Monday, July 13, 2015

The safest sunscreens for kids: what to use, what to avoid

What are the safest sunscreens for kids? For starters, it's good to know what not to use, and my friend Paola recently referred me to a 2015 list of the worst sunscreens for kids from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). After reading it, I promptly tossed a few sunscreens we had and returned some to the store.

What makes for the worst sunscreen for kids? As determined by the EWG Sunscreen Hall of Shame, they contain retinyl palmitate (a potential carcinogenic) and oxybenzone (which can mess with the hormone system).

The 11 worst sunscreens for kids:

Banana Boat Clear Ultramist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Kroger Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 70
Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kid's Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

Check out the full report, which also lists the worst spray sunscreens and the worst sunscreen lotions for adults. Some of my favorite healthy sunscreens for kids are from AlbaMustela, Badger, The Honest Company and California Baby. If your kid has sensory issues, note that mineral sunscreen lotions tend to be thicker and take longer to rub in. Check out EWG's complete list of the best beach and sport sunscreens.


  1. for my kid with sensory issues, the choice was spray sunscreen or a rip-roaring tantrum. it may not be ideal but i chose the spray.

    1. Yah, we had to use a spray on Max for a long time but he got past needing it and now we can use lotion.

    2. I chose spray too. Still have fidgety kid when I do use it, but he doesn't act like I am trying to kill him like he does if I dare put lotion or *gasp* lip balm on him. Still, it's good to have the list for me and for the boys, should at least the oldest one realize that anything in lotion form isn't the worst thing in the world.

    3. I have always hated spray sunscreen, it just feels disgusting to me.

  2. I thought they would all be sprays...

  3. I thought they'd all be cheaper.......


    1. Mineral and natural sunscreens tend to cost a lot more than the chemical-laden kind.

  4. I had to come back and read this again today. We went to the waterpark yesterday, and I've been thinking that my son is getting sunburned beneath his eyes so was extra-careful yesterday and he's redder than ever. I think it's actually a reaction to the sunscreen (he's prone to rashes anyway). I wish more of the good ones were sprays and sticks and really appreciate this list!


Thanks for sharing!

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