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Sunscreen Swaps: the Best Picks for Children

Currently, my husband and I are spending the week in Vegas. I’m not into the casino scene, but we are having such an amazing time together. I’m convinced that you can have the time of there life wherever they are, if you’re with your Person. We got to put this to the test when our flight in was bumped, and we chilled at the airport all day…and had a ball. I’ve always been a big believer that you can make extraordinary memories from the most ordinary of days, and so far, life has proven that to be true.

Meanwhile, Vegas is literally hotter than crawling into an oven, and now all those crimes on CSI make so much more sense. People are probably going crazy from the heat! Surprisingly, we adapted to the weather pretty quickly (read: we stay inside/poolside), and I’ve been pile on a bottle of sunscreen per day to protect my oh so fair skin from this desert sun. That’s an exaggeration…but just barely.

If you’ve read my post/rant about sunscreens for adults, you know I find the whole shebang about toxic ingredients in our sunscreen incredibly infuriating. The fact that well-meaning parents are unknowingly slathering carcinogenic ingredients on their children makes me want to go postal-pants for them. You would think we would be able to rely on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to oh, I don’t know, KEEP US SAFE, but au contraire, mon ami. The vast majority of sunscreens are anything but safe for your skin. They contain both toxic and carcinogenic ingredients that are harmful to both children and adults.

According to the EWG, the Food and Drug Administration does not set any criteria or additional requirements for sunscreen and body care products marketed to children. In fact, the EWG has not identified any systematic differences between the types of products marketed to children and the general population.

Children Are Not Mini Adults

So why is this such a big deal? Skin is skin, whether on an adult or child, right? Nope. Children are not mini adults, and they are more susceptible to environmental threats. What is toxic for you as an adult is even more potent for the neonatal and pediatric populace. This is due to several factors:

  1. Due to their size, babies and kiddos have what we call “a lower dosing weight.” We all have that teeny tiny friend who cannot handle more than two glasses of wine (I’m more of a by the bottle kind of girl myself).
  2. Children metabolize ingredients differently than adults (and yes, ingredients are absorbed into the body through skin.) This is why you don’t give a child the same amount of Tylenol when he’s sick as you would give yourself.
  3. Children have a different surface area to volume ratio than adults. The body’s surface area is a measurement of the skin that covers your body, and although children are smaller than adults, the ratio of surface area to mass is much larger for babies and children than for adults. I know this sounds like a boring math class, but basically this surface area to volume ratio means our little ones have a dramatically higher absorption rate and reaction than adults.
  4. Children are in a dynamic state of growth and development, meaning their little bodies are continuously developing. Many toxins actively interfere with healthy neurological and physiological maturation.

So now that we got that depressing bit out of information out the way, here is the good news: There are numerous healthy options you can use to protect your child from exposure to both sun and toxins.

Because children are particularly susceptible to certain toxic chemicals during developmental years, the EWG scrutinized children’s sunscreens even more closely in 2017.

Worst Sunscreens for Kids

The EWG specifically named the following brands for earning the worst scores, though other popular brands also received low scores. I’d encourage you to check out their full list, but here are the “winners” for the lowest scores.

  • Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray Kids, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Water Babies, SPF 70+
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Kids, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Water Babies, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Sunscreen Water Babies Foaming Lotion, SPF 70
  • CVS Health Children’s Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
  • Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Sticks, SPF 55 (8)

Best Sunscreens for Kids and Babies

Here is the list of kid friendly sunscreens that you can use to protect your little ones:

Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 30
All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 50
Babytime! by Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
Bare Republic Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby, SPF 30+
BurnOut KIDS Sunscreen, SPF 35
California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Caribbean Sol Sol Kid Kare, SPF 30
Goddess Garden Organics Baby Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Kiss My Face Organics Kids Sunscreen, SPF 30
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50
Sunology Natural Sunscreen Kids, SPF 50
Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sunscreen, SPF 40
ThinkSport Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50+
Tom’s of Maine Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30

Summertime is such a fun season for children, and many of my favorite memories revolved around family vacations and beach trips during those long summer months. Although sunscreen should be a product we use all year, it’s even more important during the months when children are running around playing in shorts and tees and swimsuits. Make sure you stock up on a safe, nontoxic sunscreen, and don’t forget to apply it on yourself and your little one about 30 minutes before going out into the sunlight. Play in the shade whenever possible, and reapply frequently during pool time or sports. Most importantly, remember that summer flies by, so make memories and have fun in the sun.

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