Kids’ Sunscreens: Best Picks for 2023

It’s that time of the year again. I mean, the sunny skies, the need for ice-cold beverages, and the squealing eagerness of kids getting ready for the beach. Oh, summer is here indeed! 

So you’re probably booking a trip or two to the beach. Or maybe the nearby pool. Wherever it’s safe during this time. Either way, you know your kids are frantically asking for your permission to engage in water activities. Or watersports. 

Of course, all the splashing, sparkling water usually comes with the beating rays of the sun. You’re probably aware of the dangers of constant exposure to ultraviolet rays, so you better be prepared to protect your kids’ skin!

But are there any specifics for kids’ sunscreen should you have in mind? The answer is yes. Naturally, you need to be aware of those to ensure your children enjoy the waters safely. I’ll give you the rundown of all that you need to give that extra layer of protection for your children. 

If you’re all set, then let’s start with some comparisons. 

First Things First, What’s the Difference between:

Kids’ Sunblock vs Kids’ Sunscreen?

I know I’m zeroing in on kids’ sunscreen, but I’ll be differentiating that with sunblocks to avoid confusion. Sunblocks contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These substances protect the little ones’ skin by scattering ultraviolet radiation upon contact. Through that mechanism, they physically block the sun’s rays. On the other hand, sunscreens absorb that radiation through chemicals or act as a barrier against the rays through minerals.

UVA vs. UVB Rays?

Don’t worry, I’ll make this easy to understand. UVB rays cause the dreaded sunburn your children should really avoid during this time. While UVA rays penetrate more deeply into your skin, playing a bigger role in premature skin ageing. Yes, that means wrinkles. 

Another thing you should note is that both kinds play a role in the formation of skin cancer. So, I say it’s a good idea to invest in some sunscreen that can protect your kids from both rays, especially since they plan on spending a long while out in the water. 

What Types of Kids’ Sunscreen Should I Know about?

Teach your kids the habit of applying sunscreen!

Now that you know how kids’ sunscreens differ from sunblocks, you should be aware of the different types of kids’ sunscreens out there. While kids’ sunscreen isn’t choosy with the kind of activity your young ones plan on engaging in, you should pick out the best one unique to your children’s characteristics and needs. 

Mineral Kids’ Sunscreens

As I’ve mentioned before, this type acts as a barrier to the sun’s rays by sitting on top of your children’s skin. You can expect to find zinc or titanium in the list of ingredients, similar to sunblocks. The presence of these substances is the reason why the kids’ sunscreen stays on top of their skin. They may find it difficult to rub it evenly due to its nature. This type starts working as soon as you apply it on your children’s skin. It also comes off easily with the splashing water while playing sports or the sweat that comes from the heat and all that big energy. 

A big plus? As the nature of these sunscreens still leave a residue on the skin, you can expect some brands to have it in different colors. That means a whole lot more fun while giving the kiddos the protection they need!

Chemical Kids’ Sunscreens

I mentioned in passing that chemical sunscreens offer protection by absorbing the UV rays like a sponge. This happens because it converts the light hitting the kiddos’ skin into heat. Then it proceeds to release that heat from their bodies. 

You can expect no whitish coating left on their skin upon application. It doesn’t wash off as easily as mineral sunscreens do either. It lasts longer and the kids won’t have to endure that extra sticky feeling. Lastly, you can expect this type to start working 15-30 upon application. 

How Do I Select the Right Kids’ Sunscreen for my little one?

The sun is nice but it can be damaging 😢

Picked up on all of that? Good! Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of picking out the best kind of kids’ sunscreen for your next trip in the blue or watersports adventure! As with the other sections, this bit’s easy to read and remember. Although, feel free to bookmark this post once you’re scrolling through shops!

Keep these in mind while shopping, okay?

Broad-Spectrum Kids’ Sunscreen Is the Way to Go!

When on the hunt for the best sun protection for your children, better zero in on the “broad-spectrum” on the labels. This means that the product can protect them from both UVA and UVB rays that contribute to several skin conditions. 

SPF 30 Is The Other Path You Should Take

What’s SPF, anyway? SPF, or sun protection factor, measures how much energy from the big star up there is required to cause a bad sunburn while wearing sunscreen. In this case, picking a kids’ sunscreen with SPF 30 prevents a whopping 97% of UVB rays from reaching the skin of your beach-loving, enthusiastic kids. 

You may also opt for sunscreens higher than SPF 30. But what you ought to know is that those are marginally better at blocking them from UVB rays. For example, SPF 50% shields them from 98% of the harmful UVB rays, while SPF 100 protects them from 99%. It’s all up to you as a parent, as long as you get a product of at least SPF 30.

Mineral Kids’ Sunscreens Are Your Best Friend

While chemical sunscreens do their job well, the ingredients of a mineral sunscreen are better for your children. Again, these products use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as physical barriers. That means they’re less likely to be absorbed by your children’s skin that is exposed for hours under the stinging sun. This is good to note if they have skin on the sensitive side, but you can also consult professionals for proper advice.

And Avoid the Spray Sunscreens!

Compared to the topical type, you may find it hard to know how much sunscreen you’re spraying on their skin. I agree that it’s safe for the young ones’ skin, but the small particles of the product can be dangerous to the lungs once inhaled. 

Any Tips for Me?

We’re finally done with the basics. Once you’ve picked out the best sunscreen for your child, the next challenge you would face is applying it to them. Sure, this isn’t a problem for some parents, but I wanted to lend a hand to those who need help with their squirmers to cooperate, the eager-beavers to calm down for the application, and the sensory-sensitive. 

Let Them Have a Say

This is a bonus since you’re building up on your children’s autonomy. Similar to letting them pick out between snacks and toys, approach them with two trusted brands of sunscreens you trust. This can help them ease into using the product they chose for themselves!

Know Their Pace

This is for those who have children with autism and sensory sensitivities. This is all dependent on how you know their child, what distracts them easily and what textures and scents they are adverse to. You can choose unscented brands in case, and cover their exposed limbs in between bouts of activities he enjoys. Work with your child and be gentle. Have fun with them once you’re all done and ready to make a splash!

Be Silly and Creative!

This is a good suggestion should some of your youngsters prefer to apply kids’ sunscreen with a bit of fun. You and your family can all line up and rub sunscreen on each other’s back, should your children be more engaged with that. You can also make silly faces with them and make sunscreen application part of playtime. You can extend that playtime right into the water! 

Snack Time Maybe?

Kids are naturally bright balls of energy. Once they’re out there riding the waves and enjoying sports on the froth, it’s gonna be a while before they ask for breaks. But when they do, they’ll be looking for snacks. Lucky for you, you can choose this time to apply and reapply their sunscreen. By doing this, you ensure that they’re protected without cutting their playtime short. 

Better Use It Properly!

That’s both the selection process and all the fun tips down. But, how sure are you that you are applying the product properly? Here’s what you need to do. 

  1. Apply kids’ sunscreen whenever your kids want to have some fun under the sun. Yes, applying sunscreen isn’t limited to beach activities and watersports. Always apply it about 15-30 minutes before they go outside. 
  2. Don’t forget to rub in some of that kids’ sunscreen to the ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and nape. Be sure to apply right under their bathing suit straps. And yes, the lips are also important. You can protect them with the use of SPF 30 lip balm. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to apply a generous amount of sunscreen on your eager children! Dermatologists actually recommend using 1 ounce, or a shot glass/medicine cup-full of sunscreen on all exposed areas of their bodies. Another trick is to use the teaspoon rule. This means you use 9 teaspoons of the product for the whole body: 1 tsp for the face and neck, 1 tsp for the front of the torso, 1 tsp for the back, 1 tsp for each arm, 2 tsp for each leg. 
  4. Sunscreen comes off pretty often. Whenever they sweat and whenever they take a dip in the water for sure. Reapply it after each bout of activity or every 2 hours. 
  5. Since I’ve mentioned sunscreens that easily wash away, opt for a water-resistant type. This usually lasts up to 80 minutes in the water, but this doesn’t mean that you should disregard number 4. 

Do You Have Highly Recommended Sunscreen Recommendations?

And now for the starters! I mean, my recommendations for all of your children who are ready to do some cannonballs in the pool or paddle boarding in the water. I’ll be including prices and all the necessary info that can help you in picking out the best kids’ sunscreen for that next trip. 

Aveeno Mineral Sunscreen

First on our list is a twin-pack that’s good for your baby’s sensitive skin. With SPF 50, it blocks about 98% of the harmful UVB rays. What about the UVA? Don’t worry because this one’s got broad-spectrum protection. It’s also a mineral sunscreen that’s mild on the skin and provides the barrier your kids’ skin needs as they play under the sun. And it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes! 

Aveeno Mineral Sunscreen for Children’s Sensitive Skin

Here’s another from Aveeno that offers the same SPF 50 and broad -spectrum protection that number one has. Rest assured that their skin is shielded from both the harmful UVA and UVB rays as they make a splash. There is a good plus, though. This one is specially formulated for delicate skin, containing 100% zinc oxide and soothing oat for that desired resistance against water and sweat for up to 80 minutes. 

Neutrogena Kids Water-Resistant Sunscreen Stick 

Now, let’s move away from Aveeno and move on to kids’ sunscreen from Neutrogena. If your children’s too eager to jump into the pool with their board and other sports gear, then this stick is a good choice. It’s perfect for more contoured areas of the face, too. With a few swipes of this product, it creates a water-resistant barrier that lasts for up to 80 minutes. Of course, this one has SPF 70 and broad-spectrum protection so you’ll be content watching them play out in the sun. 

Thinksports Kids Mineral Sunscreen

Another good pick is this kids’ sunscreen from Thinksport. Again, its SPF 50+ and broad spectrum UVA and UVB offers the gentle defense your babies need as they run around at the beach. It’s hydrating and it offers water resistance for up to 80 minutes, too!

Baby Bum Sunscreen Face Stick

And for my last kids’ sunscreen pick is this affordable stick that is fragrance-free, perfect for the kids who can’t stand more chemical scents. Again, it has that SPF 50 and broad spectrum protection in its convenient format. It also contains natural zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea and cocoa butter that nourishes and hydrates all kinds of skin types. It’s perfect when your children just can’t wait to get out of the shade!

You’ve reached the end of the article! By now, you’re confident to buy the best sunscreen for your children. And that’s great since they’ll be out on the water and under the shining sun for a long while. I hope the comparisons, types, selection process, tip, and the proper application guide are helpful for you. Maybe you’ll even buy one of the products on my list! 

If you’re curious to know more about the personal sunscreen experiences of parents and their children, drop by my Facebook and Instagram! We’re excited to have you with us. 

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