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The 6 Best Spray Sunscreens for Kids — To Make Getting On The SPF A Bit Easier

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Sunscreen is a must to keep your kids protected when playing outside, but they may not always agree. Is there anything harder than putting sunscreen on a squirmy kid who just wants to get into the water? To make SPF application a bit easier, the best spray sunscreens for kids are a useful tool in getting the sun protection on before they hit the pool or beach. With safety in mind, Scary Mommy turned to an expert, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Geeta Yadav, to learn more about what to look for when shopping for spray sunscreens for kids.

The Expert

Dr. Geeta Yadav is a board-certified dermatologist and expert in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. With a master’s degree in International Health from Johns Hopkins, she trained at the University of Toronto and continues to teach there. Dr. Yadav is also a fellow of several organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology.

Which Sunscreen Spray Is Safe For Kids?

As you might remember, some aerosol sunscreens were recalled in July 2021. The FDA subsequently reviewed spray sunscreens and deemed spray sunscreens generally safe and effective as of September 2021, with the caveat that they are “subject to testing and labeling requirements.”

That said, it’s an application that needs to be applied to your child with care to avoid potentially irritating or even burning their precious skin.

“Sunscreen can be applied on children older than six months,” says Dr. Yadav. “But technique is very important when applying sunscreen, especially to a child.” Dr. Yadav went on to explain: “It is critical to avoid inhalation of spray sunscreens. Be aware of the direction that the wind is blowing and do not apply it to the face by spraying directly. You should also avoid using spray sunscreen near heat or an open flame, including a lit cigarette, as spray sunscreen could be flammable.”

A quick tip is to spray the sunscreen onto your hands and then spread it onto their face. And even for the parts of their body (like backs and legs) that you can spray directly, you still need to finish the job. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reminds parents that spraying alone is not enough — the sunscreen still needs to be rubbed into the skin.

What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Spray Sunscreens For Kids

According to Dr. Yadav, it’s best to choose mineral-based sunscreens (instead of chemical-based formulas) and non-aerosol versions, if possible. Mineral formulas typically include zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. If your kiddo has sensitive skin, you may want to avoid sunscreens with fragrance, and we’ve noted which sprays below are fragrance-free.

In terms of the SPF to look for, the AAP recommends that parents opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays with at least SPF 15 or 30; and the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) takes it a step further, recommending a 30 SPF or higher.

Reef-safe sunscreens, free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, are readily available to protect your kiddo while also not harming the environment they’re splashing in. For you convenience, we’ve indicated which picks below are reef-safe.

Now, with all that in mind, let’s get to the best spray sunscreens for kids, so you can get to the beach already.

1. The Overall Best Spray Sunscreen For Kids

Babyganics SPF 50 sunscreen spray is a top choice with over 19,000 five-star ratings for its mineral-based, broad-spectrum protection. This non-aerosol pick uses a pump, and you’ll appreciate that the nourishing formula uses a blend of tomato, sunflower, cranberry, black cumin, and raspberry seed oils to help hydrate your kids’ skin, too. It’s also tear-free, to make applying a bit less stressful.

Helpful review: “I’ve tried multiple kiddo sunscreens and this is my favorite by far. With all the new research suggesting sunscreen is highly absorbed by the body, I feel better knowing I’m using a natural, mineral sunscreen. I simply spray this on my hands and then rub on my girls. You all know that kiddos hate cold sunscreen going on or you end up spraying them in the eyes! I also use this on my face because I have sensitive rosacea and I have no irritation with this product. No sunburns to date and both myself and my girls have had zero irritation.”

Water-Resistant For: 80 minutes | Reef-Safe: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes

2. The Runner-Up: A Mineral Spray With An Eco-Conscious Spray

Blue Lizard mineral sunscreen is another fan favorite for sun protection, and it uses newer propellant technology that is gentler on the environment than some older versions of aerosol cans. The broad-spectrum, zinc-based formula includes antioxidants to nourish and moisturize skin, too. Plus, it dries impressively clear after it’s sprayed and rubbed in.

Helpful review: “So excited they finally launched a collection of spray sunscreens. What I like most about this sunscreen is the zinc only formula and earth friendly propellant. It does go on white due to zinc formulation but quickly rubs in clear which is really cool. Congrats Blue Lizard for all the care you put into developing this spray as it not only provides great sun protection, but environmental protection as well. Highly recommend.”

Water-Resistant For: 80 Minutes | Reef-Safe: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes

3. The Best On A Budget

Kids who hate the smell of sunscreen will love the alba Botanica kids sunscreen spray for its light, tropical fruit scent. This broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen is also made with avocado oil and aloe to soften your kids' skin and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. We love that it sprays on clear and rubs on easily.

Helpful review: “Great sunscreen!!! I will be purchasing this for the long haul! It smells great, not too greasy, and hasn’t broke out my very sensitive child. 10 STARS!!!”

Water-Resistant For: 80 Minutes | Reef-Safe: No | Fragrance-Free: No

4. This Sheer Sunscreen That’s Great For Kids With Sensitive Skin

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen is an SPF 30 spray designed for sensitive skin and it goes on without any of the white cast that some mineral sunscreens are known for. The broad-spectrum zinc oxide formula is hypoallergenic and includes gentle chamomile and calendula; you’ll also love that it is non-greasy.

Helpful review: “I absolutely love this sunscreen. My son has sensitive skin so we've tried so many different brands of sunscreen. This is so easy to apply and protects his skin so well. Can't recommend enough!”

Water-Resistant For: 80 Minutes | Reef-Safe: Yes | Fragrance-Free: Yes

5. Another Soothing Sunscreen Spray With Aloe

The All Good kid’s sunscreen spray is another mineral-based broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s also designed to be gentle on skin, and this one includes soothing aloe, as well as organic chamomile. This climate-neutral certified brand’s non-greasy formula is a fave among shoppers for going on skin easily.

Helpful review: “I was searching for a good sunblock for my toddler - trying to find one safe for the ocean, easy to apply and most importantly protect and not irritate my son’s sensitive skin and this one is the best I’ve tried! I used this all last spring and summer when he was 2 and just purchased more for this year. I also feel like I don’t have to use a ton of this sunscreen like I have others because it applies so well. Thanks for a great product at a great price! Love to support companies like this!”

Water-Resistant For: 80 Minutes | Reef-Safe: Yes | Fragrance Free: Yes

6. A Non-Aerosol Spray That Smells Like Coconut & Vanilla

Like our top pick, the Beauty by Earth SPF 30 mineral sunscreen spray is a non-aerosol spray sunscreen, but this one has an irresistible vanilla coconut scent. It’s also nourishing thanks to hydrating ingredients, like squalane and shea butter. This zinc oxide-formulated pick is also available in unscented, peppermint and geranium, or vanilla mint.

Helpful review: “Love the light scent and how easy it is blend this sunscreen! I also like that there is a lock button which prevents it from spraying and spilling everywhere in my bag.”

Water-Resistant For: N/A | Reef-Safe: Yes | Fragrance Free: No

Nice To Have: A Roll-On Sunscreen For Little Faces

If you’re looking for something just as convenient as spray to use on your little one’s face, keep this mineral sunscreen stick in your bag. It’s a lightweight, non-greasy formula you can roll right onto their skin for broad-spectrum protection. Plus, it smells subtly of coconut and chocolate.

Water-Resistant For: 80 Minutes | Reef-Safe: Yes | Fragrance Free: Yes

Expert:

Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Facet Dermatology