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4 best natural sunscreens for babies in 2018

Sunscreen, sun cream, sunblock whatever you call it – chances are you will need it at some point to protect your baby’s delicate skin from getting burnt.

When trying to get pregnant I looked into all the chemicals in conventional sunscreen and found out that there are pretty good alternatives. These alternatives use mineral blockers – most commonly zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to sit on the skin and reflect the UV rays. This is different from ordinary sunscreens that use chemicals which are absorbed through the skin and in some cases into the bloodstream.

This can be pretty confusing – I certainly struggled to start with – so my aim is to give you some background as to why, in my opinion, you don’t need to use chemical sun creams and suggest the 4 best natural sunscreens for babies in 2018.

Why sunscreen is the last resort?

Generally the best protection from the sun is covering up from it! There are many ways to do this:

Clothes: Ordinary shirts, hats, shorts and trousers provide great protection from the sun and they don’t cover your skin in greasy substances… rash vests or full body rash suits are best for swimming.

Shade: Find a tree to picnic under, buy a sun tent. This is especially important for infants – they lack the tanning pigments – melanin, that protect skin. If your baby is under 6 months old then it is recommended that you shield them from the sun completely rather than putting sun cream on their delicate skin.

Sunglasses: Good sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation that causes cataracts. Good luck keeping them on your baby though!

Babies and children need to be taken outside no matter what the weather…normally to stop them tearing down the house.

And despite your best efforts they may pull their hats off and escape the shade – so in this case you will need a good sunscreen that isn’t full of nasty chemicals but actually works.

I am sure you agree?!!

Here is a little video on how to best apply sunscreen to your baby – lots of handy tips:

What to look out for in traditional sunscreen?

The key chemicals to avoid in traditional sun cream are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Avoid them for your health as well as for the reefs in our oceans. Oxybenzone and octinoxate have been linked to degradation of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs such as the great barrier reef in Australia and now Hawaii are trying to ban tourists from using certain sunscreens in their waters.

Oxybenzone is an active ingredient found in many chemical sunscreens. It penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions. There has been some research to suggest that it is linked to health disorders, including endometriosis in older women and lower birth weights in newborn girls. Check out EWG’s worst scoring kids sunscreen – it includes household names like banana boat, neutrogena and Coppertone.
Octinoxate can be rapidly absorbed through the skin. It’s health concerns include endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental toxicity.

What does SPF, UVA & broad spectrum actually mean?

What do all the different types of sunscreen labels actually mean?

Here is a very quick and simple overview:

The sun gives off two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation: UVA and UVB. Both types damage unprotected skin.
UVA – penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, and plays a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. UVA is more of a threat because there are much more of them – if there is sunlight (even on a cloudy day) then you are exposed to UVA rays.

UVB is the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. UVB intensity varies depending on the time of day, climate and season.

SPF labeling refers to the protection from UVB rays only. Also, as side note – higher SPF is not necessarily better; aim for between 15 & 50. Anything over 50 is likely to be sacrificing UVA protection or adding unnecessary chemicals into the mix.

PA+/++ ratings are what refer to UVA protection.
In order to protect from both UVA & UVB you need to look for the broad spectrum label – unfortunately regulation around broad spectrum criteria – the balance of UVA to UVB protection i- s not very strict in the US and much of Asia.

Seems complicated doesn’t it….

It doesn’t have to be, use this rule of thumb: Choose mineral suncreams that are by definition broad spectrum because they create a barrier between your skin and the UVA and UVB rays – they are suncreams that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as natural blockers.

Natural sunscreens are greasy, thick and leave me white!

These barrier sunscreens (also called physical/mineral sun creams) work differently to traditional chemical sunscreens and therefore feel different to apply.

Honestly I am yet to find the perfect formula that disappears on the skin, doesn’t feel greasy or heavy and washes off easily….it is because of the way they work as a barrier sitting on the skin to reflect UV rays, while a mainstream chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin.

An upside to the greasiness is that it makes it a lot more water-resistant! The white hue that your child will get initially will fade so they won’t look like ghosts for long:)

Of course, you will need to wash these off thoroughly at the end of the day – check out my previous post on the best natural baby bath products to use!
But don’t get me wrong, these physical sun creams are NOT all created equal! The 4 I am recommending below have been tried and tested by hundreds of parents – most importantly they work to protect against both types of UV rays and they are also the best in their class for application and use.

4 tried, tested & safe sunscreens for your kids

1. Badger Baby SPF 30+ broad spectrum

Badger is one of the biggest natural sun cream brands on the market and has been making natural sunscreen since 2004. Their sunscreens use zinc oxide as the only active ingredient and are certified as natural and organic, using a base of plant oils, aloe and beeswax.

natural-sunscreens-for-babies-badger-baby

PROS

  • Hypoallergenic formula – good for sensitive skin
  • Only 6 ingredients – 100% Certified Natural by NPA & 98% Organic Ingredients Certified by NSF
  • Chamomile and calendula scent is calming and not overpowering
  • Only uses one active ingredient – zinc oxide as a UV blocker

CONS

  • It is quite hard to rub in and leaves a white film on skin
  • Reapply every 40 mins
  • Beeswax is used so not a vegan formula

VERDICT: This is a solid natural sun cream choice from a very reliable natural brand, it is one of the best options for sensitive skin but it does leave the babies looking a little pale….

WHERE TO BUY:

Hong Kong: Get it through iherb

USA: Widely available, Amazon

2. Blue Lizard Baby SPF 30+ broad spectrum

Blue Lizard was originally an Australian brand but it was bought out and is now manufactured in the US. They use 2 active ingredients – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They have a patented BPA-free Smart Bottle™ that changes colour in the presence of harmful UV rays, reminding you to cover up!

blue-lizard-skin-baby

PROS

  • Goes on very well for a natural sun cream – leaving little residue
  • Great for eczema or rosacea skin conditions
  • Love that the bottle changes colour to warn you of harmful rays!

CONS

  • Pretty expensive
  • Hard to remove without scrubbing!

VERDICT: This is a very popular natural sunscreen for babies, it has the cool, colour changing bottle whilst being one of the easiest to apply, leaving the least white residue on skin.

WHERE TO BUY:

Hong Kong: Get it through iherb

USA: Amazon

3. Goddess Garden Baby SPF 30, broad spectrum

Goddess Garden is a family run brand that was born because they wanted to find a solution for their daughter who has very sensitive skin and was allergic to the synthetic ingredients in commercial personal care products.

goddess-garden-baby-natural-sunscreen

PROS

  • Small tube that is easy to carry around in your handbag or take one an airplane. Also, comes in a stick.
  • Only uses one active ingredient – zinc oxide as a UV blocker
  • It is a vegan formula with certified organic ingredients using aloe vera and sunflower oil

CONS

  • Not the easiest to rub in – the white does disappear but need to rub in thoroughly which can be difficult with a squirming baby

VERDICT: This is a family brand that is grown out of love and a genuine need, it is good for sensitive skin but does leave a residue.

WHERE TO BUY:

Hong Kong: Get it through iherb

USA: Amazon

4. Thinkbaby SPF 50, broad spectrum


Thinkbaby was founded as they saw a gap in the market for safe consumer products that are not full of harmful chemicals. They make everything from baby bottles to sun cream with the motto of being safe, functional and sustainable. Their sun cream is hugely popular with over 2000 reviews on amazon – 72% are 5*.

think-baby-natural-sunscreen-babies

PROS

  • It is the longest lasting sunscreen and highest SPF factor on this list – recommendation is 80 mins reapplication
  • Love that they have EWG rating of every ingredient printed on their bottles!
  • Only uses one active ingredient – zinc oxide as a UV blocker
  • Accessible price point

CONS

  • Need to scrub it off!

VERDICT: This is a socially conscious company who give back in a regular, structured way to charities and they make the best-selling natural sunscreen on Amazon US.

WHERE TO BUY:

Hong Kong: Get it through iherb

USA: amazon

My recommendation for the best natural sunscreen for babies

These 4 natural sunscreens for babies are all great products that you can be sure are safe to use as they are all rated 1 in EWG’s best scoring sunscreen guide.

Of course we are all on the hunt for the one sunscreen that blocks the harmful rays, is easy to apply, doesn’t leave any white residue, comes off well at the end of the day and is not made from chemicals that are linked to endocrine disruption, skin irritation and cancer….

Whichever mineral sunscreen you buy for your baby it will be more difficult to rub in than most chemical sunscreens, if you are going to a photo shoot….and you don’t want to risk any white residue try these 3 steps:

1. Moisturise your skin first

2. Cover one small area of skin at a time.

3. Rub, rub rub until the white disappears!

The application is different from chemical sunscreen but keeping those little people safe from potentially very harmful chemicals is definitely worth the extra effort!
Bottomline: I would start with the Think Baby sunscreen as a good all rounder that is reasonably priced – there is a reason this is the most popular mineral sunscreen on the market!


4 Comments

  • Lace

    April 8, 2018

    I absolutely agree that mainstream sunscreens are dangerous and full of toxic crap. None of which belongs on our precious children’s skin. We make our own with zinc oxide at home because I know exactly what’s in it and the rationale behind the ingredients. These products are great for those looking for something to buy rather than make. I’d never heard of these brands so thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Allie

      April 9, 2018

      Oh great Lace, very impressed with the DIY! Sunscreen is something I have not had much success with DIY. Will have to give it a try.

      Reply
  • Prabakaran

    April 9, 2018

    Hi
    Thanks for sharing this post.i have not heard of these sunscreen brands. These sunscreens will be very useful in countries like India and the Middle East where the sunlight is very harsh. Only thing I want to know is if these products shipped to these countries.
    Thanks for letting me know about very useful products.

    Reply

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