5 Kids Sunscreens We Love (and 3 We Don't)


Flickr photo by qmnonic
The return of nice weather to the Northeast means slathering sunscreen on my kid and sending her outdoors. No wonder May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

So guess how I spent "Melanoma Monday!"?

Indoors ... slathering different sunscreens on my kid to see how they ranked for YOU readers.

You'll thank me later.

A few things before I dive in. My rankings are based purely on experience, although where applicable, I also drew on the experts ratings of these particular products.

What I wanted was a mom's feel -- what's too darn greasy, what's never going to soak in, what's easy peasy lemon squeezy and smells good to boot?

Also, it bears noting that a few of these sunscreens I paid for with cold hard cash, and a few were sent to me in the form of testers from the companies -- I can promise I hated some of the freebies just as much as the stuff I spent money on, but I had to put that out there.

Okay. Let's dive in!

1. Little Twig Mineral Sunscreen -- 30+ SPF, this organic sunscreen is PABA- and paraben-free, water resistant, and made from all organic ingredients. It's also nut, soy, and wheat-free for kids with allergies! It rubs in quickly and easily, and though it's not exactly "unscented" as described, the scent isn't unpleasant. I do wish it specified what rays it blocks out on the bottle, which only states "broad spectrum protection." That's clarified on the company website, which explains it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

2. Bella B Sunny Bee -- 40+ SPF, paraben-free with both UVA and UVB protectants, it's got a pleasant lack of scent, but while this purports to "rub in easy," my daughter looked like a ghost hours after the first application.

3. Badger Lightly Scented Sunscreen -- SPF 30, this gets high ratings from the Environmental Working Group, meaning it's pretty safe for kids and the environment. It comes out of the bottle thick, but rubs in easily and has a nice light, fruity scent. Water-resistant, it protects against UVA and UVB rays and is full of organic ingredients. Also loved the unscented version.

4. Earth's Best Organic Sunblock Creme -- Made by JASON Naturals (see below), this has a lower price point and is a little thicker and harder to rub in. That said, it doesn't leave your kids looking like ghosts, has an average "sunscreen" scent that isn't bad, is fragrance- and paraben-free, offers 30+ SPF, and is made of 70% organic ingredients.

5. JASON Naturals Sunbrellas -- Another brand that gets high praise from the Environmental Working Group, this SPF 45 sunscreen has a yummy coconut scent and resists UVA and UVB rays in addition to being water resistant. It rubs in easily without leaving your hands coated in grease.

6. Glory for Girls All the Time Sunscreen -- SPF 30, PABA- and paraben-free, this full-spectrum (UVA/UVB rays) sunscreen is made more for tween girls than toddlers, but it'll work on anyone. The lotion comes out of the bottle a light brown, making it blend more easily on the skin. The scent is so-so, not chemical-y, but not exactly something I'd want to taste either (which could be a good thing with little kids).

7. Coppertone Water Babies -- This used to be my old standby, until I saw how low it ranked on the Environmental Working Group ratings. Still, I'll say the Quick Cover Lotion Spray can be a godsend when the kids won't stay still to be rubbed down with sunscreen. You can chase them and spray them ... and at least they get SOMETHING on them.

8. Aveeno Baby -- The Environmental Working Group gives it a "moderate hazard rating," which was enough for me not to open this ... and go find the receipt. So I can't tell you how well it worked! Although it's SPF 55, waterproof, and fragrance-free, and provides UVA and UVB protection.

What do you look for in a sunscreen?

health, safety


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Ems629 Ems629

Well, my DD is 21/2 and approximately the shade of a napkin, LOL, so I look for SPF 30, non-greasy, low/no fragrance, and inexpensive. Mainly because we use so much of it.

The stuff that I found to be revolting was Burt's Bee's chemical-free sunscreen It smells horrid, and is bright orange! WTH?

The stuff I like best is Blue Lizard's Baby Lizard.

APeve... APeveteaux

Thank you Jeanne Sager!

(I'm thanking you now, rather than later -- great info!)

Lisaa... LisaatEWG

Thanks, Jeanne, for spreading the word about EWG's sunscreen research and database.  Our 2010 version will be available by Memorial Day.  In the meantime, our 2009 guide is here: http://www.ewg.org/whichsunscreensarebest/2009report. Our FAQs answer a lot of questins parents have when selecting the best sunscreen for their kids - it's here: http://www.ewg.org/cosmetics/report/sunscreen09/investigation/sunscreenfaqs.  Hope this is helpful.  I'm just glad summer is close enough that we're talking about sunscreen at all! Cheers, Lisa

Katie Weber

The Jason Natural's has a health concern of "high" for the kids one. It does not get high praise at all.

Ameri... AmericanChild82

I use water babies and not the spray on kind. It smells yummy and a little goes a long way. I even use it on myself.

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