Home Health 11 Best Sunscreens for Kids and Babies 2022

11 Best Sunscreens for Kids and Babies 2022


best sunscreens for kidsbabies


We updated this guide in April 2022 to add new picks from ThinkBaby and Babo Botanicals based on extensive testing and evaluations out of the Good Housekeeping Institute. Our best sunscreen for babies, Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby SPF50, remains the same, as does our best pick for kids from ThinkSport.

Finding the best sunscreen for kids and babies can be tricky, as every child may have different reactions to certain ingredients, consistencies or application methods. Our skincare experts have already established optimal sunscreens for sensitive skin as well as products made with entirely natural formulas. But you may be wondering if these same picks are engineered with children in mind, especially if you’ve been worried about recent headlines around sunscreen safety.

Officials within the Food and Drug Administration recently made some updates to guidelines for sunscreen manufacturers with top safety issues front and center. Because there is still room for future regulation and further restriction on active ingredients that may enter the bloodstream, “we recommend that parents use sunscreens with mineral actives such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide on their kids,” explains Birnur Aral, Ph.D., executive director of the Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab.

Experts and analysts within the GH Institute conduct thorough tests on all types of sunscreens for adults, including those made with natural and mineral formulas, zinc oxide SPF, sunscreens for the face as well as more recommendations for body application. While our experts didn’t explicitly test sunscreens on kids or babies in large-scale consumer studies, they used established criteria and expertise when evaluating the products below, as well as consulting with real parents and dermatologists to curate a list of the best sunscreens for little ones. Verified public reviews from customers were also taken into account when creating our in-depth best kids and babies’ sunscreen ranking.

Our top picks:

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Best Overall Sunscreen for Babies

Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Neutrogena is a household name for sun protection for a reason: This formula is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and it comes recommended by pediatricians, dermatologists, and the National Eczema Association. “I have very sensitive skin and Neutrogena is one of the only brands I don’t have a reaction to, so I use the baby version for my kids,” says Lexie Sachs, executive director of the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Neutrogena even has a zinc oxide sunscreen for adults that performed well in our face-specific sunscreen test.

Best Budget Sunscreen for Babies

Pure & Simple Baby Sunscreen SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

This hypoallergenic sunscreen from Coppertone is the brand’s most gentle option. It’s formulated with soothing ingredients and zinc oxide and made without fragrance, so it won’t irritate your baby’s delicate skin. One reviewer says that they even got a bit of sunscreen in their eye and didn’t experience any burning sensation.

Best Stick Sunscreen for Babies

Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide solid stick
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Sun Bum’s traditional sunscreen for adults is one of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, so this version for babies is another great pick. Stick sunscreens are especially good for kids’ or babies’ noses, says Sabina Wizemann, senior chemist at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab, since they can reach small spots (think scalp and ears, too). They’re also ideal for easily throwing in your beach bag or diaper bag, but Baby Bum also comes in lotion and spray form.

Best Overall Sunscreen for Kids

Kids SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide cream
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

This Thinksport formula is one of the most popular sunscreens for kids and babies, and it even has an average 4.5-star rating across over 2,000 Amazon reviews. At less than $15, it’s an affordable sunscreen considering mineral sunscreens are often pricier than chemical formulas.

One reviewer says it’s her favorite sunscreen to use on her son because it “goes on like moisturizer, doesn’t leave a white cast, and smells faintly like coconut (delicious!).” The brand also makes a version for babies, and both are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Best Natural Sunscreen for Kids

Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Chemical and mineral zinc oxide and titanium dioxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

A favorite of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Executive Technical Director (and mother of three!) Rachel Rothman, this Babyganics sunscreen is very transparent about what’s inside — the labels are easy to read and they clearly state which active ingredients are used. Its plant-derived ingredients include a unique blend of tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin, and raspberry seed oils.

Best Natural Sunscreen for Babies

Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF50

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide lotion
  • Water resistance: 80 minutes

Our lab analysts have noted Babo Botancials’ offerings in previous tests for our best sunscreen rankings, particularly for its budget-friendly price while incorporating numerous high-quality ingredients. The organic shea butter and coconut oil base of this lotion is formulated with FDA-approved active zinc oxide and dries supremely (especially for little ones who like to splash and play in water!). Both current reviewers and feedback established in related GH lab tests indicated that Babo Botanicals’ thick, luxe lotion doesn’t easily rub off on fabrics but is easy to rinse off when necessary.

Best Waterproof Sunscreen for Babies

SPF 50+ Baby Sunscreen

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 80 Minutes

If your little one enjoys being in the water with you on a lazy sunny day, this easy-lather lotion by Thinkbaby makes use of zinc oxide to keep them safe in the water for over an hour. A winner within our 2021 Parenting Awards, parents who provided us real-world product feedback indicated that the soothing lotion lacked any strong scent or other irritations for prolonged use on babies. Wizemann and other chemists within our GH Institute labs also appreciated the short list of inactive ingredients on this special formula.

Best Sunscreen for Babies and Kids with Eczema

Baby & Child Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

From a brand known for skincare products tailored to sensitive skin and eczema, this Mustela mineral SPF with pure zinc is approved by the National Eczema Association. Many Amazon reviewers commented that the fragrance-free lotion doesn’t cause any irritation. “My 12-month-old struggles with bouts of eczema on her face…this sunscreen did not bother her at all,” one reported.

Best Face Sunscreen for Babies

Baby Continuous Protection Sunscreen SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Mineral zinc oxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Aveeno’s baby SPF formula is a popular pick among many parents. The zinc oxide based lotion is a great mineral option, and the brand claims their own clinical test found the lotion is as mild as water for babies’ skin. Multiple reviewers state that it doesn’t bother their eyes, so it’s a safe option for the face, too.

Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreen for Babies

Australian Sunscreen SPF 30

  • SPF 30
  • Mineral zinc oxide and titanium dioxide lotion
  • Water Resistance: 40 minutes

Parents love the protection this Blue Lizard sunscreen offers and the reminder to apply: The bottle turns pink when it’s in the presence of UV rays to remind you when it’s time to reapply. It shields your kid’s skin from the sun by using a combination of mineral zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. “I loved that it didn’t give me that burning sensation I have always gotten from sunscreens,” writes one Amazon reviewer.

Best Budget Stick Sunscreen for Kids

Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick

  • SPF 50
  • Active zinc oxide formula
  • Water Resistance: 80 Minutes

This stick-form alternative to the face-friendly formula we highlighted above is heralded as a travel hero by many of its 1,900+ reviewers. Just like its lotion-based counterpart, this stick sunscreen is designed to be gentle and easily glide on to at-risk areas of the face, arms and legs. Reviewers swear that sweat or moisture trickles into the eyes aren’t irritating or stinging,

How we chose the best sunscreens for kids and babies:

The Good Housekeeping Institute regularly tests and evaluates products’ effectiveness, including over-the-counter body and face sunscreen formulas available on the market. Many of the selections in this guide were solidified using screening criteria generated by GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D., as well as chemists Sabina Wizemann and Danusia Wnek. Editors and analysts ensured each product featured in this guide followed established criteria for ingredients used and verified marketing claims.

A few of our best sunscreens for kids and babies were also named winners in other guides, including our Parenting Awards. Other picks were selected from a pool of best-selling products with verified reviews that also met predetermined criteria set forth by our beauty experts, including input from independent dermatologists.

What SPF should I use on my child?

It may depend on their age and skin condition, but a minimum SPF recommendation for children of SPF 30+ has been made by experts at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Regardless of skin tone, babies younger than 6 months old should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Sunscreen is meant to be just one aspect of defense when it comes to maintaining healthy skin; babies especially should be covered in lightweight clothes that fully cover arms and legs, armed with a brimmed hat if possible.

It’s true that dark skin has more melanin naturally (and may benefit from a specialized sunscreen), often resulting in a tan rather than a sunburn. But sunscreen remains a crucial defense for all young children and babies playing in the sun for extended periods of time.

How to shop the best sunscreens for kids and babies:

✔️ Opt for mineral sunscreens, advises Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Most experts agree that mineral actives are better for sensitive skin types in general. Plus, the FDA announced last year that only two ingredients — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are considered safe and effective for sunscreen use. It’s also important to note that there are still 12 sunscreen ingredients that require more data before the FDA can call them safe and effective.

✔️ Choose lotions over sprays. When choosing the type of formulation, since applying spray sunscreen is difficult enough on adults, you’re better off with lotion and stick formulas for kids and babies. Plus, “spray sunscreens don’t tend to protect as well as lotions,” Dr. Engelman says.

The right way to apply sunscreen on kids and babies:

The general rule of thumb for babies younger than 6 months is to try to avoid the sun as much as possible and to consult a doctor before using sunscreen on them. For kids, you’ll want to have it on their skin at least 20 minutes before going outside. “Apply a lot more than you think,” advises Dr. Engelman. As in, use a golf-ball-size amount for their body and enough to fill a shot glass for the face (just over 1oz). Reapplying often and after swimming or sweating: “If you’re applying the correct amount every two hours, then a 6-ounce bottle may only last the first couple days of your beach vacation,” adds Dr. Engelman.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

In his role as Health Editor, Zee Krstic works hand in hand with analysts in the Good Housekeeping Institute to highlight consumer-facing input from leading health experts; he interweaves doctors’ and healthcare providers’ expertise into shopping guides to better educate readers. He also independently reviews new products in the wellness space for Good Housekeeping, which he has done previously for Martha Stewart Living and Cooking Light.

For this story, Zee worked closely with Birnur Aral, Ph.D. In addition to her 15 years of leading clinical and consumer testing in the GH Institute Beauty Lab, she has R&D experience through her seven-year stint at Unilever U.S. She has contributed and overseen content in countless beauty categories ranging from anti-aging products to sunscreen safety. She also has written explainers that tease out the science behind beauty products and debunk misconceptions. In addition to earning M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, she recently added a professional certificate in sustainability management from Columbia University to her credentials.

Zee also interviewed Dendy Engleman, M.D., who maintains a private practice in New York City, having completed her dermatology residency at the Medical University of South Carolina after earning her degree. Dr. Engleman was recently appointed Director of Dermatologic Surgery at New York Medical College and is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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