The Best Sunscreen for Babies with Sensitive Skin

The Best Sunscreen for Babies with Sensitive Skin

If your baby has sensitive skin, even the best baby sunscreens can cause a rash.

My daughter, Poppy, certainly has this problem which has made warm-weather vacations with her a challenge, especially when she was younger. We love the beach, though, so I've tried dozens of sunscreens for babies with sensitive skin.

It’s been a long road, but here are six of the gentlest baby sunscreens that didn’t cause a rash (or sunburn).

TL;DR: Want to spare yourself the research rabbit-hole Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ is the best sensitive baby sunscreen available. Get it on Amazon here

How To Choose A Baby Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin

While all baby sunscreens are formulated to be easy on the skin, it’s not uncommon for babies with sensitivities to react to otherwise “mild” baby products.

Opt for Mineral Sunscreens. Sunscreens that rely on non-nano minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) as active ingredients sit on the outermost layer of the skin, rather than being absorbed into it creating a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. Many baby sunscreens contain a blend of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (compared to nasty chemicals, both minerals are far less likely to cause irritation), but it’s possible to find some that only use one.

  • Zinc oxide has soothing properties and is a common ingredient in diaper rash creams. With an edge over titanium dioxide, it’s significantly better at blocking UVA rays. It’s considered non-allergenic and non-comedogenic (doesn’t block pores) but some people might still experience irritation.
  • Titanium dioxide isn’t quite as effective at providing broad spectrum protection, but is still preferable to chemical ingredients. If your baby is sensitive to zinc oxide, a titanium dioxide only sunscreen might be an option.

 

Both these minerals leave a white cast after application.

Look for Simple Ingredients. Even “natural” sunscreens sometimes contain irritants or chemicals. Although these are usually inactive ingredients, they’ll still be touching your baby’s skin, so check the ingredients out. Shorter ingredient lists with easily recognizable names generally leave the least room for error.

Skip the Fragrance. We all want our babies to smell like, well, babies. Unfortunately, the same “baby” smell most of us are accustomed to comes from artificial fragrances – a leading cause of skin irritation.

Go for Broad Spectrum Protection. Your baby’s sunscreen needs to deliver broad spectrum protection. This means that your little one’s skin will be protected from both UVB (burning) rays and UVA (aging) rays.

Choose a Water Resistant Formula. A water-resistant sunscreen will work to keep your baby protected while she makes a splash or breaks a sweat. Even water-resistant sunscreens need to be reapplied regularly, however (typically once every 40 – 80 minutes and following every swim).

Don’t Forget the SPF. Following all the pointers mentioned above should bring you closer to finding the perfect baby sunscreen for sensitive skin, but don't forget to look for an a SPF of at least 15. A higher SPF value usually indicates longer efficacy. However, in 2012 the FDA made it plain that any sunscreen boasting a SPF exceeding 50+ is simply stretching the truth.

Pinpointing the exact cause of skin irritation can be tough (is it the sand? A food that your baby isn’t used to eating? A new soap? Sunscreen?), perform a patch test 48 hours before use. You may have to try out different sunscreens.

The Best Baby Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin


Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+, 3oz

Popularity:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Sun Protection:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Non-sticky:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Average:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This took the top spot overall, and remains our favorite baby sunscreen, even for sensitive skin. Clean ingredients, a SPF value of 50+, and a smoother consistency than most, it sets the bar high. If EWG ratings are important to you, win! It scores a perfect 1.

Pros

  • Free of harmful chemicals and other known irritants, making it a great option for sensitive skin.
  • Boasts the highest SPF on our list.
  • Contains 20% of non-nano zinc oxide to keep delicate skin well protected.
  • Leaves less of a white residue than similar formulas. (We also love that this company makes no bones about the fact that mineral sunscreens can and do leave a white cast.)
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Cons

  • Not everyone is a fan of the natural papaya scent.
  • Somewhat pricey for a 3oz. tube, but not shockingly so.
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30

Popularity:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Sun Protection:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Non-sticky:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Average:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Offering a stellar line-up of certified organic ingredients, 18.75% non-nano zinc oxide, and decent water-resistance, this natural sunscreen could very well have taken first place if it was a little easier to spread. Boasts an excellent EWG rating of 1.

Pros

  • Contains a mere handful of easy-to-recognize, skin-friendly ingredients. We especially love the addition of soothing chamomile and calendula extract.
  • Hypoallergenic formula is pediatrician approved and safe for sensitive skin.
  • Water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.
  • All ingredients are 100% biodegradable and reef safe.

Cons

  • Thick cream can be difficult to spread.
  • Like many natural sunscreens, it's prone to separating. Kneading the bottle before using helps.
Sunblocz Baby and Kids Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

Popularity:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Sun Protection:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Non-sticky:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Price:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Average:3.9 out of 5 stars (3.9 / 5)

Pricier, but 100% natural, easy on sensitive skin, and highly protective. A great choice if you're looking for a pediatrician and dermatologist approved sunscreen that doesn't compromise on sun protection. Scores a fantastically low EWG rating of 1.

Pros

  • Packs a serious sun protection punch with a whopping 24.5% of non-nano zinc oxide and a SPF value of 50.
  • All natural ingredients are safe and gentle on delicate skin.
  • Lavender and rosemary oils double as bug repellent.
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Cons

  • Thick and difficult to squeeze out of the tube.
  • Separates and requires kneading before using.
  • Expensive.
Miami Cool Kids Organic SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick

Popularity:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Sun Protection:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Non-sticky:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Price:2 out of 5 stars (2.0 / 5)
Average:3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5)

Like many moms, I usually shy away from sunscreen sticks simply because they tend to be dry and difficult to apply. This one, however, seems to be the exception and it's loaded with skin-friendly organic ingredients too. Great size for on-the-go use, but a bit pricey.

Pros

  • Contains no chemicals, toxins, or known irritants.
  • Made with nourishing organic ingredients like avocado oil, cocoa butter, and calendula extract.
  • Water-resistant for approximately 40 minutes.
  • Easy to apply and doesn't leave an overly thick white residue.

Cons

  • Surprisingly small for the price.
  • When it comes to figuring out what exactly “natural flavor” is, we can only speculate (but at least we know it's “natural”…)
  • Not recognized by the EWG, but the ingredients look pretty darn good.
Tender Sprouts Organic All-Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 35

Popularity:3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
Sun Protection:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Non-sticky:2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
Price:3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
Average:3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Although it's not nearly as popular as some others on our list, we feel that this gentle sunscreen’s ingredients speak for themselves. If your baby has a coconut allergy or reacts to other sunscreens for whatever reason, this is an option worth trying.

Pros

  • Contains only 6 (natural) ingredients, all of which are safe, easy to recognize and highly unlikely to cause irritation.
  • With 25% non-nano zinc oxide, it provides dependable broad spectrum protection.
  • Reef and wildlife safe.

Cons

  • Thick consistency can be tough to apply.
  • Separates so much that just getting it out of the tube feels like a chore.
  • Makes no mention of being water-resistant, but it seems to stay on while swimming, nevertheless.
  • Not listed on the EWG website, but the individual ingredients are easy enough to look up.
California Baby Super Sensitive Baby Sunscreen

Popularity:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Sun Protection:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Non-sticky:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Price:1 out of 5 stars (1.0 / 5)
Average:2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it's thick and difficult to spread. No, it's NOT certified organic, although all the ingredients are listed as organic. So what's the deal? Well, it's the only sunscreen that's made with titanium dioxide only. If your baby has a zinc sensitivity, this could be a winner.

Pros

  • Free of chemicals, toxins, and allergens.
  • Low EWG rating of 1.
  • Comes highly recommended by allergists and dermatologists for babies and adults with severe sensitivities.
  • Highly water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Cons

  • Titanium dioxide doesn't perform quite as well as zinc oxide when it comes to blocking UVA rays.
  • Thick and tacky.
  • Might stain clothes.
  • Expensive.

And there you go – six truly gentle, all natural baby sunscreens for sensitive skin.

Although a couple aren't listed on the EWG website, these have simple ingredients that are a snap to look up individually. In fact, if your little one breaks out at the drop of a hat, we urge you to do so with ANY baby sunscreen you might be considering.

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