Summer means a lot of extra time in the sun, especially for kids. And whether you’re at the pool, the beach, or just outside, it’s important to wear good sunscreen in order to prevent sunburns and skin cancers. Equally as important is using a clean sunscreen that is non-toxic and safe for kids—and you! Fortunately, there are a lot of great clean sunscreen options that are both effective and safe. Most clean sunscreens use either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which are natural minerals. These sit on top of the skin instead of being absorbed into the skin, which means they are less likely to cause irritation or other harmful effects, unlike their chemical counterparts.
To be effective, a clean sunscreen needs to have three key elements:
- Broad-spectrum coverage. A good clean sunscreen needs to protect skin against both UVA and UVB rays.
- A SPF of at least 15. 30 is best; any higher than that and the amount of increased protection is minor.
- Water resistance. Most sunscreens are water-resistant for either 40 or 80 minutes. Most mineral-based sunscreens need to be reapplied after 40 minutes.
Here are some clean sunscreens to try the next time you’re at the pool, lake, or just enjoying some fun in the sun.
If you have a baby with sensitive skin, this is the sunscreen for you. With no harmful ingredients or irritants, it’s gentle enough for eczema-prone skin and gets an impressive 0 on the ThinkDirty app. EWG rating: 2
Unlike many zinc oxide sunscreens, this clear cream doesn’t leave a white cast, making it just right for darker skin. It’s also fragrance-free and reef-safe. EWG rating: 1
This orange-scented, reef-friendly sunscreen is great for the whole family. Its been my go-to for a while now, and I love that it moisturizes even as it protects. Be sure to check out the sunscreen mist as well. EWG rating: 2
This is perfect for protecting little faces from burns. A few swipes, rub it in, and you’re good to go. Be sure to check out the other Blue Lizard sunscreen lotions, including the one for sensitive skin. EWG rating: 5
If you have a wiggly, impatient toddler, a sunscreen spray is a must. While spray sunscreens are not quite as safe as the typical sunscreen lotion (due to the potential inhalation of particles), the ease of application is worth it, and it’s still safer than most other spray sunscreens on the market. This sunscreen needs to be rubbed in just like a lotion sunscreen, but the continuous spray makes application quick and easy. EWG rating: 5
The Thinkbaby Sunscreen has hundreds of 5-star reviews on Amazon, and after trying it out, I can see why. It’s water-resistant for up 80 minutes, rubs into the skin easily, and the papaya scent is delightful. The Thinkbaby line also offers a sunscreen stick that is terrific for little faces. This is now my go-to for my own kids. EWG rating: 1