Fun in the Sun: A Dermatologist’s Top Kids’ Sunscreen Picks
It’s spring break and we’re longing for family fun, warmth and sunshine as much as everyone else after this Missouri winter. A family trip to Arizona is tradition, and it makes the perfect opportunity to road-test our favorite sun protection for the summer!
Of course, we have our go-to brands, but there are always new ones to market. We want to be able to make the best recommendations for you and your family.
In this post, we’re specifically talking about sunscreens geared toward kids. The younger members of our families can be a little bit trickier than adults – they often have more sensitive skin or just plain have an aversion to having the white stuff rubbed all over them. But it’s a battle worth fighting. Even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma.
As a baseline, Dr. Fieleke recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB light. Find something that suits your lifestyle and that you’ll be able to apply regularly every two hours. And don’t rely on sunscreen as your only form of protection. Avoiding peak-sun times and sun-protective clothing should also be a part of your family’s strategy.
“A lot of people ask if they’re using high enough SPF but that’s probably the wrong question to ask,” he says. “SPF 45 or higher is adequate, but reapplying regularly is key because even water-resistant sunscreens wash off in the pool or when you sweat.”
Dr. Fieleke advises applying sun protection at least 15 minutes before you go outdoors and use way more than you think every two hours. Statistics show that most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount. One ounce, think a shot-glass full, is the amount needed to generously cover all areas of the body not covered by clothing.
Even if you have a squirmy kid, sunscreen application doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Here are some tips for getting your little people excited about sun safety:
For smaller kids, sing a song as you apply sunscreen. Feel free to use the song Dr. Fieleke made up (see video below), he won’t mind.
As kids get older, show them how to apply sunscreen by themselves. Kids are more likely to get onboard with the ritual if you allow them to take ownership in it. (An easy way to get started is to watch them apply a stick to their face while you apply cream or spray to their body. Supervision is key.)
Pick a FUNscreen that incorporates color, glitter or scent if your kiddo isn’t sensitive to these ingredients. (See some recommendations below.)
Buy sun-protective clothing they’ll actually wear. We love the styles by KC-local company, SwimZip, and the colorpop prints by Mott 50 made with UPF 50 fabric. Even Target and Gap have rash guards, so there’s no reason to not incorporate a rash guard and a hat into the summertime rotation!
Here are the kid-friendly sunscreens that we’re recommending for summer fun and sun protection:
Aveeno Baby SPF 50 with zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. It’s formulated for sensitive skin and is parabaen, phthalate and fragrance-free. It’s a top pick of the Environmental Working Group.
Badger kids sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide contains just six ingredients, and provides UVA/UVB protection without chemicals for up to 40 minutes. Kids will love the Tangerine and Vanilla creamsicle scent. Eco-Conscious parents will love that it’s reef-safe and comes in a biodegradable tube. Also a top pick of the Environmental Working Group.
Blue Lizard is a brand that Dr. Fieleke has been recommending for kids with sensitive skin for years. This mineral-based SPF 30 + formula contains no parabens or fragrances. Kids love that bottle changes color in UV light, letting them know it’s time to apply sunscreen. Also a top pick of the Environmental Working Group.
Thinksport Kids Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ provides UVA/UVB protection. It’s paraben, phthalate and PABA-free and a top pick of the Environmental Working Group. We like how it rubs in on our kids and is not greasy. Our kids enjoy the light tropical smell.
Sea Star Sparkle Sunscreen SPF 50 is PABA and paraben-free, and brings the party with non-irritant glitter and delicious scents like Party Cake and Cotton Candy.
Bare Republic Neon Mineral Sunscreen Sticks with 25 percent zinc oxide come in brightly colored sticks kids are sure to love helping apply. Parent tip: You apply the regular sunscreen on their body while they paint their face. This brand (not the stick) is a top pick of the Environmental Working Group.