School is out and so is the sun. This means it is time for outdoor fun. Do you depend on using sunscreens for skin protection? Millions of Americans do, but they shouldn’t rely on this alone. The rate of melanoma diagnosis is increasing. The consensus among scientists is that sunscreens alone cannot reverse this trend. Yet a good sunscreen can play a role in preventing sunburns that are a major risk factor for melanoma – provided you use it correctly.
Do you know which sunscreens are the safest products to protect us from the sun? Luckily the Environmental Working Group has just released their picks for the best and worst sunscreens for kids and babies.
Let’s start off with the list of products to avoid. These products either don’t work well, contain potentially harmful ingredients or a combination of both, leading them to land on the top 14 worst sunscreens list:
- Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
- Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
- Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70
- Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray Kids, SPF 70
- Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70
- Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Water Babies, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Kids, SPF 55
- Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Water Babies, SPF 55
- Coppertone Sunscreen Water Babies Foaming Lotion, SPF 70
- CVS Health Children’s Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
- Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
- Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Sticks, SPF 55
For the most part, the sunscreens that scored the safest were mineral-based versions with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. So what should you be buying instead?
Here are the EWG’s picks for the 19 safest sunscreens for kids and babies:
- Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
- All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 30
- All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 50
- Babytime! by Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35
- Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
- Bare Republic Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby, SPF 30+
- BurnOut KIDS Sunscreen, SPF 35
- California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Caribbean Sol Sol Kid Kare, SPF 30
- Goddess Garden Organics Baby Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Kiss My Face Organics Kids Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen Kids, SPF 50
- Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sunscreen, SPF 40
- ThinkSport Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50+
- Tom’s of Maine Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30
The EWG also gives some general tips for when parents are out shopping for sunscreen:
- Keep an eye out for ingredients like retinyl palmiate, which has been linked to sun sensitivity, and oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor. You’ll want to avoid putting these on your little ones.
- Avoid aerosol versions. Not only do they not provide enough even coverage, kids can inhale them and get harmful chemicals into their immature lungs.
- Avoid anything with an SPF 50 or higher, which “give people a false sense of security.” In reality, a sunscreen with SPF 50 doesn’t protect better than one with SPF 30. Even SPF 15 is fine, the most important thing is to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before your child will be outside and then to reapply at least every two hours.
Protecting yourself from the sun is important- follow our tips for treating sun damaged skin.