Sunscreen on Beach; Courtesy of Freebird797/
All Ages

8 Best Sunscreens for Kids 2021

See recent posts by Amanda Norcross

With the growing popularity and importance of natural sunscreens for the environment, many of us are wondering: does natural sunscreen (also known as reef-safe sunscreen) actually work—especially when it comes to protecting kids? We talked to a few experts to find out and help us choose the best sunscreens for kids.

Q: Does reef-safe sunscreen work as well as conventional sunscreen?

A: “In terms of ingredients, there’s reason to believe natural sunscreens are actually more effective than their chemical-based counterparts,” says Adina Mahalli, a skincare expert at Maple Holistics. “The active ingredients in natural sunscreen physically deflect the sun’s UV rays versus chemical sunscreens that absorb the sun’s rays and then transform them into less damaging waves.”

Conventional sunscreens also don’t protect us from skin cancer. “All the conventional ingredients in most sunscreens only protect from burns, not cancer, with the exception of avobenzone,” says Katie Kimball, a sunscreen expert who has tested over 100 natural mineral sunscreens. “That means if your regular sunscreen doesn’t have avobenzone (plus others), you’re not safe from UVA (aging, carcinogenic) rays anyway.

Q: What ingredients should I look for in natural sunscreen?

A: “Zinc oxide, the best active ingredient in natural sunscreens, is actually the ONLY ingredient that provides broad spectrum coverage by itself,” says Kimball. “For families with young children, consider this: zinc oxide is also the active ingredient in diaper cream. It is the ONLY sunscreen active ingredient that’s approved for babies under 6 months, so it’s literally the safest.”

8 Best Sunscreens for Kids  

Fortunately, more and more reef-safe sunscreens are hitting the market—but that makes it harder for consumers to choose what’s best. “Beware of ‘greenwashing,’ when brands slap a ‘mineral-based’ label on the front, but still include all the conventional actives, along with a paltry 3 percent zinc oxide,” says Kimball. Based on expert advice, these are the best sunscreens for kids.

Thinkbaby Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

1. Thinkbaby 

Thinkbaby was the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements. For older kids, check out Thinksport Kids Safe Sunscreen, and for adults, there’s regular Thinksport.

Badger Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

2. Badger 

Like Thinkbaby, Badger offers natural sunscreens that are formulated for babies and kids. Badger also makes a tinted zinc oxide sunscreen and an anti-bug sunscreen.

Related: 9 Best Natural Bug Repellents for Kids

Kokua Sun Care Natural Zinc Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

3. Kokua Sun Care

Kokua Sun Care is safe for coral reef and humans—babies included. It’s also formulated with 23 antioxidant ingredients, seven of which are grown in Hawaii.

Hello Bello Sunscreen; Courtesy of Walmart

4. Hello Bello

Dax Shepard and Kristin Bell’s baby line includes an SPF 50 natural mineral sunscreen that’s effective for both babies and adults.

Related: 4 Best Sunscreens for Babies, According to a Pediatric Dermatologist

Kabana Green Screen Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

5. Kabana Green Screen

There are only eight ingredients in Kabana Green Screen, including 25-percent non-nano zinc oxide. The sunscreen is safe for babies and children, as well as the environment; in fact, it’s biodegradable! Kabana Green Screen also makes sunscreens that are formulated for different skin types: Neutral (light Mediterranean, Asian, Caucasian); Bronze (Mediterranean, East Indian, Native American, and those who get a deeper tan in general); and Nude, which blends with your natural skin tone.

Raw Elements Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

6. Raw Elements

Raw Elements sunscreen is good for the whole family, and you don’t have to worry about it stinging anyone’s eyes. Also, this sunscreen is provided to guests at Aqua-Aston Hotels in Hawaii, so you know it’s a trusted product.

Related: 10 Best Pool and Beach Toys You Can Pack

Adorable Baby Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

7. Two Peas Organics

Two Pea Organics is an all-around good natural sunscreen for babies, with very few ingredients.

Trader Joe's Mineral Sunscreen Stick; Courtesy of Amazon

8. Trader Joes Mineral Stick

We love that the Trader Joes Mineral Stick moisturizes skin with coconut oil and avocado oil, and that it glides on so easily! Take note—other Trader Joe’s sunscreens are NOT mineral-based, so this is the only one you’ll want to buy.

Related: 8 Best Swim Goggles for Kids 2020

What to Pack for Your Next Trip

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.