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The Best Easy-to-Apply Sunscreens for Kids

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With summer upon us, ensuring your kids are protected from the sun's harmful rays becomes a top priority. The right sunscreen can shield their delicate skin from UV damage while allowing them to enjoy outdoor activities safely. However, finding a product that’s both effective and easy to apply on squirmy little ones can be challenging. This article will guide you through selecting the best sunscreens for children, emphasizing those with high SPF recommendations and user-friendly application methods. Plus, we'll share some handy tricks to make applying sunscreen less of a struggle and more part of the fun in getting ready for a day under the sun. With these tips, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your kids are well-protected as they embark on their summer adventures.

Why Summer Sun-Protection Is Essential

a boy and a girl are hugging each other while holding a tube of sunscreenShop La Roche-Posay

Summer sun protection is crucial for children because their skin is more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) rays than adult skin. Without proper protection, kids are at a higher risk of sunburn and other skin damages. Sunscreen acts as a barrier that minimizes UV penetration, reducing the risk of sunburn. It also helps in preventing long-term effects such as premature aging and skin cancer. Applying sunscreen with a high SPF protects their delicate skin from harmful rays, allowing them to play outside safely. By taking these steps, you ensure your child enjoys the summer safely without the risk of UV damage.

SPF Recommendations for Kids

a swatch of white cream on a gray background

When it comes to protecting your kids from the sun, choosing the right SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is crucial. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any outdoor activity. This level of protection blocks about 97% of the sun's harmful UVB rays, significantly reducing the risk of sunburn and long-term skin damage.

For children, a higher SPF may offer additional reassurance. Sunscreens with SPF 50 can block approximately 98% of UVB rays. While no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun's rays, these products provide a strong defense against sun exposure. It's important to apply sunscreen generously and evenly to all exposed areas of skin, including often-missed spots like the tops of ears, back of the neck, and feet.

Water-resistant sunscreens are especially beneficial for kids who spend a lot of time swimming or sweating during play. These formulas are designed to maintain SPF protection for up to 40 or 80 minutes while in water or sweating, ensuring continuous coverage during outdoor activities.

Remember, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if your child is swimming or sweating heavily. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate clouds, making sunscreen necessary.

In addition to sunscreen, encourage your child to wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses. Seeking shade during peak sun intensity hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. also helps minimize UV exposure.

By following these recommendations and choosing sunscreens suited for children's sensitive skin, you can help protect them from the harmful effects of the sun while allowing them to enjoy their summer fun safely.

Easiest Sunscreens to Apply

a person is holding a bottle of sun bum spray in their handShop Sun Bum

When it comes to applying sunscreen on kids, ease of use is key. Products that are simple to apply ensure that your child gets the protection they need without fuss. Here are some top picks for sunscreens that combine high SPF protection with hassle-free application, making them perfect for busy parents and active kids.

  • Spray sunscreens offer a quick and even application, ideal for covering large areas of skin swiftly. This type is particularly useful for children who are eager to play and have little patience for traditional lotion applications. The mist form allows you to apply sunscreen evenly, ensuring no spot is missed.
  • Stick sunscreens are another excellent option for fuss-free application. Their solid form makes it easy to apply on the face, around the eyes, and on the ears without irritation. Stick sunscreens are compact and mess-free, perfect for on-the-go touch-ups.

  • Water-resistant formulas are crucial for kids who spend a lot of time in water or sweat during play. These sunscreens maintain their SPF protection for up to 40 or 80 minutes in water, providing continuous coverage without frequent reapplications.

  • Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide offer gentle yet effective protection for sensitive skin. These ingredients sit on top of the skin rather than being absorbed, reducing the risk of irritation. Mineral sunscreens are also less likely to cause stinging if they get into the eyes.

  • Combination products that include insect repellent can be beneficial for outdoor activities in bug-prone areas. These dual-purpose products save time by providing both sun protection and bug defense in one application.

By choosing sunscreens that are easy to apply and suited to your child's needs, you can ensure they stay protected from the sun's harmful rays while enjoying their summer activities safely.

Tricks for Applying Sunscreen on Kids

a woman is applying sunscreen to her daughter 's faceBlack Girl Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen on kids can sometimes feel like a mini-battle. But with the right approach, it can become an easy part of your daily routine. Here are some tricks to make sunscreen application smooth and hassle-free for you and your child.

  • Make it a game. Turn the application process into a fun activity by creating a story or singing a song as you apply the sunscreen. This distracts them and makes them more cooperative.

  • Use a timer. Challenge your child to stay still until the timer goes off, promising a small reward afterward. This can help keep them in place long enough to apply sunscreen thoroughly.

  • Let them do it. For older children, encourage them to apply their own sunscreen under your supervision. This fosters independence and ensures they learn the importance of sun protection early on.

  • Apply before dressing. Putting sunscreen on before clothes ensures you cover all exposed areas without missing spots. It also prevents the sunscreen from staining clothing.

  • Use distractions. Give your child a toy or play a video they like during application. This keeps their hands busy and their attention diverted away from the task at hand.

  • Choose kid-friendly products. Sunscreens that come in bright packaging or feature favorite characters can make children more excited about using them.

  • Practice makes perfect. The more regularly you apply sunscreen on your child, the more accustomed they will become to the process, making it easier over time.

Remember, protecting your child's skin from the sun is crucial for their health. By incorporating these tricks into your routine, you ensure that your child remains protected while making the experience positive for both of you.

Ulta Beauty Buying Guide

Sunscreen is an essential product for protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. It provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, preventing sunburn, premature aging, and even skin cancer. When choosing a sunscreen, look for one that offers at least SPF 30 or higher to ensure adequate protection. Consider the texture and application method that suits your preferences and lifestyle, whether it's a lotion, cream, gel, spray, or stick. Additionally, look for sunscreens that offer added skincare benefits such as antioxidants, vitamins, and moisturizers to nourish and hydrate your skin. Finally, consider any specific needs you may have, such as a tinted sunscreen for a natural-looking glow or a water-resistant formula for outdoor activities. With the wide range of options available, you can find the perfect sunscreen to keep your skin protected and healthy. Here are some products we recommend.

  • Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 #1
  • Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 #2
  • Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 #3
  • Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 #4
  • Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 #5

Supergoop!

Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40

4.4
(1,160)
$ 40 .00
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Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 is a 100% mineral formula with broad spectrum protection that smooths skin and minimizes the look of pores.

Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40 is a great product for those looking to protect their skin from the sun's harmful rays. It offers broad spectrum protection as it is made with 100% minerals, so you can trust in its quality and effectiveness. It also leaves your skin with a lovely matte finish, making it look smoother and minimizing the appearance of pores. In addition, it has an incredibly lightweight feel that won't clog your pores or leave behind any sticky residue.

Why People Love This
  • Provides superior sun protection with SPF 40, effectively blocking harmful UV rays
  • Leaves a matte finish on the skin, reducing shine and giving a clean, fresh look
  • Contains mineral ingredients, making it a healthier and safer choice for skin care
  • Suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin, due to its gentle formulation
  • Does not leave a white cast or residue, ensuring a natural look
  • Light and non-greasy texture allows for comfortable wear throughout the day
  • Users appreciate its pleasant scent, adding to the overall enjoyable experience of using the product.
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #1
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #2
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #3
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #4
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #5
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #6
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #7
  • Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 #8

Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30

4.5
(3,208)
$ 38 .00
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Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30 provides powerful sun protection with a glow-enhancing finish. It shields against UVA and UVB rays, pollution, and blue light, leaving skin feeling moisturized and soft. It has a lightweight, non-greasy texture that makes it perfect for daily use. Plus, its formula is fragrance and oil-free so it won't irritate your skin!

Why People Love This
  • Provides Broad Spectrum SPF 30 protection, shielding skin from both UVA and UVB rays
  • The product has a gel formula that is light and non-greasy, making it comfortable to wear all day
  • Infused with glowing properties that enhance the skin's natural radiance
  • Suitable for daily use, allowing for consistent sun protection
  • Designed to protect the skin from environmental stressors, contributing to overall skin health
  • Users praise its quick absorption, which doesn't leave a white cast on the skin
  • Highly hydrating, helping to keep skin moisturized throughout the day
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #1
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #2
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #3
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #4
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #5
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #6
  • Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ #7

Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+

4.7
(1,330)
$ 32 .00
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Shiseido's Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ is a clear sunscreen stick with SPF 50+ that can be re-applied anytime, anywhere.

Shiseido's Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ is an award-winning product that provides reliable sun protection with its broad-spectrum SPF 50+. The clear sunscreen stick is convenient to use as it can be re-applied anytime and anywhere, and it can even be used over or under makeup. Its portability also makes it an ideal choice for those who are always on the go.

Why People Love This
  • Provides high SPF 50+ protection, effectively shielding skin from harmful UV rays
  • Comes in a convenient stick form for easy application, as praised by many users
  • Offers clear application, leaving no white residue on the skin
  • Its water-resistant formula ensures protection even when swimming or sweating
  • Many users appreciate its non-greasy feel after application, making it comfortable to wear
  • The product is fragrance-free, ideal for those sensitive to strong scents
  • Loved for its compact size, making it travel-friendly and easy to carry around

FAQ

a young boy is applying sunscreen to his face on the beach

How early should I start applying sunscreen to my child?

You can start applying sunscreen to your child as soon as they turn 6 months old. Sunscreen is not safe for babies younger than 6 months. Instead, avoid direct sun exposure and use protective clothing.

Is there a difference between adult and kids' sunscreen?

Kids sunscreen is formulated to be gentler on the skin compared to most adult sunscreens. They often contain fewer allergens and irritants, making them more suitable for a child’s sensitive skin.

Can I use sunscreen on my child’s face?

Yes, you should apply sunscreen to your child’s entire body, including their face. For the facial area, consider using a stick sunscreen that is less likely to drip into and irritate the eyes.

How much sunscreen should I apply on my child?

For each application, aim to use about one ounce, roughly the size of a golf ball, to cover an average child’s body. Adjust the amount based on your child’s size.

What do I do if my child gets sunscreen in their eyes?

Rinse their eyes with lukewarm water or saline eye drops immediately. If irritation persists, consult a healthcare professional.

How can I protect my child’s skin on cloudy days?

Apply sunscreen even on cloudy days, as up to 80% of UV rays can still penetrate the clouds and harm the skin.

What should I look for in sunscreen if my child has eczema?

Look for sunscreens labeled as suitable for sensitive skin, fragrance-free, and preferably mineral-based, containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are less likely to irritate eczema-prone skin.

How do I remove sunscreen from my child’s skin?

Use gentle, soap-free cleansers designed for sensitive skin and lukewarm water. You might need to wash twice to remove all traces of sunscreen.

Can wearing sunscreen lead to vitamin D deficiency in my child?

While sunscreen blocks some UVB rays necessary for vitamin D synthesis, short periods of sun exposure without sunscreen are generally enough to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. For concerns about vitamin D, consult your pediatrician.

Is it necessary to apply sunscreen if my child is wearing UV-protective clothing?

Yes, apply sunscreen to all exposed areas not covered by UV-protective clothing. This includes the face, hands, and feet. UV-protective clothing does not replace the need for sunscreen on exposed skin.

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