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A Review of the Five Best Sunscreens that are Safe for Both You & Your Child

By (view all posts by Susan.Yoo-Lee)
at 12:55PM Monday July 11, 2011
under Loose Change

It's that time of the year again.  The kids are on summer break, the weather is hot and you are doing more things outdoors.  So what does this mean?  More exposure to the sun.

While the sun is always out 365 days a year, it seems that exposure to the sun increases in the summer months.  And the most dangerous hours to be out in the sun is between 10-4pm.  I don't know about you, but that's a huge chunk of time that my children want to do all things outdoors.  Whether it's swimming, taking a small trip to the beach, running around in the park --it usually falls between those hazardous hours.

So how do you decide what sunscreen will be the best one for your child?  
While staying indoors is the ideal situation, that's not possible for most children and probably not the most healthiest option.  If you decide that you are going to be outdoors during those hours, it's best to get a great all-in-one sun protection.  And for infants under 6 months of age, it's recommended that they don't have any sun exposure and that sunscreen should not be applied either.

Acronyms like SPF, UVA and UVB can make the process of choosing the right sunscreen overwhelming.  No need to worry, read Amy's post about new FDA sunscreen regulations, where she takes out the gibberish in sunscreen and breaks it down so that you understand what everything means.

Then check out EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (my go-to place before I buy anything skin-related), then it's time to hit the stores or check out the products online.  I personally suggest you go to the stores because more than likely you can test out the sunscreen to see if you like how it smells and feels on the skin (Whole Foods always has a tester).

If you don't have a list yet, I have five sunscreens that you can't go wrong with. They all have an EWG Skin Deep safety rating of 1 or 2 which means they're very safe to use, an SPF over 30 and most importantly, they offer effective protection (I've tried all of them).

  1. Episecial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 -  I was first enticed to buy this product at Whole Foods when the big happy sun pictured on the packaging caught my daughter's attention.  We recently used this sunscreen for my friend's Fourth of July pool party.  It went on smoothly, almost like lotion and the white disappeared almost immediately.  After 4 hours of swimming during the ray's most harmful hours, we didn't have a single red spot or burn.  Retails for $14.99.

  2. California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion - We've been using this sunscreen since I had my first born.  I first started using it because it was fragrance free, PABA-free and chemical free.  While it does go on thick and leave a white cast (use sparingly), I've learned over the years that sunscreens that do have a white cast have a higher sun protection, so it's a good thing!  Retails for $19.99 for a 2.9 oz. tube.

  3. Badger SPF 30+ Unscented Sunscreen - Being a big fan of the Badger Baby Balm, I received a big gift basket that had an assortment of Badger products right before I had my second child.  The Badger sunscreen is just as great as the balm (our own Mrs. Money also likes the sunscreen).  It uses an uncoated, non-nano zinc oxide and has a great UVA/UVB broad-spectrum coverage.  Before you apply your first coat, you must knead the tube or you will get a good oily squirt.  It goes on smoothly, even though it appears white at first.  Retails for $16 (on sale for $13.60).

  4. Dr. Robin for Kids Chemical Free Sunscreen for Kids, SPF 30+ - I was first drawn to this sunscreen because of the packaging. Developed by a doctor and a mother of 2, I knew that the product had to be good (If the doctor is going to use it on her own children, you know it has to be top-notch).  Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's free of chemicals, phthalates, parabens, and fragrances.  I loved that my skin could breath when I applied the sunscreen (this is usually not the case with most sunscreens).  Like the other sunscreens I recommended, it does come on white, but it does fade within time.  Retails for $24.

  5. thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 30+ - A sunscreen that supports a cause.  While a portion of your purchase is donated to fight cancer, that's not the only reason why I think this sunscreen is great.  Like the other four sunscreens that I mentioned above, it has great UVA/UVB broad-spectrum coverage, water resistant, free of harmful chemicals and is top-rated in EWG's database.  But what I love about this sunscreen is that it glides on smoothly, it's not oily and smells really good.  Retails for $15.99.

Finding the right sunscreen takes research and some trial and error.  Not everyone like the same texture, smell, or how it looks on.  If price is a factor, buy a good sunscreen for less on sites like Amazon and Drugstore.com (they always have great markdowns).   Make sure you and your children are protected this summer!

What sunscreens do you like or don't like? Does the white cast from physical sunblocks bother you?