boy wearing glasses and a hat smiling in the sun
Photo: @k.sebe.nezgno via Twenty20

13 Kid-Friendly Sunscreens the Whole Family Can Use

There isn’t a kid in the world who likes sunscreen: the feel of it, the putting-on of it, the sting of it when the inevitable trace slips into sensitive eyes. But every parent knows that sunscreen is the first line of defense against painful, vacation-ruining sunburn. To make sure your next family trip is smooth sailing (at least on the skin-care front), we’ve put together a list of no-fail sunscreens, sun creams, and sunscreen lotions for the whole family: babies, kids, teens, and grown-ups.

CeraVe Mineral Baby Sunscreen SPF 45

CeraVe is a superstar of the drugstore skin-care aisle, thanks to its dermatologist-approved, affordably priced product line. CeraVe Mineral Baby Sunscreen uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—two minerals that prevent the sun from entering the skin and wreaking havoc—and is free of fragrances, sulfates, parabens, and other potential irritants. Instead, it’s pumped with nourishing ceramides and hyaluronic acid for lots of extra love. Past buyers report the sunblock’s success with infants on Caribbean family vacations and with toddlers in triple-digit Texas heat. 

ATTITUDE Sensitive Skin, Hypoallergenic Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30

With an ingredient list dominated by zinc oxide (20%) and a stamp of approval from EWG, the gentle toxin-free ATTITUDE Sensitive Skin sunscreen lotion is an excellent mineral pick. The vegan formula is laced with colloidal oatmeal, a natural soother that fights itch, irritation, and dryness. There is a somewhat sticky application process (common for mineral, aka physical, sunscreens), but most fans find this a small price to pay for an eco-friendly product that deflects UVA and UVB sunlight from delicate skin.

Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

Conduct a quick online search for Thinkbaby sunscreen, and you’ll soon find hundreds of reviews raving about the chemical-free, reef-safe substance. Like most physical sunscreens, it’s thick and white and takes a touch of elbow grease to apply; even so, it spreads easily, feels lightweight, and—best of all—serves as a strong safeguard against the sun. Vegetable glycerin, jojoba oil, and olive oil add a healthy dose of moisture to one of the best sunscreens for kids.

Australian Gold Little Joey SPF Continuous Spray Lotion

If you want to dive into summer feeling free from smothering sunblock, the hypoallergenic Australian Gold Little Joey continuous spray sunscreen lotion is a simple way to go. Its cool mist and quick-to-dry finish take the pain out of the putting-on process, and its squad of sunscreens—avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene—derails damaging rays. Aloe and glycerin keep skin soft, not slimy.

Adorable Baby by Loving Naturals All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30

Here’s something unusual in the world of sunscreens for kids: Adorable Baby By Loving Naturals sunblock for kiddos has nothing but ingredients you can pronounce on the first try. Zinc oxide tops the all-natural list at nearly 25%, while supporting players include moisturizing oils (grapeseed and sunflower), butters (cocoa and shea), and beeswax. People love that it goes on totally clear, though some find the texture on the slick side.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen

Neutrogena has been a skin-care go-to for decades, and with good reason. The brand makes one of the best sunscreens for kids on the market, with a mild formula that protects the most vulnerable skin from harsh UV damage. Mineral sunscreens are universally trickier to rub in than their chemical counterparts, but fans find that Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen blends in with little difficulty. Water resistant up to 80 minutes, the drugstore sunscreen for kids has been granted the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance (CeraVe, too).

Waxhead Baby Sunscreen Lotion for Kids and Infants

In addition to water resistance and solid broad-spectrum protection, Waxhead Baby Sunscreen has all natural and organic ingredients—just zinc oxide, spring water, olive oil, beeswax, and vitamins E and D3—to nix any chance of aggravation on young skin. The concoction is crazy-thick—Waxhead doesn’t use chemicals for cohesion. What this means is that you’ll need to give the bottle a little massage to mix everything up before applying. (Pro tip: Warm the lotion up in your hands first.) There is a whitish cast, yes, but in terms of nontoxic and environmentally sound sun protection, this is a slam dunk as one of the best sunscreens for kids.

Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

For many parents, Aveeno’s mineral sun cream is the best of both worlds: it offers the safety and shield-like protection of zinc, with the spreadability of a more traditional sunscreen. Added polymers give the lotion a silkier texture than many other mineral formulas, which can feel too chalky. A water resistance of up to 80 minutes makes this a great option for a day at the lake or pool. Considering the price, safety, and consistency—for many, this is the best sunscreen for kids. 

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen – Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+

Blue Lizard is something of the holy grail of mineral sunscreens. That’s because it sinks in quicker than other physicals, it’s not greasy or heavy, and it doesn’t bother sensitive skin. The fragrance- and paraben-free Blue Lizard baby sunscreen formula is strong enough to protect skin for up to 40 minutes in the water (it won’t damage coral reefs, by the way). A nifty little reminder to reapply? The Blue Lizard bottle changes color—from white to pink—in the presence of harmful UV light. 

Earth Mama Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 40 

To green beauty gurus, this water-resistant sunscreen face stick easily wins the MVP title of best sunscreens for kids, making it a perfect addition to your beach bag. This is a serious buffer that slides over skin without tugging on it. The zinc oxide stops UVA/UVB rays from infiltrating, while coconut oil hydrates and organic calendula and aloe calm sun-kissed skin.

Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby Mineral Sunscreen

Fragrance-free? Oxybenzone-free? Tear-free? Check, check, and check. This high-factor sunblock from Coppertone earns serious praise from online shoppers, who love it for its affordable price, 24% zinc formula, and staying power (the sun cream is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes).

Badger Unscented Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream

If you’re picky about clean products and your little one’s fussy about about smells, Badger’s fragrance-free sunscreen is a great fit. Clear zinc, the main active ingredient, is delivered via a creamy mix of sunflower oil, beeswax, vitamin E, and sea buckthorn (both antioxidants) that goes on white but disappears quickly. The resulting protection is like the “person gesturing no” emoji in sunscreen form.

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray

Trying to apply kids’ sunscreen on wet skin can be downright harrowing. Whether your family is enjoying a beach trip or a summer hike, Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray for kids is a fabulous item for your arsenal. The spray-on protectant works on soaked skin just as well as dry, and Neutrogena’s trademarked sunscreen technology, Helioplex, absorbs both UVA and UVB rays. The oil-free, light-as-air sunscreen for kids doesn’t feel a bit suffocating, and leaves zero residue in its wake.

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Anne Bauso
Anne is a New York-based writer, editor, and e-commerce expert with a focus on travel and hospitality. A former editor for travel sites Oyster and What to Pack (part of Tripadvisor), she has written for and appeared in Travel & Leisure, USA Today, Fashionista, Jetsetter, SmarterTravel, ABC News, Allure, Zagat, Time Out New York, and NYMag.com, among other publications.