The sunscreen you use on your kids is just as important as the sunscreen you put on yourself. And if you’re looking for a sunscreen that won’t irritate your child’s sensitive skin, then we have some recommendations to share with you.
Kids’ skin can be more sensitive than adults’, and there are specific sunscreens to look out for when shopping for a sunscreen for children with sensitive skin.
Most parents will want to opt for a sunscreen that includes gentle ingredients such as zinc oxide. You’ll also likely want to seek out a mineral formula rather than a chemical one, as well as a hypoallergenic sunscreen that’ll reduce your risks of irritants.
We’ll explain everything you need to know, digging into considerations for kids with sensitive skin, and highlighting some of our top picks as well.
What to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen for Kids with Sensitive Skin
- SPF Factor. According to American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen with a minimum SPF factor of at least 30 should be used on children. But you’ll notice that many sunscreens designed for youngsters have even higher SPF ratings like 50, 70, or even 100 SPF. Keep in mind that the difference in protection after SPF 30 is fairly minimal – it’s much more important to reapply sunscreen to your child’s skin regularly than it is to get a sunscreen with an SPF any higher than 30.
- Broad Spectrum Protection. Always look for a child-friendly sunscreen that’s broad spectrum (hint: the vast majority are). This means that the sunscreen provides sun protection from UVA and UVB rays.
- Ease of Application. For kids, it’s important to find a sunscreen that’s easy to apply, since kids don’t usually want to sit still for very long when lathering them up in sunscreen! Ideally, you’ll want a sunscreen lotion that rubs in very easily to make applying sunscreen easier. Other options for older kids include spray sunscreens or sunscreen sticks.
- Mineral vs Chemical Ingredients. There are two main types of sunscreens: mineral and chemical-based sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens use natural ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and sit on the surface of the skin to deflect and scatter UV radiation. Chemical sunscreens use organic chemicals that absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat, which is great for sun protection against UV rays, but can potentially cause skin irritation. Most sensitive skin sunscreens are mineral-based.
- Non-Cosmogenic. Non-cosmogenic sunscreens are a good choice for kids with sensitive skin, as non-cosmogenic means the sunscreen won’t clog up pores.
- Water-resistant. For children who love the water, sunscreen that is water-resistant or waterproof is a must – otherwise your kiddo won’t have lasting protection in and out of the water.
- Fragrance Free. Kids (and adults) with sensitive skin will want to look for sunscreen that has no fragrance added. This makes it more likely that the sunscreen won’t cause skin irritation.
- Oxybenzone Free. If you end up going with a chemical sunscreen, try to avoid ones containing oxybenzone, as it’s an ingredient known to be a common irritant.
- Allergy-Tested & Dermatologist-Tested. If your child has sensitive skin, it’s always best to choose hypoallergenic sunscreen that’s allergy-tested and dermatologist-tested to improve your chances that the sunscreen won’t irritate sensitive rash-prone skin.
Best Sunscreens for Kids With Sensitive Skin
1. Banana Boat Baby 100% Mineral
Banana Boat Baby 100% Mineral Sunscreen is a good choice for children due to this sunscreen’s gentle sunscreen ingredient, using naturally sourced zinc oxide for SPF 50 protection and broad spectrum coverage.
This sunscreen for kids does not contain some of the harsher ingredients you’ll find in other sunscreen brands, such as fragrances.
It also lacks chemical ingredients that can be irritating on more sensitive skin, as it’s 100% mineral sunscreen lotion.
Banana Boat Baby is tear-free and water-resistant, so it’s perfect at the pool or beach as well as for just romping around on the playground.
Designed to be safe for kiddos with sensitive skin, this sunscreen contains no oils, parabens, or fragrances.
2. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray
If you’re looking for a sunscreen that won’t irritate your child’s sensitive skin but goes on easy, Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray is a fantastic spray option.
This sunscreen is a chemical-based sunscreen and contains oxybenzone, but it’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and PABA-free, so it’s still a solid sunscreen spray that’ll likely be fine for most kids. That being said, if your child has not reacted well to oxybenzone in the past, you might want to pass on this spray.
Parents love that this SPF 70 broad spectrum spray can even be sprayed on a wet kid’s skin without issue, so you won’t need to force kids to dry off between applications!
3. Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Stick
The Aveeno Kids Sunscreen Stick is a top parent pick for when you need to cover up your kid from the sun’s rays without taking all day to do it!
This sunscreen stick contains 100% naturally sourced zinc oxide, which makes it an excellent good choice for kids with sensitive skin. It features soothing oat milk too, and it’s also free of phthalates, dyes, and parabens.
The sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it a must-have at the beach or pool. And of course as a stick sunscreen, it glides on smoothly and easily as a deodorant stick might. It doesn’t get much easier to apply than that (even to a squirming toddler).
Specifically designed for children, this SPF 50 rated stick sunscreen is hypoallergenic and fragrance free. You know you’re in good hands with Aveeno products, as they’re a dermatologist- and pediatrician-recommended skin care line.
4. Babo Botanicals Mineral Sunscreen
Babo Botanicals sunscreen is a lightweight and hypoallergenic natural sunscreen that’s another great lotion option for kids with extra sensitive skin.
Made from mineral ingredients such as non-nano zinc oxide, this sunscreen ensures optimal protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays for broad spectrum sunscreen protection, all without any icky chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate.
It’s water resistant too, making it perfect for all outdoor activities and beach trips.
5. Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen
If you’re looking for a sunscreen for kids that will protect your child’s skin without irritating it, Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen is a solid pick from Coppertone that can even be found at drugstores.
It contains gentle ingredients, boasts an SPF 50 rating, and is mineral-based with zinc oxide. Plus, it contains botanical bonuses like tea leaf, sea kelp, and lotus extracts.
Coppertone’s gentle dermatologist-tested formula is also free of PABA, parabens, dyes, fragrances, alcohols, phthalates, alcohol, and sulphates, so it’s ultra-gentle. There’s no oxybenzone in this formula either!
As a great all-around formula, this is a popular sunscreen for adults with sensitive skin too!
6. BLUE LIZARD Mineral Sunscreen Kids Spray
Blue Lizard is known as a well-regarded and trusted sunscreen brand, and their Blue Lizard Mineral Sunscreen Kids Spray is no different!
With broad spectrum sunscreen protection and a SPF 50 rating, it’s no surprise that they’re touted as the #1 pediatrician recommended mineral-based sunblock brand.
This Blue Lizard sunscreen comes in a spray form, which makes it easier to apply evenly on a wiggling kid without leaving behind any oily residue. It’s safe for face and body, so you can apply it all over.
This sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen made with the active ingredient zinc oxide, which offers all-around protection from both types of harmful UV rays. As a mineral sunscreen, it also contains no oxybenzone or octinoxate, which can cause allergic reactions in some kiddos.
And yes, this zinc oxide sunscreen for kids is fragrance-free and paraben free too! We also love that it’s made with an earth-friendly propellant – always a nice bonus!
7. Alba Botanica Kids Sunscreen Spray
Alba Botanica Kids Sunscreen Spray is a kid-friendly sunscreen for easily-irritated youngsters, as it’s made with gentle, non-irritating botanical ingredients.
As a spray form of sunscreen, this Alba Botanica spray is quick and easy to use, covering kiddos in a layer of sun protectorate without requiring a lot of rubbing.
With broad spectrum protection and an SPF 50 rating it provides all essential sun-stopping power. It’s also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and coral reef friendly.
Plus, it doesn’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate. This sunscreen is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, making it a great option for parents looking for a safe and effective sunscreen for their kids.
8. Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Kids Mineral Sunscreen is another one of the best sunscreens for kids with easily irritated skin. This sunscreen lotion has been developed to be gentler and less irritating than other formulas, relying on naturally-sourced zinc oxide in a tear-free formula for kids who are prone to getting sunscreen in their eyes.
This sunscreen contains broad spectrum UV protection with an SPF 50 rating, but is gentle enough to use on children with sensitive skin. It’s water resistant up to 80 minutes, so it won’t stand in the way of pool fun!
It’s also fragrance-free, paraben-free, dye-free, and dermatologist recommended. This one’s a good option to look for in drugstores too, and it’s pretty affordable!
FAQs About Sunscreen for Kids with Sensitive Skin
Why do kids have more sensitive skin than adults?
Children’s skin can be more sensitive than adults because their skin is still developing – children’s skin is thinner than that of adults and has less natural oil, which makes it more susceptible to dryness and irritation. On top of that, children’s immune systems are still developing, making them more sensitive to the environment and the sun’s rays in general.
Is sunscreen spray better to use on kids than lotion?
Yes and no. On one hand, many parents appreciate how much more convenient sunscreen spray is – it sprays on quickly and easily!
On the other hand, sunscreen sprays can potentially be inhaled into the lungs – while the science is still out on how dangerous this is, it’s certainly a risk best avoided.
The other issue with spray sunscreen is that they are often not rubbed in properly or are not sprayed evenly across the body. It can be hard to see what areas of the body have been sprayed and which have not, making sunscreen spray notorious for subpar reapplication. With sunscreen lotions, it’s much easier to see which areas have been missed and to make sure sunscreen is applied evenly.
Can I use sunscreen for kids?
Yes, there’s no reason why adults can’t use sunscreen marketed towards children. If it’s safe for your child’s sensitive skin, it should be great for your skin as well!
The only important factor to consider is that many sunscreens for kids don’t worry about white cast as much, since that’s more of an adult concern. So if you do use your kids’ sunscreen in a pinch, don’t be surprised if you end up looking a bit more pale than usual!
Can sunscreen be used on babies under 6 months old?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend using sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old. The reasoning behind this is that young children with thinner skin can be more susceptible to side effects of certain sunscreens, like rashes.
While this is largely an issue with chemical sunscreens rather than mineral natural sunscreens, it’s still important to consult with your pediatrician before putting any sunscreen on an infant.
What are sunscreen ingredients that are safe for babies and young children with sensitive skin?
Sunscreen ingredients that are considered safe for babies and young children with sensitive skin are mineral sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin and physically deflect harmful UV rays, rather than being absorbed into the skin like chemical sunscreen ingredients.
This means they’re less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. However, you’ll still always want to talk with your pediatrician before starting up with sunscreen, to be safe.
We hope this has proved a helpful resources for those who are looking for sunscreen products that will work well on your kids with sensitive skin. Most of the picks we’ve highlighted above are mineral-based sunscreens, making them safe options for kids.
If you need more information about sunscreen ingredient or are unsure about sunscreen safety standards for youngsters, you can ask you pediatrician for more details!