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As a new Mom, I would often spend extra money on products that I thought would be the safest for my kids. As a California family who loves the beach and the water, finding the safest sunscreen for kids was no exception.
The FDA recommends regularly applying sunblock to kids and babies six months and older and most families will go through three bottles of sunscreen or more on a two-week vacation.
I would often gravitate to brands with organic in the title. Of course, “Babyganics” would only provide the best possible protection for my little ones, right?
Another well-known baby brand, Badger makes a sunscreen for kids that is wildly popular in the crowded beaches of San Diego. California Kids and Blue Lizard are also popular kids sunscreen brands that we have used.
I probably would have gone on using these cute sounding, Organic-y brands until the sun went down until I received a copy of Consumer Reports Safest Sunscreen Brands last summer. I was honestly shocked, SHOCKED to read that Babyganics, the most commonly used sunscreen brand at most of the beaches I frequent was third from the bottom of 82 sunscreens analyzed by consumer reports for UVA protection, SPF and Variation from SPF, which is a measure of how closely a sunscreen’s tested SPF matched the SPF on the label.
The Least Safe Sunscreens for Kids
The study found that out of 82 sunscreens analyzed, 32 tested at less than half their labeled SPF. As a beach-loving mama of babies, that number is straight-up terrifying.
My beloved, cutely bottled Babyganics rated only 22 out of a total possible score of 100 and rated “poor “in the categories of SPF and variation from SPF.
Other popular brands marketed to toddlers and babies such as Badger and ThinkBaby also received the lowest possible marks for SPF and variation of SPF.
Blue Lizard, a cult favorite, scored well on variation of SPF, but received a low mark on UVA protection.
What Is the Safest Sunscreen For Kids?
After flopping down on my armchair disheartened by the many years I may have spent not protecting my kids the way I thought I was, I poured a big glass of wine and got right down to it. According to Consumer Reports, the safest sunscreen brands are as follows:
Priciest Pick: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk
This sunscreen holds the number one spot on the list. It scores excellent marks across all categories.
The only downside is the cost. At $7.20/ounce a bottle will run you around $36. It seems like an ideal choice for millionaires or people who live underground and only occasionally see the sun. You can buy La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk here.
Gel-Based: BullFrog Land Sport Quik Gel SPF 50 sunscreen
This sunscreen receives the highest marks across the board and it’s much more affordable at $2.60/ounce or about $10/bottle.
The downside? It’s flammable. Also, it’s a gel which isn’t always the easiest substance to apply on children who are trying to shimmy away from you as you grease them down. If you want to try it out, you can buy BullFrog Land Sport Quik Gel SPF 50 sunscreen here.
Pregnant Mom Warning: Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70 sunscreen
Now we’re talking. This sunscreen received very high marks across categories and is also affordable at about $10/bottle and has a very light scent which makes it a great sunscreen for kids. Warning for pregnant moms: It does contain retinyl or retinol palmitate, which pregnant moms may want to avoid. You can buy Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70 sunscreen here.
Best Value: Equate (Walmart) Ultra Lotion SPF 50 sunscreen
I will admit I was surprised to see Equate (a Walmart brand) listed as the third safest sunscreen for kids, but at just $6.98 a bottle this sunscreen scored the highest marks across the board and Consumer Reports could not find any flaws.
I guess I know which sunscreen I will be stocking up on for our beach adventures this summer. You can buy Walmart’s Equate Ultra Lotion SPF 50 sunscreen here. Not only will I save about $5/pop compared to my previous standby’s, Babyganics and Blue Lizard, but my kids will be better protected, and I will be able to drink my margarita at ease knowing that they are safe. Oh wait, they still don’t know how to swim…Nevermind, no one will relax fully at the pool or beach for at least five more years, but at least we can check sunburns off our worry list!
Happy Beaching, Mamas!