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Best baby sunscreen 2023: Protect your baby’s skin with the best sun creams for infants

Delicate infant skin needs sun protection all year round. We round up the best and safest sun creams for babies, toddlers and children

When we were kids, painful red shoulders and peeling noses were the mark of a summer holiday well spent. Sunburn was a badge of honour.

Oops. We now know that getting sunburnt just once as a child can give you skin cancer as an adult. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can burn infant skin in minutes, even on an overcast September day in the park.

Babies under six months shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight at all, but there are times you can’t avoid it. Shade and clothes are the first lines of defence, but a good sunscreen is a vital part of your childcare routine. In time, slapping on the SPF should become as much a part of your kids’ daily life as brushing their teeth.

Here, we offer a quick buyers’ guide and then reveal our top ten sun-protection products for your baby. 

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Best baby sunscreen: At a glance

How to choose the best sunscreen for your baby

Can you bust all this jargon for me, please?

Here goes…

SPF = sun protection factor. The higher the number, the greater the protection against UVB radiation.

SPF50+ = the highest you can get in the UK. It offers 98% UVB protection.

SPF30 = the lowest recommended for babies, but it still delivers 97% UVB protection.

UVB = ultraviolet B, the type that causes sunburn and is protected by SPF.

UVA = ultraviolet A, the type that causes ageing. The star rating you see on some sunscreen bottles indicates UVA protection, of which the maximum is five.

Broad spectrum = UVB and UVA protection. All the products in our lineup offer broad-spectrum protection with SPF30 and higher.

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So should I simply buy the highest SPF I can find?

Yes and no. High SPF is non-negotiable for babies: it must be SPF30 or higher. But SPF30 tends to be easier to apply and absorb than SPF50, and slightly less loaded with active ingredients.

What’s more important than 30 versus 50 is that you regularly apply plenty of it. And remember, even SPF50+ isn’t a complete sunblock.

The bottom line from the British Association of Dermatologists: “Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight. Sunscreens are not an alternative to clothing and shade – they offer additional protection.”

I’m worried about chemicals – what is sunscreen made from?

There are two broad categories: chemical sunscreens and physical (mineral) sunblocks. Each type has pros and cons for baby.

1. Chemical sunscreen

Active ingredients: UV (ultraviolet)-absorbing chemicals such as avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone.

The science bit: The chemicals absorb into the skin then soak up UV rays and convert them into heat, which is then released from the body.

Pros: Price and convenience. Chemical sunscreens tend to be cheaper, thinner and more quickly absorbed, making them easier to apply to delicate infant skin. They also tend to be more moisturising.

Cons: Chemical sunscreens need 20 minutes to soak in before you can head out. Many are environmentally harmful, particularly to marine life. They’re also more comedogenic than mineral sunblocks – in other words, they clog pores.

2. Mineral sunscreen

Active ingredients: UV-blocking minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

The science bit: They reflect UV rays away. They’re literally sunblocks.

Pros: Mineral sunblocks often come in stick formats that are easy to apply and carry around. They’re far more environmentally friendly than chemical sunscreens and less comedogenic.

Cons: More expensive, and sometimes too thick and heavy to be welcomed by your wriggly baby or toddler. Heavy high-SPF mineral creams can also trigger skin dryness and even eczema.

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The best sunscreen for babies 2023

1. Childs Farm SPF50+ Roll-on Sun Lotion: The best all-round sun cream for babies

Price when reviewed: From £15 | Check price at Amazon

Our top choice offers the best of all worlds. As well as being super-high SPF, it’s moisturising, quickly absorbed and very easy to apply thanks to the ingenious roll-on format that’s safe for babies and fun for older kids.

Childs Farm’s lotion is a chemical sunscreen but the ingredients are as environmentally friendly as possible. There are no artificial colours, parabens or SLS (sodium laureth sulfate, effectively detergent), and the hypoallergenic formula is specially designed for babies’ sensitive skin.

Rarely for a chemical sunscreen, this one is approved by the Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International. It’s also recommended by dermatologists and paediatricians for babies, children prone to eczema and anyone with sensitive skin.

Key specs – SPF: 50+; UVA rating: Not given; Sunscreen type: Chemical; Application type: Roll-on lotion; Volume: 70ml; Water resistant: Yes

2. Green People Organic Children sun lotion SPF30: The best chemical-free sun cream for babies (and grown-ups)

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Green People

This fragrance-free, 84% organic mineral cream is our top choice for environmental friendliness. Even the packaging is plant-based and fully recyclable.

Most mineral creams use zinc oxide, which leaves a white residue that flakes off easily. No such problems with this titanium dioxide-based cream. It rubs in clear and isn’t sticky or greasy. What’s more, it doesn’t clog pores, so it’s ideal for eczema, psoriasis and acne sufferers of all ages.

Key specs – SPF: 30; UVA rating: 5; Sunscreen type: Mineral; Application type: Cream; Volume: 150ml; Water resistant: Yes

Check price at Green People

3. Evy Sunscreen Mousse SPF30 Kids: The best fast-absorbing sunscreen for babies

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon

Evy’s featherweight SPF30 mousse is the fastest-absorbing sunscreen we tried. It’s perfect if your baby or toddler is particularly averse to having gunk rubbed onto their face, although you’ll need to reapply every couple of hours.

The mousse is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, paraben-free and dermatologist-approved for eczema sufferers.

Adults with acne will find Evy’s sunscreen a good choice, too. It contains anti-inflammatory agents and fatty acids to protect the complexion and, as it’s so light, it’s ideal for applying under make-up, which isn’t something you can say about many of the creams on this list.

Key specs – SPF: 30; UVA rating: 5; Sunscreen type: Chemical; Application type: Mousse; Volume: 150ml; Water resistant: Yes

4. Ultrasun Extreme Sensitive SPF 50+ Sun Lotion: The best sun cream for babies with eczema

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Ultrasun

This thick lotion is the only product on our list that combines mineral and chemical sunscreens. The formula mops up free radicals as well as UVB and UVA, and includes vitamin E and pro vitamin B5 to protect extremely sensitive skin in the sun.

We found it a little too thick for comfort at first, but it does absorb fast, with no greasy feel or chalky appearance. So, if your child’s skin is prone to eczema or dryness, this may be the one lotion that really works for you.

Toddlers and up will prefer faster-drying Ultrasun Kids SPF50+.

Key specs – SPF: 50+; UVA rating: 5; Sunscreen type: Chemical and mineral; Application type: Lotion; Volume: 150ml; Water resistant: Yes

Check price at Ultrasun

5. Solait Baby Sun Cream SPF50+: The best-value sun cream for babies

Price when reviewed: £5 | Check price at Superdrug

Superdrug’s own-brand baby sun cream is brilliant value. It offers very high broad-spectrum protection, is easy to apply, and leaves baby’s skin feeling soft and supple.

For older kids, check out Superdrug’s Solait Kids Sun Cream SPF50+ 200ml, which is extra water resistant to keep children safe when they’re paddling in the shallows and travsersing the waves.

Key specs – SPF: 50+; UVA rating: 5; Sunscreen type: Chemical; Application type: Lotion; Volume: 200ml; Water resistant: Yes

Check price at Superdrug

6. Mustela Very High Protection SPF50+: A moisturising sun cream for young babies

Price when reviewed: £19 | Check price at Amazon

French baby skincare experts Mustela claim this cream is safe for newborns. Don’t take that too literally. It’s not safe to expose babies under six months to direct sunlight at all, sun cream or no sun cream.

Mustela’s cream scores highly with parents who love its super-moisturising properties. It’s free of perfume and parabens and offers high broad-spectrum protection. It squirts out of the tube very fast, though: be warned!

Key specs – SPF: 50+; UVA rating: Not given; Sunscreen type: Chemical; Application type: Lotion; Volume: 100ml; Water resistant: Yes

7. Thinkbaby Sunscreen Baby SPF 50+: An environmentally-friendly sunblock cream for babies

Price when reviewed: £15 Check price at Amazon

When the city of Key West in Florida banned sunscreens in spring 2019 for causing environmental damage, Thinkbaby products were among very few to be exempt because its sunscreens don’t use any harmful chemicals whatsoever.

Thinkbaby’s SPF50+ cream offers the highest-permitted level of sun protection and water resistance. It’s officially fragrance-free but there is a slight aroma and it’s rather thick. Some users also report it left their baby’s skin a bit “rashy”.

Key specs – SPF: 50+; UVA rating: Not given; Sunscreen type: Mineral; Application type: Cream; Volume: 3fl oz (89ml); Water resistant: Yes

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