Finally, the weather is starting to change and summer is definitely in the air. At least here in Portugal it is anyway. And as the sunshine starts bringing the heat, it’s time to step up our game in the protection department. In an effort to try to avoid the conventional, chemical ladened options I’ve put together a list of the best organic sunscreen for kids this year.
Sunscreen is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to hidden toxicity. Conventional sunscreens contain ingredients that are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and have been linked to allergies and endocrine disruption, which basically means that they can mess with your hormonal system.
The FDA are currently coming up with new regulations for the sunscreen industry that will be released in November. What we know so far is that of the 16 ingredients allowed in sunscreens up till now only two are generally recognised as safe and effective. They are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Another 2 ingredients – PABA and trolamine salicylate – are no longer recognised as safe, and the remaining 12 are undergoing further investigation.
Conventional sunscreens work by changing the sun’s light energy into heat energy. This may stop you from burning but it can also cause inflammation. Natural sunscreens, or “physical sunscreens” as the FDA call them, using mineral-based formulas with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work by reflecting the sun’s light away from the skin.
What To Look For In A Sunscreen
You may be looking for a sunscreen with all natural ingredients, but we use sunscreen for a reason so you want it to do its job well. The Mayo Clinic advises using a broad spectrum sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, to protect your bub from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
You’ll want to steer clear of anything containing Oxybenzone. This is the chemical ingredient that has been linked to endocrine disruption, allergies and even cancer. It also bleached and kills coral. If it’s not safe for the reef it’s really not something you want to be using on your kid’s skin, or your own.
Some brands selling natural sunscreen for kids talk about the importance of using non-nano zinc oxide. They are referring to the size of the zinc oxide particles. Zinc oxide is the ingredient that generally causes that white pasty residue that some sun creams leave on the skin.
To combat this many manufacturers are reducing the size of the zinc oxide particles through a process called “micronizing”. The smaller particles are called nano particles and they make the sunscreen easier to rub in, leaving less white residue on the skin. The smaller particles cover a larger surface area and offer broad spectrum protection, blocking both UVA and UVB rays.
There is some concern that these nano particles are absorbed through the skin and can cause tissue damage. This concern seems to be unfounded as tests say that the skin couldn’t possibly absorb enough of the particles to do any damage.
The term “non-nano particles” is a bit misleading but basically means the normal sized zinc oxide particles that haven’t been through the micronizing process. If you’d like to read more about the nano/non-nano debate then check out this article by the Environmental Working Group.
1. Green People Children’s Sun Lotion Scent Free SPF 30 (150ml)
I love this sunscreen for kids by Green People. It’s made with almost all natural, organic, fair trade ingredients and you won’t find any of the usually nasties in it. It offers really good protect, is really easy to spread and is quick to absorb which is great when you’re trying to apply it to wriggle, can’t keep still for a minute child.
The natural ingredients mean it’s very gentle on sensitive skin, and is even safe to use if your kid is prone to eczema and psoriasis. It doesn’t contain any parabens, alcohol, gluten, petrochemicals, mineral oils or any of those other toxic things you usually find in sun creams so I feel really happy about using in on my baby’s delicate skin.
This sunscreen is reef safe, meaning that whatever washes off into the ocean isn’t going to cause any damage to the Eco system, plus Green People donate 30 pence from every sale to the Marine Conservation Society, which protects the sea and its wildlife.
Another really cool thing about this product is that even the packaging is Eco-friendly. It’s made from sugar cane and is 100% recyclable and carbon neutral.
- Offers 97% UVB protection (the rays that cause burning)
- High protection against UVA and UVB rays
- NEW easy-to-apply formula, suitable for sensitive skin & prickly heat
- NEW plant-based packaging, fully recyclable
- Soothing and non-greasy
- Water repellent but non pore-clogging
- Contains 84% organic content
2. Badger Organic Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF30
As you can imagine, this naturally scented Tangerine and Vanilla lotion smells amazing. You won’t have such a fight on your hands trying to get the kids to apply something that smells like ice cream.
It’s made from completely certified organic ingredients including sunflower oil, bees wax, orange oil and Vitamin E so it’s really gentle on the skin. It does take a bit of rubbing in and leaves a faint white residue on the skin but I’m fine with that, at least you can be sure that the kids are well covered.
- Protects against UVA and UVB rays with zinc oxide
- Protects against UVA and UVB rays with Zinc Oxide, a safe, physical blocker.
- No oxybenzone, octinoxate or other chemical actives—ever.
- Water & sweat resistant for 40 minutes .
- Hypoallergenic – safe for even the most sensitive skin.
- Naturally scented with certified organic Tangerine and Vanilla.
- Biodegradable—coral reef safe and planet-friendly.
- Skin-soothing base of Sunflower Oil, Beeswax and Vitamin E.
- BPA & phthalate-free #2 recyclable plastic tube.
- 98% Organic Ingredients Certified by NSF
3. BabyGanics Sunscreen Mineral Based Broad Spectrum Fragrance Free SPF50
Babyganics is a pretty popular brand, and with good reason. Although the ingredient list isn’t 100% natural, few are, the majority of ingredients are plant derived. The company is very open about what goes into their products, and if you look on their site you can see the list of ingredients, where each one comes from and what it does.
The lotion is easy to rub in but leaves a bit of a white tint. This is to be expected with creams of such a high protection factor though. It’s not sticky and it doesn’t stain clothes so it’s no big deal really. Like I said earlier, the white tint is actually quite helpful for seeing where you need to apply more.
It’s completely fragrance free and non/allergenic so it’s highly unlikely that your baby will have a bad reaction to it. It’s also available as a spray and in stick form so you can decide which is the easiest for you to use. You might find that your toddler will enjoy applying the stick to himself.
- UVA and UVB protection & water resistant (80 minutes)
- Tear free and non-allergenic
- Pediatrician and Dermatologist tested
- With 100% natural NeoNourish Seed Oil Blend to help nurture and support baby’s skin
- No PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances or nano-particles
4. Argen Beauty Deep Natural Organic Sunscreen SPF40
These little pots of pleasure are handmade in England with 100% natural, organic ingredients. You can use it on the kids and on yourself, and the large jar lasts for ages.
The ingredients list is short and everything is recognisable which is always a plus. All it contains is Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Grape Seed Oil, Organic Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, Vitamin E and Non-Nano Zinc Oxide.
Coconut Oil greatly helps the skin by forming a protective layer over it, reducing its exposure to the sun. It also keeps the skin hydrated and has antibacterial properties.
Shea Butter is rich in vitamins A, E, F and K and is a proven anti-inflammatory. Vitamin K helps your body heal faster when your skin barrier has been compromised. Shea also aids in the skin’s natural collagen production and contains oleic, stearic, palmitic, and linolenic acids that protect and nourish the skin to prevent drying.
Grapeseed Oil has powerful antioxidants that help to protect your skin from absorbing the full damage of UV rays. It’s used to treat acne, sunburn, tanning and skin aging.
Mango Butter helps soothe and heal damaged skin. It can minimize itching and reduce inflammation while it moisturises the skin
Beeswax locks in moisture and creates a long-lasting coating to protect skin from damaging environmental factors.
Non-Nano Zinc Oxide protects against both the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. These non-nano particles aren’t small enough to penetrate the skin so they won’t be absorbed into the bloodstream. That’s why the distinction as “non-nano” is important when choosing a sunscreen.
All of these lovely ingredients are reef safe, and the packaging is reusable and recyclable so you’ll be doing Mother Earth a favour too if you buy this sunscreen
- 100% natural
- Reef safe
- Non-nano zinc oxide
- No hidden nasties
5. Organic Aloe Vera Sun Lotion SPF50
This high factor sunscreen is made with Organic Aloe Vera, Avocado oil and Jojoba oil, and has many revitalizing vitamins. It’s highly nourishing formula offers essential protection from UVA and UVB rays, deep rehydration, and quick, soothing relief.
It’s easy to rub in and quick to absorb but it isn’t water resistant so you will have to keep applying it. It’s mostly natural and is protective against burning so it’s a bit of a trade off I guess.
- Safest available ingredients
- Enriched with nourishing Avocado and jojoba oil
- Natural soothers for overworked, stressed or sun-exposed skin
- Ultimate shield against harmful sun exposure
- Protects from UVA and UVB rays
- Free from artificial perfumes, colours, SLS, and parabens
While it’s important that we try to use products with natural ingredients that will be gentle on our little one’s skin, the most important thing when choosing a sunscreen is that it does its job well and protects them from the sun. Until the FDA releases their new regulations in November they advise everyone to use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer at the moment as to which one is the safest: nano or non-nano zinc oxide. But they are both consider safe to use at the moment.
All these sunscreens can be used on babies older than 6 months. Babies younger than 6 months should always be kept in the shade and wear clothes that protect them from the sun. In fact there are some great items of clothing on the market today that offer 50+ SPF so it’s a good idea to include those in your arsenal.
Don’t forget the importance of a sunhat. And little ones eyes need to be protected too. Just as their skin is more sensetive than an adult’s, so are their eyes. They let in more light than an adult’s eyes so it’s important for kids to start using sunglasses early. Check out this great article on baby’s sunglasses to learn more.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.