Best Sunscreen For Kids & Babies 2021: Reef-Safe Sunscreens

9 Kid- And Reef-Safe Sunscreens For Less Complaining & More Fun In The Sun

June 12, 2019 Updated February 5, 2021

Kid Safe Sunscreen

The best kids sunscreens aren’t just safe for your baby (or toddler, or tween) — they’re also safe for the environment! Not-so-fun fact: Some common ingredients in sunscreen can actually damage coral reefs as they wash off into the ocean. And if they’re capable of that, would you really want to smear it on your kiddo’s sensitive skin? It’s all connected, and we know you care about your little one and the world they’re living in, so it’s important to use products that are safe for both. Needless to say, a kid- and reef-safe sunscreen is an essential item for a fun day at the beach (or at the inflatable pool, at the amusement park … you get the drift). 

The second hurdle, of course, is getting your kid to wear the sunscreen you so thoughtfully chose to keep them safe from burns and long-term effects like skin cancer. That’s why a formula that’s easy to apply is ideal, whether that be a lotion, sunscreen spray, or sunscreen stick. And for especially squirmy kids, try getting one that provides broad spectrum protection and is water-resistant for 80 minutes instead of the typical 40 minutes to avoid some re-applications. 

In the name of safe fun in the sun, we’re here to answer some of your burning questions and share our favorite mineral sunscreens. Also, do yourself a favor and get the kids to wear a rash guard — that’s half of the battle.

What ingredients for sunscreen are bad for reefs?

Sunscreen can be harmful to our ocean’s disappearing coral reefs – and it’s cool to help out our coral reefs and teach our kids to do the same. Two of the most common ingredients that are harmful to reefs are oxybenzone and octinoxate, so to start, check labels for those culprits. We have to wonder, if those products are so bad for reefs, how can they be good for our LO?

How do you choose the best sunscreen for kids’ sensitive skin?

We chatted with Doris Day, MD, board-certified dermatologist, and author of Beyond Beautiful. Day says, “most of the allergens and irritants people are worried about in sunscreens are from added ingredients to make the product smell or look better or from the preservative, not usually from the sunscreen ingredient itself.” Day points out, “the best sunscreen for kids uses physical protection from age six months and onward. When your child is ready for sunscreen, choose formulas that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are often pasty and thick.” For especially sensitive skin, you’ll also want to opt for formulas that are free of fragrances, parabens, pthalates, and ideally, tear-free, too. 

We took Day’s advice, hunted through reviews, and turned to recommendations from parents to come up with a list of top sunscreens that are good for kids’ sensitive skin and the environment. From Hello Bello, to Blue Lizard, to Baby Bum (you know, the monkey sunscreen bottle), these sunscreens will keep your family and the coral reefs safe. So grab your lotions, sunscreen sticks, and spray sunscreens, and get ready to catch some rays. 

Best Sunscreens For Kids & Babies

Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

There’s no monkey business with this gentle formula, thanks to a relatively short list of mineral-based ingredients and a creamy formula kids won’t mind spreading all over themselves. Isn’t that really the mark of the best sunscreen for kids, anyway? Getting them to use it without screaming, tears, or a fight is half the battle. This company is proud of their plant-based formula as it relates to the environment, and openly supports the Hawaiian legislature’s approval of the bill that will ban the sales of all sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate starting 2021. The SPF 50 sunscreen provides UVA/UVB protection and contains natural zinc oxide, as well as coconut oil, shea butter, and coconut butter for a nice hydrating feeling. It’s created by parents, specifically formulated for the sensitive skin of kids, toddlers, and babies, and tested and reviewed by pediatricians and dermatologists.

$14 AT AMAZON

Thinksport Kids Safe Sunscreen, SPF 50+

Thinksport Kids Safe Sunscreen is made by a team of physicians and scientists, and as a result, it was the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care Requirements and has had a top rating on EWG’s Skin Deep since 2010. The mineral-based formula is biodegradable and has no parabens, phthalates, or harmful chemicals like oxybenzone. It absorbs easily, has SPF 50, and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

$5 AT AMAZON

Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30

You’ll feel good about using this reef-safe formula that doesn’t have a drop of oxybenzone or octinoxate in its formula. Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen is dermatologist-recommended and is free of parabens, chemicals, and fragrance. It’s mineral-based, which means it uses oodles of tiny reflective particles to put harmful rays in a time-out while your little one splashes in the water, runs around the playground, or participates in just about anything else that keeps them out of your hair for up to 40 minutes. And if you forget to be put on sunscreen before or after you head outside, the smart bottle cap will remind you — it turns pink in harmful UV light to remind you to apply some on. The SPF 30+ formula is pediatrician recommended and has broad spectrum protection from 97 percent of the sun’s rays.

AT AMAZON

Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30

For active little bodies, Badger Baby Sunscreen provides gentle, biodegradable, and reef-friendly (no oxybenzone or octinoxate) sun protection. Your kid will also love the cute little badger illustration on the label. The sunscreen is hypoallergenic, pediatrician-tested, water-resistant, and safe to use for babies and kids. In addition to non-nano mineral zinc oxide to provide broad spectrum protection, the formula includes just six other organic and natural ingredients, including sunflower oil, beeswax, chamomile, and vitamin E — you’ll feel relieved to know there are no harsh chemicals being used on your or your family’s skin. The company is a certified B corporation, and even the tube the sunscreen comes in is BPA-free and made from recyclable plastic.

One parent and reviewer said, “I have a baby boy with very fair skin and this was the only sunscreen we used all summer. I did a lot of research while looking for a healthier alternative to store brand sunscreens that are filled with tons of chemicals. I wanted to give my baby the best and this is it.”

$14 AT AMAZON

Hello Bello Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are parents to two young girls and co-founders of Hello Bello, which makes premium but affordable plant-based products that are good for your family and the earth. The mineral sunscreen provides SPF 50 broad spectrum protection using non-nano zinc oxide. The other ingredients include organic shea and cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, and organic green tea, avocado, and cucumber extracts (almost sounds delicious enough to eat!). It’s also dermatologist-tested, water-resistant, hypoallergenic, and safe for both adults and kids.

 

$9 AT WALMART

Aveeno Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, 2 Pack

Another very mom-trusted brand in skincare, Aveeno specializes in baby skincare products like this Continuous Protection sunscreen for sensitive skin. Sweat and water resistant (up to 80 minutes), this 100% naturally sourced mineral sunscreen is chock full of zinc oxide. Two 3 oz tubes with SPF 50 should keep bb safe for a while, or at least a few days splashing around in the new baby pool. It’s not greasy, so it’s easy to get on and easy to get off, something every mom knows is an A+ feature.

$16 AT WALMART

Best Spray Sunscreens For Kids

Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray

Remember all the great things we already said about Baby Bum? Ditto for this spray! It’ll provide plant and mineral-based SPF protection, but with easier application, if your kids prefer spray. It’s also fragrance- and junk-free, which makes it ideal for sensitive skin, and will keep your kiddo shielded for up to 80 fun-filled minutes.

$13.99 AT AMAZON

Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray

Remember all the great things we already said about Baby Bum? Ditto for this spray! It’ll provide plant and mineral-based SPF protection, but with easier application, if your kids prefer spray. It’s also fragrance- and junk-free, which makes it ideal for sensitive skin, and will keep your kiddo shielded for up to 80 fun-filled minutes.

$13.99 AT AMAZON

Best Kids Sunscreen For Faces

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 60

Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick makes it easy to bring sunscreen with you wherever you go. This convenient stick is great to use on the face and ears and has a lightweight, non-greasy feel while providing broad spectrum SPF 60+ protection. It’s water-resistant (up to 80 minutes), hypoallergenic, oil- and PABA-free, and easily fits in your purse, carry-on bag, or any other place you’ll probably want to stow away some sunscreen to use in a pinch. The sunscreen is made with 100 percent naturally sourced ingredients and formulated for sensitive baby skin — it was even awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance for eczema & sensitive skin conditions. It’s also one of the best sunscreens for kids, thanks to its ease of use for tiny hands and a zinc-based formulation. If your tots can use a glue stick, they can hold this stick of sunscreen without any issue.

$8 AT AMAZON

Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick

Yep, it’s Baby Bum again (love that cute little monkey!), but we’re not complaining! It’s all the good stuff — mineral- and plant-based formula, broad spectrum SPF 50, 80 minutes of protection — and none of the bad stuff you’d want on your kids’ skin — especially their face. The stick form makes it easier to apply carefully and precisely on noses, cheeks, foreheads, and around the eyes.

$9.95 AT AMAZON

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Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 5...
$14
Thinksport Kids Safe Sunscreen, SPF 50+
$5
Love Sun Body 100% Natural Sunscreen For...
$36
Babyganics Continuous Sunscreen Spray Fo...
Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen St...
$8
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
$14
Hello Bello Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50
$9
Aveeno Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF...
$16
Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray
$13.99
Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick
$9.95