I don’t need to tell you about the importance of proper sun protection for both the average parent, and our kids. But, finding the right product and application technique can sometimes be difficult. In my case, applying sunscreen was always a battle with a wriggling little guy. He almost always ended up with greased hair and more than one eye irritation. I knew there had to be a better way. So I set out to find the best sunscreens that were easy to apply and didn’t irritate baby’s delicate skin or run into the eyes. I reviewed products guaranteed to be hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested, that were available through the local drugstore and online. While I tested more than 30 varieties, I’ve narrowed down the list to provide a few recommendations for both baby and the average parent.

For Babies and Kids

Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple (SPF 50)

Water Babies has been a summer mainstay for more than 50 years because of its gentle formula. Now, Coppertone has taken a good product and made it even better. The new Pure and Simple product goes on thicker and whiter, allowing for more even distribution. Some parents have commented that they don’t like the thick formula. But I think the thicker formula keeps the lotion in place—helping to avoid eye irritation. Pure and Simple absorbs quickly and leaves no sticky, chalky or greasy residue on baby’s skin or clothes. It retails for about $10 for an 8oz bottle and is available at most retailers nationwide.

Some key features you can find with this product: Tear free; Oil, fragrance, and dye free; Hypoallergenic; Gentle, zinc oxide sun protection formula; Special moisturizers and aloe to help keep babies’ skin soft and smooth; Dermatologist, ophthalmologist, and pediatrician tested; Waterproof; and Broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

baby silk babysafe sunscreen towelettes from MD Moms (SPF 30)

These towelettes retail for about $26.00 for 15, which I understand is a bit of a splurge, but trust me on this one. Baby Silk is the first pediatrician-developed personal care line especially for babies…so you know where their focus is. Because the application is so fast, easy and gentle they’re an ideal choice for parents with infants or children suffering from hyperactivity, sensory disorders and even autism. The MD Moms products have a fragrance that irritated my son when I used their lotion. However, the scent is so subtle in these towels, that I didn’t even realize it was there.

According to the company website, each wipe is saturated with a gentle, sweat-proof, broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen that’s enriched with Vitamins E and B5, marine silk, aloe and oat. It’s gentle enough for even the youngest baby’s skin. Each wipe contains enough sunscreen to cover baby from head to toe, with no fuss and no mess. It’s so easy to apply that I actually had to contact a company rep to make sure I was doing it correctly.

Some key features you can find with this product: Contains no phthalates, lanolin, mineral oil, petroleum or waxes; Contains physical sunscreens, titanium and zinc oxide, as the only active ingredients; Protects against UVA and UVB rays; Clinically tested & hypoallergenic; Made in the USA; No animal testing

Mad Gab’s Face Stick (SPF 30)

Coppertone and Banana Boat offer comparable SPF face sticks, but they’re not as good. I just love Mad Gab’s. Check out their website and you’ll understand what I mean. With an eco-friendly, community-minded approach, it’s hard not to fall in love with their all-natural products. The face stick is especially great for families on the go, as well as itty bitty infants. As you may already know, the American Acadamy of Pediatrics now recommends limited sunscreen use on babies under 6 months (opposed to a previous recommendation of no sunscreen at all). Mad Gab’s face stick is ideal for applying all-natural, non-irritating protection to those tiny noses and hands. It’s super easy to apply and perfect for delicate skin. My son actually enjoys it when I apply the product to his face…and we’ve already started using it this summer. The sticks sell for about $6.50 a stick and are available at select locations nationwide and online at madgabs.com.

Some key features you can find with this product: The Face Stick with SPF 30 is packed with cocoa butter and jojoba that moisturizes skin while providing strong protection against the sun’s harmful rays. Just throw it in the diaper bag and off you go.

SAFE BABY Waterproof Sun Protection SPF 50, from Skin by Monica Olson

I tested tons and tons of sunscreens in search of an all-natural alternative to chemical-based lotions. Before I tried SAFE BABY, I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to find one that was worth recommending. Unlike other all-natural lotions, SAFE BABY is extremely easy to apply, has a pleasant smell, goes on smooth and doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind. This lotion sells for $23 for a 4oz bottle and is available at select locations nationwide, in Canada and online at skinbymonica.com.

Some key features you can find with this product: no harsh chemicals; gentle even on the most sensitive skin; derived from organic ingredients; dermatologist tested.

SunBrellas Family Block SPF 36 by Jason

I’m a big fan of the skin care products by Jason. In fact, we use their Kids Only! Extra Gentle Shampoo for my son and LOVE it. Their sunscreen line is just as good. It was one more lucky find in the all natural arena. This product goes on smoothly, doesn’t leave a sticky residue and has a very pleasant smell that just reminds me of the beach. It’s perfect for my families delicate skin and super sensitive allergies. SunBrellas Family Block sells for about $10 for a 4oz tube and is available at select retailers, through their webstore or on Amazon.

Key features for this product: Their entire line of sunscreen is PABA-free, alcohol-free and water resistant. Each formulation provides the best possible defense from the sun without irritation. Sunbrellas Family Block SPF36 offers full spectrum skin protection while combining powerful anti-oxidants and natural ingredients to protect, nourish and reduce premature aging of the skin.

For Mom (and even Dad)

Banana Boat Ultra Defense Faces (SPF 30)

With lifelong allergies and the most sensitive skin, I’ve searched high and low for a good sunscreen I could wear on my face without irritating my skin and eyes. For most of my life I either went without protection on my face (eek!) or I used a greasy, all-purpose lotion that did the job, but wasn’t exactly my ideal choice. Finally I’ve found a product that goes on light, is oil free, sweat resistant and non-irritating. I put it on before makeup and you can’t even tell it’s there. Ultra Defense Faces retails for about $10 for a 3oz tube and is available at most retailers nationwide

Some key features you can find with this product: enriched with vitamins and complete with AvoTriplex technology; oil free; hypoallergenic; fragrance free; everyday protection that hydrates skin; new non-greasy formula; very water resistant; absorbs quickly; also available in SPF 15, 30 and 50 lotion and UltraMist 30, 50 and 85 for allover protection.

Coppertone NutraShield SPF 30 with Dual Defense

Along with Banana Boat’s Ultra Defense, Coppertone’s Dual Defense is another hot product that hit shelves last season. NutraSheild is my top pick for overall sun protection for the average parent because this incredibly light lotion absorbs quickly, doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind and carries a very light and pleasant fragrance. According to Coppertone’s website, it was especially designed for women to be hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores). However, I don’t see why the average dad couldn’t also benefit from using this amazing lotion. This lotion retails for about $10 for a 6oz tube and is available at retailers nationwide

Some key features you can find with this product: helps prevent premature skin aging caused by the sun; enriched with specially selected antioxidants to promote natural skin repair; appropriate for everyday use; water resistant; durable broad spectrum, photostable UVA/UVB protection; dermatologist tested; also available in SPF 70 lotion and a SPF 70 face lotion.

Sun Protection: everything you need to know

Spring has sprung and here in Texas temperatures are hovering in the high 70s. This means lots of outdoor playtime with the kids, and of course time to whip out the sunscreen. I’m sure you’re already aware of the importance of sunscreen, so I won’t lecture you on that aspect. But, while we all know we should use sunscreen, it turns out most people aren’t using it properly. In fact, studies have shown that most people don’t use nearly enough sunscreen for adequate protection.

To make sure you and your kids are covered for the summer, I put together a simple tip sheet to get your started.

1. Thorough and frequent application is essential. According to Coppertone Solar Research Center fellow Patricia Agin, a product’s SPF rating is determined by controlled laboratory-based testing. Therefore, if the sunscreen is not used properly the protection level decreases accordingly. Put simply: if you’re not applying generously and frequently, you’re not getting the full SPF on the label.

2. Applying sunscreen in the morning is not enough protection, no matter which product you use. Experts tend to agree that sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours, and even more frequently after swimming or excessive perspiration. And, just because a sunscreen is “water proof” or carries a high SPF rating doesn’t mean you don’t need to reapply.

3. The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommends using at least 1 ounce or enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass to maintain the SPF level. What this means is that an average person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle during a long day at the beach.

4. It takes time. Most sunscreens take 20-30 minutes to be fully absorbed into the skin, so make sure to check the label and be patient when necessary.

5. Don’t forget the often missed spots. Make sure to use sunscreen on the ears, tops of feet, neck and hair part, as well as a lip balm with SPF protection.

6. Children need extra protection. Not only do children have more delicate skin, but they also spend more time in the sun than the average adult. Before your child becomes a teenager and develops the desire to tan, it’s important to protect him while you can. By using a high-level sun protection in the early years, you can set the tone for good skin care and reduce the risk of skin cancer and other damaging effects from the sun.

In addition to sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and specially-designed SPF clothing can dramatically reduce the effects of sun without compromising comfort or style.

7. Young babies need protection too. In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics has discouraged the use of sunscreen on infants under the age of 6 months. That’s changed. They still recommend using proper shade and avoiding the sun when possible, but they also say that: “for babies under 6 months of age, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body such as the face and the backs of the hands if adequate clothing and shade are not available.” They suggest testing the sunscreen on a small area of the back for sensitivity.

8. Tackling the kids with SPF doesn’t have to ruin the day. There is a wide range of products available for kids, including manual and continuous sprays, SPF wipes, sticks and traditional lotions. It might take a little trial and error, but the trick is to find a product that is easy to apply AND the kids don’t hate. For babies and toddlers it may be easier to apply sunscreen before you get them dressed and then reapply with a SPF spray every hour.

KINeSYS recommends allowing each person in the family to claim ownership of their own bottle of sunscreen and getting involved when it comes time to apply. “We have found the most effective way to promote sunscreen use in kids is to let them be part of the process,” they say. “In general, if sunscreen application time is fun and not forced, this makes it much easier to protect sensitive skin.”

9. Know when to toss the bottle. I used to think sunscreen needed to be replaced every year. Come to find out, that’s not actually the case. Energizer Personal Care, of which Banana Boat is a brand, says the active ingredients in most sunscreens are actually very stable, even under stressed storage conditions. However, it’s the inactive ingredients such as the lotions and bonding materials that might deteriorate similar to the way salad dressing separates over time. Their recommendation is to toss a sunscreen that has passed its expiration date or if it’s texture is compromised.


Review Disclaimer: These are not scientific reviews to test the effectiveness of protection or the integrity of ingredients—we simply looked for the best feeling and easiest to use products.

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