Children have delicate skin so choosing the right sunscreen to keep them safe is an important task. From choosing between SPF 30 or 50 to considering whether the broad UV spectrum you've chosen is broad enough. You also might be wondering how easily you can apply it to a squirming 2-year-old, not to mention thinking about organic options. Luckily for you, we’ve looked into all of these questions and more.
We check out sun creams suitable for all children, whether your family has sensitive skin, you prefer natural ingredients, or if you’re looking for something water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about patchy sunblock when they’re in and out of the water. Our top picks, all suitable for face and body, are available to buy online in the UK from Amazon, Boots, Tesco, ASDA and others.
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Whilst creams can take a while to apply, and can leave you with a residue on your hands, they tend to be more economical - so you’ll be getting better value for money overall. They're also easier to slather on and therefore better when you're trying to ascertain how much you have applied vs how much you should be applying.
Doctors recommend that around half an ounce (half a shot glass) should be enough to cover a full body on a small child, a child nearing adult size should be using the equivalent of a full shot glass of sun cream. This quantity should be re-applied every two hours.
The roll-on is easy and quick to use so there is no extra faffing about, and the kids can get on with their fun. Also, you will have no trouble spreading this form of application, evenly.
A downside, however, is that roll-ons often come in smaller volumes (yet with bulkier packaging) that may not be sufficient for a longer holiday, so you'll need to buy and transport more in your luggage allowance. They also tend to cost more, but many feel that paying for the convenience is worth it.
Trigger-operated sprays are popular because of their convenience. They’re easy to apply and perfect for when your kids just want to run off and play. Just spray the exposed body parts, rub it in until covered, and you’re done. Obviously don't aim directly at their face and especially avoid the eye areas - squirt the product into your hand and carefully rub it into those parts.
There are some aerosol spray sunscreens out there but none made it into our top 10 as some experts have their concerns about the damage that could be caused by aerosols when they are accidentally inhaled.
Stick formulas are less common but they are useful for targeting small areas which need extra protection, such as the nose. While the other traditional sunscreens are better at covering wider areas of the body faster, stick sunscreens allow you to give more detailed attention to specific areas during application.
Unfortunately, this also results in slower application time that many children might not have the patience for. However, they stay on for longer than liquid sunscreens because they're thicker and possibly don't require such frequent re-application.
Whilst sunscreens come in many different SPF levels (15, 30 & 50+) when buying for children you should go no lower than SPF 30. This is because an SPF 30 will block out 97% of all UVB rays which, fingers crossed, will help prevent the effects of sun damage catching up later on in life.
Although SPF 50 sun blocks do protect your children more, it’s not significantly more. Also, remember that higher SPF sun products do not replace the need for frequent products reapplication, seeking shade during the hottest parts of the day and covering up with clothing and hats. So don't become complacent just because your child is covered in SPF 50+.
Since ultraviolet (UV) radiation actually consists of two different types of rays, let's briefly examine them. UVBs are the rays that burn your skin and are covered in the SPF system, whilst UVAs cause premature skin aging and affect the immune system, but aren't protected against unless specified.
Although the UVA rays don’t have a specific rating system, both the UVs are covered under the broad spectrum banner, often referred to as the 'star rating'. The British Skin Foundation advises picking sun protection with at least a four star rating against UV.
Chemical sunscreens are generally smoother, lighter and protect the skin for longer between applications. However, as they work via absorption into the skin, they aren't instantly protective and need to be applied 20-30 minutes before heading outside. They may also be of concern to some parents due to the chemical ingredients, which additionally could cause a reaction to sensitive skin.
Mineral sunscreens, or physical sunscreens, don’t even let the UV rays enter. They contain one of (or both) zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which sit on the skin when applied, making them effective immediately. Due to the way they work, you'll need to be super sure you have covered all areas and reapply regularly as they typically don't last as long.
Water-resistant sunscreens are great for active children. In water, the sun can be reflected and therefore reach other parts of the body which are usually shaded, like under the chin, meaning it's important to find a sunscreen that doesn't wash off easily.
With a water-resistant sunscreen, however, they’ll be able to enjoy their time jumping in and playing without you pestering them every time they leave the pool. Water resistant sunscreens also protect even when sweating. You must re-apply, when at the pool or beach, more frequently than you would if your kids weren't getting wet though.
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SPF 50+ Roll on Sun Lotion
A Scent-Free Superstar With a Lovely Consistency That Rolls Onto Skin Effortlessly
Very High Protection SPF 50+ Sun Lotion
A Thick, Patented Formula That’s Easily Absorbed With an SPF of 50+
Organic Children Scent Free Sun Cream
An Organic Eco Friendly Suncream Ideal For Sensitive Skin
SPF 30 Clear Zinc Sunscreen
A Nourishing Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Garnier Ambre Solaire
Kids Sensitive Water Resistant Sun Cream Spray
50+ and 5 Star UV Protection Based on Science Backed by the British Skin Foundation
360°Pediatrics Atopic Lotion Body Spray
A Patented Filter Protects and Nourishes Very Sensitive Skin
Sunscreen Mousse Kids
An Unusual Sunscreen Mousse That is Fun to Appply
Advanced Baby Sun Protection Lotion
An Affordable Sunscreen Infused With Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to Keep the Skin Smooth and Silky
Protect & Care Coloured Roll-on SPF 50+
A Ready-To-Go Roll-on With a Summery Scent That Comes Out Green When Applied
Baby Sun Cream SPF 50｜4 x 100 ml
An Amazon-Brand 4-Pack of Cost-Effective Factor 50 Baby Suncream
This super-convenient roll-on offering from Childs Farm is brilliant. The 50+ broad spectrum lotion has a pleasant consistency, neither thick nor thin, and it spreads effortlessly, leaving no trace behind once absorbed.
Also, this sunscreen contains no nasties or artificial colours which make it great for those that are prone to a touch of dry or sensitive skin. For the fair price, we don't think you can pick up a better sunscreen, which is why it takes our top spot.
This French brand has been keeping the little ones safe and parents stress-free since the 1950s. Although this has a thick consistency, it doesn't hamper its ability to absorb and this could even help when keeping track of how much you have applied. It hits all the major needs of a product, being water-resistant, SPF 50+ and broad-spectrum.
As well as this it also comes with a patented ingredient - Avocado Perseose. The inclusion of this helps preserve the cellular richness of your children's skin and provides an extra barrier to the sun's UV rays.
This organic, eco friendly mineral sunscreen uses naturally sourced ingredients - including aloe vera, avocado oil, olive oil and rosemary extract to protect your young ones from harmful UV rays. Plus it's tear-free, fragrance-free and highly praised by those dealing with sensitive skin.
Buying this product donates to the Marine Conservation Society. The packaging is made from bio-plastic (i.e. plant-plants rather than petroleum-based) - so whilst it still won't degrade for hundreds of years, it is made from a renewable source, and the bio-plastic is recyclable in normal recycling bins. A really very thoughtful product.
This is a wonderful choice for sensitive skins as it contains gorgeous plant extracts such as shea butter, aloe vera and argan oil for nourishment and skin healing, it manages to be less thick and greasy than some other natural products with added oils.
It's highly water- and sweat-resistant and has a good SPF of 30. Plus, the smell is minimal. Babo Botanicals is a certified B Corp company, meaning they take their environmental and social responsibilities seriously.
This product from Garnier ticks a lot of the right boxes. It's odourless so the kids won't be able to complain about that. Furthermore, it's high in SPF and has a 5 star UV rating, as well as being water-resistant and lastly, good value for money.
Reassuringly, Garnier's suncare research is recognised by the British Skin Foundation. Reviewers love the sun protection it provodes, but dislike the chalky residue - kids probably won't mind about that though and their protection is the main aim with this product.
This SPF 50+ sunscreen from Spanish brand Helios is a gift to those with sensitive 'atopic' irritated skin - the unique patented Fernblock filter protects skin and promotes natural skin repair. The added vitamin E moisturises and adds an extra layer of protection too.
This suncream has a 5 star UV rating and it's paraben-free, alcohol-free and fragrance-free. The trigger spray bottle makes for very easy application, although it will take up more space when packing for a holiday.
This sunscreen from the Swedish brand Evy is great for your kids. Just get them involved in squirting the mousse on and rubbing it in and we're sure they'll be entertained - it's just like playing with shaving foam. It has a non-sticky, oil-free formula, which makes it great for sensitive skin.
This is a long-lasting waterproof sunscreen and it can withstand lots of water-based activity. Despite this it is hypoallergenic and doesn't clog pores. Applying the foam might take some getting used to though, to ensure that you use enough to protect delicate skin.
This product from Banana Boat has a competent price-per-ml, which makes it of great value and a good deal. It's got everything you could need from sunscreen, including aloe vera and vitamin E to keep skin soft, and is even water-resistant for 80 minutes!
You certainly won't lose this neon eye-catching bottle in your bag or amongst the sand - fans of it love the kitsch packaging. However, some reviewers have commented that when they used it on their babies it ended up staining their clothes.
Not only are roll-ons easy to apply, but they're great for keeping track of where you have used it (before it absorbs) so that you can touch up any areas that have been missed! Another fun feature is that when applied, the cream is green, which we think children will love.
This sunscreen from Nivea comes with an aroma that is completely reminiscent of summer, which is lovely, but can be a touch overpowering if you or your little one is sensitive to scent. This is a tiny container and that may make some people apply less than they should.
This cost-effective Amazon brand baby sun cream offers factor 50 and high UVA / UVB protection. You get 400 ml of sun cream in total, in four different tubes - ideal for keeping one in the school or nursery bag, one near the garden door, one in the bathroom and one in your day bag.
The cream is fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skin - it absorbs in fully and won't block pores. It doesn't contain parabens or colourings, it blocks the UV rays with titanium dioxide Nano particles, as well as various organic compounds, but it doesn't have the star rating on the packaging which worries some and means some nurseries won't accept it.
Babies under 6 months shouldn't be in the sun and therefore sun cream isn't designed for them. Babies are more sensitive to the chemicals in sunscreen and are more prone to irritation. Instead, you should practise good suncare with your young baby by keeping them in the shade.
You should reapply sunscreen every two hours to your children, but if they are getting in and out of the swimming pool then you must reapply much more frequently. For the first application of the day, ensure that you’re applying it at least 15-30 minutes before going out.
It’s good practice to get kids into the habit of wearing daily sunscreen, as children’s skin is much more sensitive than ours and we as adults are told to wear it everyday. This will help prevent early skin damage that could lead to skin cancer later.
No. 1: Childs Farm｜SPF 50+ Roll on Sun Lotion
No. 2: Mustela｜Very High Protection SPF 50+ Sun Lotion
No. 3: Green People｜Organic Children Scent Free Sun Cream
No. 4: Babo Botanicals ｜SPF 30 Clear Zinc Sunscreen
No. 5: Garnier Ambre Solaire｜Kids Sensitive Water Resistant Sun Cream Spray
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