A few pointers below before we get to the actual sunscreens. *Sorry, this is an ulta long post, but it’s because I’m trying to be really helpful!!!
A word on “mineral” sunscreen (which is what many Moms aim to use)
There are essentially two groups when it comes to sunscreen – physical (commonly called mineral or natural) and chemical. Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays. They contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which is what gives them that ulta-sexy pasty white appearance (usually). Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand (the most traditional ones you see, like Coppertone and Banana Boat for instance), actually absorb into your skin like a sponge. A chemical reaction (created by the chemical compounds in the main ingredients) work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin.
Now, both physical and chemical sunscreens prevent your baby (or you!) from burning and lowering your risk of skin cancer, you don’t need me to tell you that. However, there are some questionable ingredients found in chemical sunscreens, which is why many Moms opt for physical. I will not scare you with the details, but The EWG is a great resources if you want to know more. The Environmental Working Group rates products (not just sunscreen) on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being the safest and 10 being basically…..really bad. You can type in any product you use and get it’s score. I do not recommend looking up something you love that you know is not natural, fair warning.
A word on the 6 month rule
According to the AAP, ideally you should wait until your baby is 6 months old to use sunscreen, because their skin is so sensitive. Instead, cover their heads with hats, their bodies with blankets, or keep them in the shade, in a stroller, etc. It’s easier than it sounds (and this is coming from someone whose baby was born in the NYC summer and then moved to LA – kid has literally never been out of sun). Here is a picture of Teddy living his best shade life on the beach circa 6 weeks old.
A word on Vitamin D deficiencies
This is a real thing. People go so FREAKIN nuts with sunscreen that as many as 70% of kids actually have a vitamin D deficiency, which has its own host of problems. I am not suggesting you and your baby lay out on lawn chairs, lubed up with tanning oil (remember doing that? No, just me?). But if you’re running to Target at 9 AM, you probably don’t need to lather your kid in head to toe SPF 50. Use your best judgement.
And without further ado, the SUNSCREEN SMACKDOWN RESULTS:
Least Favorite: Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
EWG Score: 1
Consistency: White, chalky, really hard to rub in.
Smell: Horrible (in my opinion) – like really sweet and gross. I’m trying not to be mean.
Overall: Incredibly safe option, but with all the trapping of a physical sunscreen and a baby sunscreen – pricey, chalky, hard to rub in and with a sickly sweet smell. I don’t know why it’s called “clear” because it def is not.
Also Do Not Love: Babyganics Pure Mineral Sunscreen Stick – SPF 50+
EWG Score: 1
Consistency: Well, it’s a stick. White and hard to rub in.
Overall: I don’t dislike it as much as Babo, but I also really hate sticks for babies. If you watched our Instagram Live, Jenn explained they are awesome for KIDS because they can grab it and put it on themselves without making a mess. But rubbing a hard stick on a baby’s face is just….no. Also, despite having a EWG score of 1, Babyganics does have a few ingredients I don’t love, if you’re a real stickler for that.
Good, Not Great: Alba Botanica Kids Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
EWG Score: 2
Consistency: Very easy to apply & does not leave any white residue.
Overall: This was my go-to before I discovered the WINNER below. The EWG score is fine, not amazing. Alba does contain some chemical compounds. Listen, if you’re not tied to having the most natural possible product on earth, this is an excellent and safe option at a good price. It’s also great if you really hate scent and want something fragrance free.
Honorable Mention: BeautyCounter – Countersun Mineral Lotion SPF 30
EWG Score: 1
Consistency: Easier than most physical sunscreens to apply, not QUITE as easy as ThinkBaby but super close. Does not leave residue.
Overall: The only reason this one doesn’t win is because it’s so much more freakin expensive than the others. To be fair, this sunscreen is designed for the whole family, not just babies, which partially explains the price (it’s also a larger volume of product than some of the others). It’s very safe, smells great, and doesn’t have a lot of the trapping of physical sunscreens. This is one I use for myself, amongst others.
WINNER: Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+
EWG Score: 1
Consistency: Slides on super smooth and leaves no residue.
Smell: Great – fresh and summery, not overpowering.
Overall: ThinkBaby wins because it checks EVERY box – it’s inexpensive, incredibly safe, high SPF, smells awesome, and is easy to apply. After testing so many….this is definitely the one Teddy will be using going forward.
What baby sunscreens do you love? What questions do you have about baby sunscreen I didn’t address? Hit us up in the comments!