Summer is here and so is the summer heat. With summer vacations around the corner many families are making plans for vacations and with that starts the hunt for the best sunscreens for babies available in the market.
Why it is important to apply sunscreen on babies
A babies delicate skin is prone to sunburn and rashes. While Vit D from the sun is essential for strong bones, protecting the baby from harsh UV rays is vitally important.
Research shows that even a few really bad sunburns in childhood increase the risk of skin cancer in adult life.
How to choose a sunscreen for kids
There are two types of sunscreens to choose from;
Chemical sunscreens that absorb UV rays and convert the sun’s radiation into heat energy eg avobenzone up to 3%, octinoxate, and oxybenzone.
Physical sunscreens that deflect and scatter the rays before they penetrate the skin. eg titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
Certain chemical sunscreens like PABA and oxybenzone have been linked to skin reactions in children. [source]
Physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are better tolerated by a child’s sensitive skin. Therefore most children’s sunscreens contain physical blockers.
When buying sunscreen for babies and kids look for the following details for best results and minimum risk of reaction
- PABA and oxybenzone free
- Has SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or more
- Is a broad spectrum sunscreen (covers both UVA and UVB rays)
- Water resistant
- Avoid sprays (one, there is a risk of child inhaling the aerosol particles, and two because it’s difficult to gauge how much product is actually applied)
How to use sunscreen
You should test the sunscreen for any reactions by applying a small amount on the child’s forearm.
When using, apply sunscreen to exposed skin 15-20 minutes before exposure to the sun.
Apply an adequate amount of sunscreen each time, such that it covers the exposed skin properly.
Don’t forget to apply around the kids’ swimsuits and exposed skin area under swimsuit straps, the ears, nose, and top of the feet.
Use lotions on babies and kids and avoid using sunscreen sprays. The aerosol particles from the sunscreen spray can be inhaled by the child.
Do not apply sunscreen to babies below 6 months of age. Studies show that chemicals in sunscreen cause harm to infants (0-6-month-old) skin. It is best to cover baby on days out in the sun and keep baby in the shade of their strollers on under an umbrella.
When adequate clothing or shade is unavailable, you may use a mild sunscreen of SPF 15 on exposed parts of babies face and back of the hands. Remember it takes up to 30 minutes for sunscreen to be effective.
But in all other situations, it is best to keep baby away from direct sunlight and under shade. [source]
How often should you reapply sunscreen on a child
After the child has been in the sun for 60-80 minutes reapply the sunscreen. I would reapply even before the 60-minute mark if the child is sweating a lot or gets wet, just to be sure.
Other precautions to take when out in the sun
Use sun hats and covered clothing when out in the sun for long periods of time.
Avoid going out in the sun in peak sunshine hours between 10 am to 4 pm.
A combination of covered clothing and sunscreen is the recommended sun protection for kids and adults.
Best sunscreens for babies and kids
I will be using the EWG recommendations for the best sunscreen for kids in 2018. What is EWG? And why their recommendations?
EWG (The Environment Working Group) is a non-profit organization that has a mission to educate consumers about the ingredients in household and personal care products helping them make an informed choice.
I visit the EWG database to check the rating they give each product on a scale of 0-10. 0 is the safest and least toxic in terms of the chemicals used in the product.
Currently, the database is limited to US-based and other international brands. For our Indian brands, I have to rely on labels and any other certifications the brand claims to have and trust that all the information provided is correct.
Going with the EWG recommendations for sunscreen for babies and kids is the best option since they thoroughly check every product and its potential toxicity alongside effectiveness.
Another important point I want to mention here is that sunscreen is one product where I would personally rather go with a more effective formulation over the safety of the overall ingredients used. Because when it comes to sunscreen the SPF factor and ability to be waterproof is far more important for effective protection from the sun than some lightweight natural sunscreen formulation. I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect our children from sunburns.
Here is a look at some of the EWG rated best sunscreens for babies. This list will come handy for my Indian and International readers, so make a note.
Do keep in mind that companies change formulations too, so these recommendations may change in time. For the complete list, click here
EWG BEST SUNSCREEN FOR BABIES
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
- Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream, Tangerine & Vanilla, SPF 30
- California Baby Calendula Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50
- Thinksport Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50+
- Tom’s of Maine Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- TruBaby Water & Play Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, SPF 35
- Adorable Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Best sunscreen for babies in India
Since most of the EWG recommended sunscreens are unavailable in India, I had to look at options available in India too, so that my readers had more options to choose from.
Unfortunately, at this moment, we don’t have a local committee like EWG that reviews ingredients in Indian baby care products and provides data freely to the public.
I scanned the products in the market and found some that are safer than the rest.
There are many natural sunscreen formulations available at the moment, but most of them provide very little SPF usually between 15-30 which is not adequate for the Indian summer. Especially if you are going on vacations and planning on staying outdoors for summer activities.
These natural SPF 15 sunscreens, in my opinion, are best for daily use on days that don’t involve long hours out in the sun. But when it comes to a day at the beach or long treks in the mountains or anything outdoors in the sun we need an SPF 30 plus sunscreen for our babies.
Unfortunately most easily available sunscreens in the higher SPF range have some questionable ingredients. Read, Phenoxyethanol.
Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative in cosmetic products. Exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to reactions ranging from eczema to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. Infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol can acutely affect nervous system function. It is recommended that infants not be exposed to cosmetics containing phenoxyethanol. [source]
Here is what I am doing at the moment. I use a natural formulation (currently using Mamaearth) for daily park time in the evenings. And for other more sun-filled days, I will buy one of the EWG recommended sunscreens for babies.
If I can’t get my hands on the ones recommended by EWG I would use some of the brands I am recommending below that have higher SPF’s. Ultimately, in this case, sun protection is more important than chemicals for me.
We really do have a raw deal when it comes to availability of good quality sunscreens for babies but a little planning can help in sourcing these products from abroad until they are easily available to us in India.
Natural sunscreen for kids in India
The active sunscreen agent used is zinc oxide. Mamaearth sunscreen is dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, and contains natural fragrance coming from essential oils. What I love about Mamaearth products is that they use natural ingredients and safe chemical components in making their formulations. All Mamaearth products are MadeSafe certified, and the Mamaearth sunscreen is one of the safest sunscreen for babies in India.
The only con is that the SPF 20 is too low for Indian summers.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Zinc Oxide, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Olive Il, Rice Bran Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Wheatgerm Oil, Calendula Extract, Vitamin E, Sorbitan Olivate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyly Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate & Lavender Essential Oil.
Cocomo baby products is a new entrant in the market. The products are paraben free, sulfate free, cruelty-free, natural and safe.
Cocomo states that all their cleansers and lotions are designed for children 4 years and up.
Their products are dermatologically tested, certified safe, toxin-free and do not contain any harsh chemicals or synthetic fragrances.
While these features make this a children’s sunscreen for very sensitive skin, the con once again is that the SPF is very low. Only SPF 15, which is just not enough for the Indian summer.
The company claims that all ingredients are natural/eco-certified and derived from natural sources.
Aqua, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Butyl Methoxydibenzomethane, Benzophenone-3, Phospholipids, 1,3-Butylene Glycol, Shea Butter, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Cetosteryl Alcohol, Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Calendula Extract, Aloe Vera, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Glyceryl Mono Stearate, Kokum Butter, Fragrance, Sodium Gluconate, Passion Fruit Oil, Tocopherol, C.I. No. 42051, Tea Tree Oil, C.I. No. 19140, 42090
I included CeraVe Baby Sunscreen SPF 45 because it has an EWG rating 2. The brand uses naturally sourced physical sunscreen ingredients and is free of parabens and sulfates. It is a broad spectrum sunscreen, hypoallergenic, water resistant and fragrance-free. This sunscreen is usually recommended as one of the best sunscreen for babies and toddlers with eczema. It comes with the NEA (The National Eczema Association) seal of acceptance.
Titanium Dioxide 7.4%, Zinc Oxide 11.4%
Water, Butyloctyl Salicylate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Caprylyl Methicone, Isohexadecane, Triethylhexanoin, Mica, Glyceryl Stearate, Trimethylsiloxy Silicate, PEG-100 Stearate, Alumina, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Aluminum Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Polypropyl Silsesquioxane, Xanthan Gum, Hydrogenated Dimer Dilinoleyl/Dimethylcarbonate Copolymer, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Cetyl Alcohol, Isostearic Acid, PEG-75 Stearate, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Glyceryl Isostearate, Propylene Glycol Isostearate, Oleth-25, Ceteth-25, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Ceteth-20, Steareth-20, Stearic Acid, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Glucamine, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Silica, phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Carbomer
I included Sebamed baby sunscreen because it has a high SPF factor of 50, but couldn’t find an EWG rating for this particular product. It comes with a pH of 5.5 which is suited for delicate baby skin. It is free of paraffin, parabens, acrylamide, PEG bonds, and PABA esters. Sebamed baby sunscreen is also water resistant.
Aqua, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Octocrylene, Titanium Dioxide (Nano), Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Dimethicone, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Magnesium Sulfate, Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone, Inulin, Lecithin, Bisabolol, Cera Alba, Glyceryl Oleate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Silica, Zinc Stearate, Parfum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid.
For more organic baby product reviews you can check the Reviews Category on the blog.
I hope this list of sunscreen for babies and kids comes in handy this summer. Remember when stepping out of the house it is important to use sunscreen. Do not skip this step. Damage once done to the skin is irreversible. Enjoy the summer and stay safe from the sun.
Until next time, Ciao!