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10 Best Kids’ Sunscreens for Every Child and Budget Under the Sun

So your kids can enjoy the sun safely.

parent applying sunscreen to kid's face
Getty Images

It is our job as parents to look out for the health and safety of our children, but with so much competing information about which one is best, how do you choose? What do you look for? We know that it's tempting just to slather your children in the same sunscreen you use on yourself, but that might not be ideal.

We spoke with dermatologists to determine what parents should know about sunscreen, and what they should be looking for. Diane Madfes, M.D., FAAD, tells Best Products that parents should understand that babies and children are not just mini adults. Their glands and hair follicles are less mature, and their skin is thinner and more sensitive. Because of that, not only should parents be hyper aware of the products they're using, but also how they're applied, when they're applied, and when they need to be reapplied.

Madfes notes that babies under 6 months old should not be using sunscreen. At that age, it's best to keep them covered and in the shade during the heat of the day when the sun is highest. After that, parents should be applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied after a few hours (more often if they're playing in the water). She suggests using a physical sunblock also known as mineral sunscreen that uses a paraben-free zinc or titanium dioxide formula with other ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides instead of typical chemical combinations for kids. And ditch the spray, she says.

Creams and sticks are best, notes Madfes, who suggests using the application time to give your baby a little massage or to bond with your child. Making the experience enjoyable for your kids means they're less likely to balk when the time comes.

Using Madfes’ guidelines, and our own years of experience of parenting kids who hate sunblock, we have found the best kids’ sunscreens on the market. They don’t stink, they’re great on even eczema-prone, hypersensitive skin, and they’re readily available.

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Best for Sensitive Skin
Aveeno Kids Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen
Aveeno amazon.com
$9.97 (19% off)

Do yourself a favor — if you like this one, set it up on auto-renew. Otherwise, it's so easy to forget. It's formulated with zinc oxide and free of parabens, phthalates and fragrances. It truly smells like nothing and feels like a typical lotion.

It doesn't burn like wildfire if it gets in your eye, either. It's a solid sunscreen at a great price.

Best Sunscreen Stick
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Kids Mineral Sunscreen Stick
Neutrogena amazon.com

You know when your kids are running away from you and you need to just get something on them? This is the sunscreen for that. We love it to throw on the kids’ faces before we play in the snow, when we’re just covering their faces and necks. It’s great for spot coverage, but if you like it, it’s easy to spread over their whole bodies as well.

It contains zinc oxide and SPF 50, and it is actually sheer, which many mineral sunscreens are not.

Best for Independent Kids
Project Sunscreen Roll-On SPF 50 Sun Protection for Kids
Project Sunscreen amazon.com

If your kids are a little bit older, and you want them to put on their own dang sunscreen, Project Sunscreen has an easy applicator for kids to put it on themselves. It’s like a roll-on deodorant or perfume, but it’s a paraben-free zinc oxide sunscreen. Plus, the top can be hung from your kids’ backpack, so they don’t forget it.

Creamiest Formula
Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
Sun Bum amazon.com

Baby Bum is the creamiest on this list. It's made with coconut oil and shea butter, using zinc oxide as the sunblock. There are no dyes, no gluten, and no parabens. It rubs in fairly quickly for a mineral sunscreen, with minimal effort required. It does have a light, slightly medicinal scent, but it evaporates quickly.

Best Water-Resistant Formula
Blue Lizard Kids Mineral Sunscreen Stick
BLUE LIZARD amazon.com

Blue Lizard sunscreen is super water-resistant, which makes sense because it's coral reef safe. It's a zinc formula enriched with sunflower seed oil and vitamin E to make the stick glide-on with ease. At under $15, it's a really great deal. 

Best Family Option
TotLogic Natural Mineral Sunscreen For Kids
TotLogic amazon.com
$12.95 (28% off)

It's rare to find a sunscreen that works well for the whole family, but this hypoallergenic, zinc oxide, environmentally friendly sunscreen is just that. It is gentle enough for kids, but clean and sheer enough for parents to feel comfortable wearing it. Even better, it is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.  

Best Allergen-Free Offering
Babo Botanicals Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Babo Botanicals amazon.com

Don't worry about the fish, this one is also reef-safe. Babo's sunscreen is made with zinc oxide, and gluten-, soy-, dairy-, peanut-, almond-, and walnut-free. It rubs in quickly, and the sunflower seed oil makes it easy to apply for everyone, and makes it comfortable for even the littlest kids.

Best Familiar Brand
Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids SPF 50
Coppertone walmart.com

If you’re a die-hard Coppertone fan, as many are, you’ll love this zinc formula from the brand. It smells familiar, and it’s full of neat ingredients like tea leaf, sea kelp, and lotus extracts that help soothe and protect the skin without traditional chemicals.

Best for Dry Skin
Earth Mama Kids Uber-Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
Earth Mama walmart.com

This formula is perfect for kids who suffer from dry skin. It is full of oatmeal and shea butter that work wonders on itchy kids. Made with non-nano zinc, it's reef-safe and quick to apply. It smells lightly floral to my nose, likely due to the calendula oil in the formula. 

Best All-Around
Thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 50
Thinkbaby walmart.com

This was the first mineral sunscreen I ever purchased, and I still love it. It's made with non-nano zinc and aloe vera, and was the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods' Market Premium Care requirements.

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