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Looking to keep your little one’s delicate skin safe from the sun’s harmful rays without slathering them in a cocktail of chemicals? Well, fear not, sun-worshipping parents! We’ve got you covered with the scoop on the best non toxic sunscreen for babies.
Say goodbye to the days of worrying about your baby turning into a mini science experiment and hello to guilt-free sun-filled adventures. So, grab your shades, prepare for some giggles, and let’s dive into the world of baby-safe sun protection.
- Why spending time outdoors is beneficial
- The best non toxic sunscreen for babies
- What ingredients are safe and what to avoid
- Other ways to protect your baby’s
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Why is Protecting Baby’s Skin Important?
A baby’s skin is much thinner and more delicate than adult skin. Even babies with dark skin pigmentation are much more likely to burn or have skin irritation from the sun. Babies also can’t tell you when they are getting too hot and need to get out of the sun. For those reasons the AAP recommends that infants and babies under 6 months of age avoid direct sunlight.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid the outdoors entirely. There are many benefits for both mom and baby of spending time outside.
Why Is Playing Outside Important?
Being outside in nature has so many benefits! Starting young and exposing your child to the outdoors can lead to lifelong healthy habits in nature. Getting your baby outside can be one of the best things you can do.
Nature is a natural teacher. It teaches your baby about their world. Research has shown that more time outdoors leads to better physical, mental, and emotional development.
Physical Health: More time outdoors has shown to lead to better motor development, lower obesity rates, and lower cases of myopia (nearsightedness). Spending time outdoors helps us make vitamin D for our bodies healthy bone development. However, this shouldn’t be your only way to get vitamin D.
A study done in India found that even with intense sun exposure, 90% of the studied infants continued to have Vitamin D insufficiency.
If you are using sun as a way for your little one to get enough vitamin D it may be causing more harm than good. Check out the best vitamin D supplement for infants as an alternative.
Outdoor time contributes to better sleep. Exposure to more natural light especially early morning light helps to regulate melatonin levels, more alertness during the day, and can lead to earlier and better nighttime sleep.
Playing in the dirt and being exposed to healthy bacteria, parasites, and viruses can also lead to healthier immune systems. Children who spend a lot of time in ultra-clean environments often have higher rates of asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. Letting your baby get their hands dirty is a great idea.
Mental health: Exposure to nature is actually calming to babies and children’s minds. It can decrease anxiety and stress. Lead to lower levels of depression in older children.
It can also lead to decreased ADHD symptoms and greater focus and longer attention spans.
Emotional Health: Nature can again help little ones learn to regulate their emotions. It can lead to positive emotions like joy, calm, and creativity due to increasing serotonin levels.
What are the Best Non Toxic Sunscreen for Babies?
As this is the best non toxic sunscreens I have avoided all chemical sunscreens. They contain too many ingredients that have not been proven to be safe. Therefore you will only find mineral sunscreens on this list. Mineral sunscreens tend to be a little more expensive, but hopefully you can find one that fits within your budget that meets your needs.
Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen
If you are looking for a safe mineral sunscreen that won’t break the bank this is one of them. Babo botanicals is an EWG verified protect. It’s active ingredient is mineral zinc oxide one of the only active ingredients cleared by the FDA as safe to provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection against sun damage. It is fragrance free and has 24 other organic ingredients that help it not only work effectively but nourish your baby’s skin.
- EWG verified
- Free of many common allergies
- Fragrance free
- Certified B Corp Business
- Thick product and can leave a white cast on the skin.
Earth Mama Baby Mineral Sunscreen
Earthmama is a great company that makes so many pregnancy safe and baby safe products. Although products are marketed towards moms or babies many of their products are safe for the whole family. So do your research and save yourself some money by purchasing one product for the whole family.
- Natural organic ingredients
- Comes in both a stick and lotion
- Fragrance free and chemical free
- EWG rating of 1
- Product something separates
- Difficult to get out of the tube (the company recommends getting the tube warm in hot water or sit out in the sun. Kneading the ingredients and then try to use).
- White tint
Badger is a zinc oxide mineral sunscreen that has very simple natural ingredients. It uses natural zinc oxide to provide a broad spectrum coverage for sun protection. Along with simple inactive ingredients that soothe and nourish the skin. Badger makes both baby sunscreen, kids sunscreen, and sunscreen stick for easy face application.
- Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection SPF 40
- Made with only 7 ingredients
- Nourishes skin
- Thick and hard to apply
- Natural products may separate prior to use and my need to be shaken well before use
Wax Head Baby Sunscreen
Wax Head products are definitely more on the luxury product coming in at $33.99 per 4 oz. They use only the best ingredients in their products and limit to only a total of 6 ingredients. So no fluff! It is a non nano zinc oxide 25% to provide broad spectrum coverage from the sun. This is one of the highest contents of any other brand to truly give you great protection from the sun. It also has added vitamin D to help protect skin and improve overall Vitamin D levels in babies and kids.
- Made with only 6 ingredients
- Non greasy
- Fragrance free
- Broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection
- Expensive $$$
ThinkBaby Mineral Sunscreen
Thinkbaby provides a go between the super natural and chemical sunscreens. They still use BPA free packaging and avoid any phalates, or other toxic ingredients. Their active ingredient is non nano clear zinc oxide so it won’t leave a white cast to your skin. It comes in a SPF 30, SPF 50, and a stick sunscreen to meet your many different needs. This gives you a clean safe sunscreen that is effective against UVA and UVB rays. It is easier to apply and smoother finish than some of the more natural organic brands.
- Rated 3 by EWG
- Aloe and Vitamin E added to cool and condition skin
- Fragrance and toxin free
- More affordable price compared to other natural mineral sunscreens
- Can be difficult to wash off after use
- Needs to be applied frequently like most mineral sunscreens
What Types of Sunscreens Are Available?
Mineral Sunscreen: act as a reflective barrier to UV light. Mineral sunscreens are made up of either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both. They don’t actually absorb into your skin. Because they are actually creating a physical barrier between your skin and the UV rays it is the most effective method of sun protection.
They often appear more white or chalky on your skin. Some can be tinted to allow them to blend into your skin more seamlessly.
Chemical Sunscreen: actually absorb UV rays and change their chemical structure to reduce the negative impacts. These types of sunscreens are less effective and often need to be applied more frequently.
Both mineral and chemical sunscreens can come in a few different forms:
Lotion: Is a tried and true method to protect your child’s skin. This is one of the recommended products to use to protect your children from the sun by the FDA and the EWG (environmental working group). Lotions and creams are generally a safer option.
Stick: This is a great option to avoid some of the mess that you typically get with lotion. It’s an easy swipe of the face, hands, arms. Then rub it in and you are good to go play in the park, hit the splash pad, or go for a walk in the stroller.
Stick sunscreen also reduces the risk of lotion dripping into the eyes and becoming uncomfortable when applying to the face.
Whatever you are doing it is a fast easy way to protect your child’s skin.
Spray: Most aerosol sunscreens contain the chemical benzene, which is a cancer causing ingredient. Benzene and other toxic chemicals are used to propel the product out of the bottle and can be very harmful to your children or babies.
These chemicals are not only absorbed through the skin but also inhaled when they are sprayed. The FDA has recently recalled many aerosol sunscreens due to benzene and other similar harmful chemicals.
How do you Choose a Baby Safe Sunscreen?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a baby safe sunscreen.
Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen, one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 or higher. SPF 15-30 should be enough for most people. It is questionable whether SPF 50 and higher actually is more protective.
Avoid sprays or powders as they can accidentally be inhaled into their lungs. Opt for a sunscreen that is free off harmful chemicals.
Why Should You Avoid Chemical Sunscreen?
Chemical sunscreens can be full of toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your body. It can also be harmful to aquatic ecosystems around the world.
In 2021 The FDA made new recommendations when it comes to sunscreen. They found that only two ingredients are truly safe and effective to protect your skin against the suns rays based on the current research. Those two ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Other ingredients can be absorbed into your body systemically through your skin and wreak havoc on your endocrine system, skin, and lungs.
What Ingredients Should you Avoid?
- Oxybenzone– Is probably the most dangerous sunscreen ingredient. It is easily absorbed into through the skin with just one time use. It can cause allergic skin reactions, is linked to hormone disruption, increased risk for breast cancer and endometriosis. Several countries have banned the use in sunscreens due to the damage it does to aquatic life.
- Octinoxate/ octyl methoxycinnamate– Is very easily absorbed into the skin, and has been found in blood samples of many individuals at levels that are 16x higher than what is considered safe by the FDA. Animal Studies show that it can negatively affect metabolic system and thyroid hormone production. There is some evidence that it could also be affecting androgen and progesterone signaling.
- Retinyl Palmitate – is added to sunscreens to reduce the effects of aging from sun exposure. It however, can be very harmful and is most likely not worth the reduced anti aging effects. It has been linked to speeding up development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight. It could contribute to Vitamin A toxicity when combined with excessive sun exposure. It can also lead to hyperplasia and cause damage to DNA by forming small molecules called free radicals.
- Homosalate – is another ingredient that can easily penetrate the skin and lead to hormone disruption and create toxic byproducts as it breaks down in your system over time.
- Octisalate – The FDA has been unable to determine if it is safe and effective to be used in sunscreens. Some studies show it could be linked to contact dermatitis, have endocrine disrupting effects by binding with estrogen receptors.
- Octocrylene– Also readily absorbs into the skin and is linked to aquatic toxicity, damaging our coral reefs. It is frequently contaminated with benzophenone, which is known to cause cancer.
- Methylisothiazolinone – this is an ingredient that is used as a preservative and can be very harmful. It has been linked to lung toxicity, allergic reactions and possibly neurotoxic.
- Avobenzone– is not a stable organic UVA filter and must be paired with other ingredients to stabilize it to prevent breakdown in the sun. Abobenzone has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, cause allergic reactions, and block the effects of testosterone.
Many of these ingredients that can be found in many sunscreens such as: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone are all systemically absorbed into the body after one single use.
These chemicals can also be ingested into the GI system if you put them on your lips, and into your lungs if you use spray or powder forms.
These ingredients are recognized as not safe by the FDA due to insufficient data: avobenzone, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, padimate O, and sulisobenzone. EWG
How do you Apply Sunscreen on Babies?
Applying sunscreen can really become a challenge the more mobile your baby becomes. Do your best to get good coverage.
- Use enough sunscreen to cover the whole body. Make sure you rub the sunscreen in well.
- Start with your baby’s feet and move up your baby’s body. Try to get into all those beautiful baby creases.
- Make sure you roll your baby over onto their belly and get their back side and neck.
- Then apply sunscreen to the face, including cheeks, chin, ears, neck, lips and nose. Rub it in all the way to the hairline.
- A stick sunscreen might be easier to use when applying sunscreen to your babies face. As they get older they may enjoy helping you apply it.
- Reapply as needed (when getting out of pool or sweating) and every 2 hours.
What Other Ways Can I Protect My Babies Skin?
Sunscreen is not the only way to protect your babies skin and should not be the only way to protect your children. Here are some great tips to give your little one full sun protection!
Protective Clothing, Hats, Swimsuits, and/or Rash guards:
Sunscreen application is not always perfect and needs to be reapplied. To help protect your babies skin you can use clothing that is SPF or UPF rated.
If you don’t have SPF or UPF items look for clothing with a tighter weave. You can determine this easily by lifting up the item to the light and see how well you can see daylight through the item of clothing. The less light you can see the clothing the more protective it will be.
When it comes to sunglasses after 6 months of age look for toddler or youth sunglasses that are 99% UV protection.
Choose hats that have at least a 3″ rim around it. Bring the bucket hats back! This will help to protect their ears, neck, and face from the damaging sun’s rays.
Avoid Peak Sun Hours:
The UV index is usually highest from 11am-4pm daily. During those hours try to look for shade, use and umbrella, or use protective clothing and accessories to protect your baby’s skin.
You can also check the UV index rating on your phone prior to going out. If the number is 3 or higher your children need full sun protection while outside. Even on cloudy days 80% of the UV rays can get through the clouds. UV rays also reflect off of water, sand, snow, or concrete.
Find Some Shade or Make Some Shade:
During the peak hours of the day always look for some shade. If you are in an area where shade is hard to come by try to make your own. Bring a large umbrella or pull down stroller/wagon shades to protect your baby’s skin.
Get creative if you need to. Being outdoors is great for your child and for you own mental, physical, and emotional health. You don’t need to avoid it, just be prepared.
So there you have it, my fellow outdoorsy product conscious mamas! Now that you have this handy guide for the best non toxic sunscreen for babies you can now embrace worry free outdoor playtime with your little ones. Remember protecting your little one’s skin is serious business, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun along the way. So go on and slather on that sunscreen and let the giggles, smiles, and sunkissed memories fill your days. With these safe and effective options, you can rest easy knowing you baby is protected from harm. Happy sun adventures mama!
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.