. Both Aaron and I probably got our fair share of sun damage as kids, so we’re trying to get a step ahead and help our son develop the habit of wearing sunscreen while he’s still young. We make sure he’s getting healthy doses of vitamin D, but we want to protect him from harmful UVA and UVB rays that cause skin damage and potentially develop into cancer.
The more we’ve learned about traditional chemical sunscreens, we’ve realized that they not only damage the environment but aren’t really safe for your skin. Kids and babies are especially vulnerable, so we’ve found a few sunscreens that are both effective and gentle. We’ve come up with a few rules to find the best safe and natural sunscreen for kids and babies.
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Rules for Buying Natural Sunscreen Safe for Babies and Kids
1 Start with the rules for reef-safe sunscreen
The realization that sunscreens with chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate are killing coral reefs is what kickstarted our search to find a better sunscreen solution.
If the chemicals in traditional sunscreen can kill a living organism and destroy an entire ecosystem, they aren’t something I want to be putting on my child’s skin, whether he’s near the water or not. And when we looked into it more, we found that there were studies the showed that oxybenzone was linked to endocrine disruption (the glands in your body that make hormones), DNA mutation, and even cancer.
Reef-safe sunscreens don’t use chemical blockers, they use physical ones, mainly zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. We’ve created a whole guide on how to find a reef-safe sunscreen (since the labeling is usually extremely misleading), so you can first check out that guide here.We’ve completely ditched all the chemical sunscreens for ones with minerals that are not only much safer for the oceans, but they’re also much safer for you (and your kids) too.
We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite brands, like Raw Elements and All Good in our Reef-Safe Sunscreen post. These sunscreens are perfectly safe for kids, so you can consider one of the options in our reef-safe sunscreen post as well. We’ve just added a few rules when we’re trying to find the best natural sunscreen for babies and kids to make sure it’s ultra safe.
2 Only one active ingredient: Non-nano zinc oxide
So in our reef-safe rules, we looked for only two active ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide (but only in conjunction with zinc). For kids and babies, we’re being a little stricter and recommend that sunscreens only contain non-nano zinc oxide. Zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum protection, meaning it effectively blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It’s been tested and determined to be safe for use on infants; it’s actually the active ingredient in most diaper rash creams.
3 Don’t trust the labels
I stopped trusting the labels on most things that I buy, especially anything that’s marketed to kids and babies. A lot of the sunscreens marketed specifically to kids contain the chemical oxybenzone, plus a whole slew of others.
4 Avoid sprays for younger kids
Mineral sunscreen is safe for your skin, but small particles can damage the lungs if inhaled. If a child isn’t able to keep their mouth closed for a few seconds while the spray is being applied, it’s best to avoid them.
Safest Mineral Sunscreens for Babies and Kids
Price: ~$14 for 2.9 fl oz on Amazon
Badger is a small family-run business that started with making balms and lotions out of organic plant extracts, exotic oils, beeswax, and minerals to create natural and safe products to protect and treat the body. They use these same natural ingredients in their sunscreens, with most creams only including five or six ingredients. The Badger Kids Sunscreen SPF 30 has the most divine tangerine and vanilla scent; it smells like those orange creamsicle popsicles I used to eat as a kid.
The Badger Kids Sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, plus only 7 other inactive ingredients (sunflower seed oil, beeswax, orange and tangerine peel oil, sunflower Vitamin E, seabuckthorn extract, and vanilla extract), most of which is organic.
The Badger sunscreens all have a similar consistency. I like their thicker white lotions because it isn’t greasy and doesn’t run; it stays put so it’s easy to rub in. While it starts out white, it rubs in clear. The sunscreens come in 2.9 fl. oz. tubes, so they’re just the right size for traveling. The Badger Kids Sunscreen is water-resistant for 40 minutes.
Price: ~$13 for 2.9 fl oz on Amazon
The Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30 also uses non-nano zinc oxide and is pediatrician tested. It also includes chamomile and calendula for calming and soothing effects. The Badger Baby sunscreen is water-resistant for 40 minutes.
Price: ~$32 for 7 fl oz on Amazon
Butterbean Organics was founded by a mother in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida who started making sunscreen for her five children when she had the same realization we did–that traditional sunscreens are packed full with harmful chemicals. The company aims to make products that are good for people on the planet, so they use only premium natural ingredients and make sure their sunscreens are biodegradable and reef-safe.
The Original Healthy Sunscreen SPF 30 comes in a metal tub, but it’s a thinner, runnier consistency than most mineral sunscreens we’ve used that come in either tubs or tubes. That said, it’s still thick enough that it doesn’t become a mess. It’s easy to rub in gently, which is important when you’re using it on that soft baby skin. This sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, plus a base of coconut oil and shea butter which makes it super moisturizing. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes. Butterbean Organics also makes a sunscreen stick with a similar formula.
Price: ~$8 for 3 fl oz on Amazon
Thinkbaby sunscreen was developed by the physicians and scientists at Thinksport, a company that focuses on chemical and biological science to find safer materials for consumer products. Thinkbaby uses non-nano zinc oxide for SPF 50+ protection. Though the ingredient list is longer than most of the other sunscreens on this list, they’re safe and free from parabens and phthalates. This cream is thick, but rubs in clear and has a nice citrus scent. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Price: ~$23 for 4.3 oz on Amazon
The Adorable Baby sunscreen was created by the company Loving Naturals, a mom and dad team that wanted to create an ultra safe and natural product they could use on their own babies skin. Adorable Baby uses non-nano zinc oxide and has a short inactive ingredient list including beeswax, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil. This sunscreen is water-resistant for 40 minutes. This also comes in a sunscreen stick.