It’s so vital to take good care of our skin and protect it from the sun’s harsh rays—especially when it our little ones’ delicate skin. I try to make it a point to wear sun protection when heading out the door with my boys and always keep a mini-stash of quality sun care on hand for a variety of different activities. Whether they’re sweating, swimming, or just headed out for a quick trip to the playground, not one product fits all for our family, so my drawer is always stocked with sunblocks for different occasions. My family and I have virtually tried them all—check out the best sunscreens for kids and my family in the slideshow above.
If you’re shopping for the perfect sunscreen for your kids and family, here are some things to keep in mind:
SUNSCREEN or SUNBLOCK? What’s the difference and which should I buy for my family?
The American Melanoma Foundation notes that there are two major types of sunscreens: chemical and physical.
Sunscreen (or chemical sunscreens)*:
- contain special ingredients that act as filters and reduce ultraviolet radiation penetration to the skin
- are often colorless
- leave a visible film on the skin
- contain UVB absorbing chemicals (and new, good sunscreens contain UVA absorbers as well)
Sunblock (or physical sunscreens)*:
- contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which physically block ultraviolet radiation
- provide broad protection against both UVB and UVA light
- are often messy, visible and do not easily wash off
- the amount of sun protection these sunblocks provide, while potentially high, can’t be quantified in the same manner as sunscreen SPFs
Here are the key factors I’m looking for in a great sunblock or sunscreen for the family:
- First and foremost, sunscreens that are geared toward kids. Children’s and baby sunscreens are typically formulated for sensitive skin and are less likely to cause irritation. Even if you don’t consider your or your kids’ skin sensitive, these products are often stripped of some of the harsher chemicals (always check the labels).
- Sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater to use year-round. If anyone in your family is particularly fair skinned, up the SPF factor.
- A “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA radiation
- Sweat or water resistance. Even if you’re not headed out for heavy sport activity, your sunblock should be able to stand up against the heat and occasional beads of sweat.
Ingredients to look for in a sunblock or sunscreen for the family:
A good sunscreen should contain at least one of the following ingredients:
+ Ecamsule: a UV absorber that filters out UVA rays
+ Avobenzone: can protect against the entire range of UVA rays
+ Oxybenzone: Some environmental groups take issue with this UVA filtering ingredient, while some doctors recommend it wholeheartedly. It’s up to you to decide if this ingredient is right for your family.
+ Titanium dioxide: this ingredient has been deemed completely safe and effective for blocking the sun’s rays.
+ Sulisobenzone: works to filter out both UVA and UVB rays
+ Zinc oxide: Like Titianium Dioxide, this ingredient has been deemed completely safe and effective for blocking the sun’s rays.
Be sure to check out the sunscreens my family can’t live without in the slideshow above.
* all information provided by The American Melanoma Foundation
IMPORTANT: Children under the age of 6 months should not use sunscreen, and instead avoid extended sun exposure. For more information on infants and sunscreen, visit the FDA website.
More Sunscreen Products: