There are countless new worries you encounter as a new parent. An inevitable aspect of parenthood is being concerned about products and activities that your parents never gave even a moment’s thought, one of the biggies being the sunscreen applied over and over in the warmer months.
Early baby boomer parents rarely put sunscreen on their kids, while late boomers and Gen Xers relied on mass marketed brands that were easy to apply on squirmy kids. Once we began learning about clean beauty and choosing skincare with some trutworthy certifications like: B Corp, Environmental Working Group (EWG), or Ecocert Certified we reconsidered the sunblock we slather on our children and grandchildren. Additionally, we wondered…
What the heck is SPF?
How old should little ones be before using sunscreen?
Is it toxic if they get some in their mouth?
How do I find an eco friendly kids sunscreen?
If you’d like answers to these and other sunscreen questions, we got you and your kiddos covered…head to toe.
Babies, sun, and sunscreen
The esteemed EWG is a great source for tips about lots of things, including when and how to introduce your baby to sunlight:
- Under six months old, babies should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Specifically, avoid direct sunlight and midday outings.
- Generally, and this is included on most children’s sunscreen bottles, children under six months old shouldn’t have sunscreen applied on their skin.
- Sunscreen frequently includes allergens, so when your baby is old enough to have sunscreen applied on their skin, test it on their wrist and wait a day to make sure no rashes appear.
- Once your chosen sunscreen has been tested, go for it! Apply generously and often to keep your baby safe from bright rays.
What is SPF?
SPF is an abbreviation of “sun protection factor”. It’s a relative number that reflects how much exposure you can have to sunlight without your skin getting burned. It’s important to remember that dermatologists agree that numbers above SPF level 50 are meaningless. Dermatologists also recommend that children, and adults, not use sunscreen with less than a 30 SPF rating. So already we’re narrowing it down.
What is water resistant sunscreen?
While there isn’t a sunscreen on the planet that’s waterproof, there are some that hold up better at pools and beaches. You should continue to apply generously and often, but look for the FDA label reading water-resistant, those should last 40-80 minutes in the water.
What kind of sunscreen is best for my child?
Back to the topic of squirmy babies and kids who are eager to do anything other than have you cover them in sunscreen…
Spray sunscreens are easy and quick, but dermatologists warn that the application may be uneven. Often spots are missed entirely.
Lotions are the most commonly available, yet the most laborious to apply. Coverage from the lotion is generally considered to be the best and most reliable, not needing additions like beeswax to keep them solid.
Stick lotions can help address the messy application issues, if you’re careful about which one you buy.
What does eco friendly kids sunscreen look like?
You may have heard the unfortunate news about coral reefs dying out around the world. That’s at least partially due to sunscreen. Every year, 14,000 tons of the sunscreen we use to protect ourselves ends up in our oceans, leaving harmful chemicals in that are devastating ecosystems. Popular beach spots around the world are banning ingredients found in conventional sunscreen that are bleaching coral, but many sunscreen brands still contain these ingredients.
When reports of sunscreen harming our oceans began emerging, many brands scrambled to release a “natural” sunscreen. But as is the case with all other products we’ve explored “natural” has no standardized meaning. The two most important things to look for when buying an eco friendly sunscreen are: a mineral-base and Oxybenzone free. In addition to being harmful to coral, Oxybenzone can negatively impact human hormones.
Our best eco friendly kids sunscreens
If you’re looking to bypass reading sunscreen ingredient labels, here are some of our tried and true favorites:
Easy peasy to apply, full of minerals, and no plastic.
As gentle as you could ask for.
The award-winning BeautyCounter strikes again with this child’s version.