The best and worst sunscreens for your summer fun

Summer is here and for most moms, that means lots of outdoor play! This summer, I set out on a mission to find the holy grail of sunscreens for me and my kids- and these are my favorites!

By Lizzie Horton

Family Fun

Lifestyle

Lizzie's List

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about lizzie’s list

All About the Mom Founder, Lizzie loves to share tips, reviews, and stories that other moms might find useful and entertaining. Lizzie’s List is the roundup of all of her favorites and there’s something for everyone!

Summer is finally here!

If you are anything like me, that means your kids will end up spending a lot of time outdoors, in the sun and you will fly through sunscreen. There are so many choices when it comes to sunscreen, but some can be harmful to your babies.

If you don’t know this about me already, I live in South Florida and pretty much have to lather my 3 kids in sunscreen all year long. Finding the perfect sunscreen for my kiddos has proven to be tough. I have a tiny tot I prefer to have in baby sunscreen, a young boy who sweats and swims everything off, and a daughter who suffers from eczema flare ups. Sunscreen seems to always make her eczema worse!

I decided to put a ton of sunscreens to the test to see if I could find the holy grail of sunscreens. My goal? To find one that prevents burns, rubs on easily, blends in, and stays on without giving my baby a rash or my oldest an eczema flareup!

What you should know: there are two main types of sunscreen.

Chemical Sunscreen

These block the sun’s rays by absorbing the rays like a sponge. They convert the sun’s rays to heat, and then your skin will release the heat. Look for ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate. This is where you have to be careful.

The FDA has been studying these chemicals and released information in 2020 saying that some of these chemicals work as an endocrine disruptor and can increase the risk of breast cancer and endometriosis. They also published findings that the chemicals are absorbed more than initially thought. That being said, they are much more popular because they are translucent, often unnoticeable, and you can walk around without looking like Casper the ghost. The worst one of these is oxybenzone. I would highly recommend making sure your sunscreen is oxybenzone free.

Mineral Sunscreen

This works to create a barrier on the skin, which will block the sun’s rays. Most of these contain some type of zinc or titanium dioxide and are harder to rub in, because they are designed to stay on the surface. Therefore, you normally have some sort of a white hue to the skin after use.

The test

We put 8 sunscreens to the test. We sunbathed, swam and played sports and here are my favorite contenders.

Here are my favorites, in order!

  1. Super Goop PLAY

    $58.00 on AmazonI loved this sunscreen! I applied the SPF 50 Everyday Lotion to our kids, and this was by far our favorite. It is pricey though. It goes on smooth, leaves no white residue, and kept both of my older children burn free for 8 hours on the beach and we never reapplied. My daughter also said she had no burning when this sunscreen was applied, and we had no eczema flare ups afterwards. This is a chemical sunscreen, but it does not contain Oxybenzone. 

  2. Bare Republic Clearscreen Lotion

    $14.99 on Amazon

    We tested the SPF 100 and it lasted all day. I love the way this sunscreen goes on. It is easy to apply, rubs in easily, and smells fresh and light. It is vegan and cruelty free as well. While packaging says it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, in my experience it lasted longer. It comes in a lotion and a spray. Again, maybe not ideal for children with skin issues. My daughter had some minor discomfort when this hit her eczema spots, but otherwise didn’t complain at all. This is Oxybenzone free. 

  3. MD Solar Sciences KidStick SPF 40

    $20.00 on Amazon

    What a great sunscreen stick! My older kids loved applying this one all by themselves. It goes on really easily, nice and smooth! This is a mineral based sunscreen that did its job, and the kids avoided the white hue. I would highly recommend this sunscreen! This is free of oybenzone.

     

  4. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 70


    $26.91 on AmazonThough I stayed away from Neutrogena sunscreens for a bit when the oxybenzone scare was first published, I am now a fan again. Neutrogena has removed the oxybenzone from their sunscreen and this mist is fantastic. It goes on well, doesn’t cause skin flareups for my daughter and it smells great! We have tested on the beach and my kids remain burn free as long as I apply every 90 minutes or so.

  5. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen


    $9.49 on Amazon

    We tested the spray 50 sunscreen. I like this sunscreen! It does a great job if you prefer the spray kind, and the kids don’t get burnt if you reapply after the pool or the beach. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for little ones with skin conditions. My daughter complained this one burned the back of her legs in her eczema spots. I also don’t like to use sprays on babies. This is free of oxybenzone. 

  6. Babyganics Stick


    $13.96 on Amazon

    This SPF- 50+ mineral stick is a mainstay at my house. It does keep the skin protected, but I would recommend this as a face stick only. It is thick and hard to rub in and it does leave a bit of a white stain to the skin. It is ideal for under the eyes, on the nose and forehead and it will prevent a burn! This is a great option for babies and young kids. This is free of oxybenzone.

  7. Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 50


    $9.97 on Amazon
    This is a go to sunscreen for many moms. It’s widely available and is a mineral based sunscreen. While it definitely works for sun protection it is my least favorite of the group. I find that it causes eczema flare ups pretty quickly for my daughter, and it leaves a white residue on the skin that is hard to rub in. This is free of oxybenzone. 

  8. Banana Boat Kids Sport 50


    $3.99 on Amazon

    This is a great bargain sunscreen. It won’t cost a fortune, but it works. We used this sunscreen at a theme park. It passed our sweat and water ride test. I would recommend reapplying every couple of hours, however, to avoid getting burned. This does contain Oxybenzone, so use only if you are comfortable doing so. 

 

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