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11 best baby sunscreens that are high in SPF and easy to apply

Protect their sensitive skin with these sprays, creams and sticks that’ll sink in quickly

Sarah Jane Corfield Smith
Wednesday 30 March 2022 11:42
<p>Every sunscreen we tested has a minimum SPF30 and protects against UVA and UVB rays</p>

Every sunscreen we tested has a minimum SPF30 and protects against UVA and UVB rays

Making sure your baby is safe and their skin is protected in the sun is of paramount importance. NHS advice is to keep your small person out of direct sunlight, especially if they are under six months.

“Covering your children’s skin is key,” says skin expert, Dr Sam Bunting. “Use hats with neck protectors, have a pram with a canopy and for small exposed areas, like the face or the back of hands, use a high factor mineral sunscreen.”

She adds that, “Children’s skin is much more sensitive to UV damage than adult skin,” and warns that “repeated injury from UV exposure could predispose to skin cancer developing in later life.” But what do you need to be looking out for when it comes to SPF for your baby or toddler?

“You need a high factor, broad-spectrum, mineral sunscreen,” says Dr Bunting. “You may find that anything with a fragrance in it can irritate young, sensitive skin so a fragrance free sunscreen is always a good option.”

You’ll also need to be consistent with slathering it on too. She advises applying the first layer 15-20 minutes before going outside and to reapply generously every 2 hours – or more frequently if children are swimming. “Under-dosing and not reapplying frequently enough is probably the most common mistake parents make.” Says Dr Bunting. “And remember to apply it to the eyelids, under the armpits, the feet and the tops of the ears as these are spots that often get missed.”

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How we tested

We have slathered, rubbed and sprayed on sunscreens to our small and willing helpers to find the best SPFs for you. Every sunscreen tested has a minimum SPF30, are broad spectrum (which means they protect against UVA and UVB rays) and come in an array of applicators and options. Meaning all you have to do is find the best fit for your family, pop a hat on, find the shade and enjoy the sunshine.

The best baby sunscreens for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – La Roche-Posay Anthelios baby lotion SPF50+, 50ml: £11, Boots.com
  • Best for sensitive skin – Avène very high protection lotion for children SPF50+, 100ml: £12.80, Boots.com
  • Best for easy application – Lancaster sun sensitive kids water resistant milky spray SPF50+, 150ml: £14.20, Notino.co.uk
  • Best budget buy – Solait Kids 50+ moisturising sun lotion, 200ml: £4.99, Superdrug.com
  • Best luxury buy – Ultrasun kids SPF50+, 150ml: £30, Ultrasun.co.uk
  • Best for hydration – Nivea sun kids sensitive protect & care 50+, 200ml: £6.50, Tesco.com
  • Best consistency – Evy sunscreen mousse SPF30, 150ml: £25, Evy.uk.com
  • Best organic buy – Green People organic children sun cream SPF30, 150ml: £21.50, Greenpeople.co.uk
  • Best pocket-sized sunscreen –  Soltan kids suncare stick 50+, 25g: £3.50, Boots.com
  • Best eco buy – Garnier ambre solaire kids sensitive advanced protection spray SPF 50+, 200ml: £8, Tesco.com
  • Best for on-the-go touch ups – Child’s Farm 50+ SPF roll-on sun lotion, 70ml: £9.99, Superdrug.com

La Roche-Posay Anthelios baby lotion SPF50+, 50ml

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

As a new parent all you want is the reassurance that you’re doing the right thing for your baby. And when it comes to SPF, this is honestly the best one you can put on their skin. It has been specifically designed for babies so you know it’s not going to irritate their delicate skin, especially if your baby does react to products, has eczema or sensitive skin.

It has brilliant broad-spectrum SPF so slathering it on is like the equivalent of applying a sun protective security blanket over them. And while it is a bit more pricey than others out there, when they are so little it really is worth investing a bit more on a great product that you know is going to work. It comes with a handy pump applicator making it easy to get on, especially if you only have one hand spare, and the bottle is a great size for throwing in the nappy bag or pram so you can keep topping up when you’re out and about.

Avène very high protection lotion for children SPF50+, 100ml

Best: For sensitive skin

Rating: 9/10

When it comes to sensitive skin you know you’re in safe hands with French pharmacy brand, Avène. All its products contain the soothing Avène thermal spring water, which not only hydrates the skin but contains ingredients that prevent skin from becoming irritated. As a lot of suncreams can cause skin to become unhappy, this is a great option for any little ones prone to eczema, rashes or itchy skin. And we can confirm that it didn’t irritate our tiny tester who has small patches of eczema in the crooks of her elbows and the backs of her knees.

It has a lovely light, creamy texture that gets absorbed quickly making a full head-to-toe application take just a few seconds, and leaves the skin feeling soft, smooth and not greasy at all. The tube applicator is faff-free too. While this may not be the sexiest of SPFs, it is reliable, does exactly what it needs to and does that exceptionally well, so what else could you want?

Lancaster sun sensitive kids water resistant milky spray SPF50+, 150ml

Best: For easy application

Rating: 8/10

French skincare brand, Lancaster, knows a thing or two about how to create a great suntan lotion and the children’s SPF is no exception. Not only does the high factor protect against UVA and UVB rays, but also visible light and infrared rays too. It comes in a good-sized spray bottle and when we say it’s easy to get on, we mean it. Even on the wriggliest toddler, you can use this spray upside down, sideways, however you need to contort yourself to make sure it’s on, and on properly.

The consistency is milky but it’s not so runny you can’t ensure that it’s rubbed in properly. And it sinks in immediately, leaving no cast or greasy-oily residue behind. Plus, it can be applied to both dry and wet skin – an absolute saviour for poolside holidays.

Solait Kids 50+ moisturising sun lotion, 200ml

Best: Budget buy

Rating: 9.5/10

This is a suncream that has been designed with the idea of making parents’ lives easier and engaging children to want to have SPF put on them – not always the easiest of feats. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have brilliant sun protection credentials, it absolutely does. It has 5 star UVA and UVB protection and it is extra water resistant, making it ideal for summer holidays spent by the sea or the pool.

But what won our little ones over was the fact that it was slime green and “smells like apples”. They wanted to rub it in themselves and were more than happy to have more of it sprayed on with the “suncream pistol”. The spray gun applicator not only makes it quicker to get lots of suncream on small bodies but it makes it more fun too, which is half the battle won. And thankfully the trigger has a safety catch that a grown-up can easily click up and down to make it work, and little fingers can’t quite manipulate, so you won’t end up with suncream going everywhere. So simple, but so genius.

Ultrasun kids SPF50+, 150ml

Best: Luxury buy

Rating: 8/10

Ultrasun is a sun care brand you can trust through and through thanks to the amount of awards its products have won over the years. And this SPF50+ for kids can do no wrong in our eyes. Not only does it offer exceptionally high protection, making it a great choice for babies and children with fair skin, but it contains a unique ingredient called Celligent, which future proofs the skin from sun damage as it delivers additional cell protection.

The formula is water-resistant, reef-friendly, vegan and also non-comedogenic which means it won’t block pores – this may not be a huge concern for your babies but if are a family with older children who break out in spots thanks to the combo of sweat and suncream, then this is for them too. It comes in a handy pump applicator and while the product does feel quite thick to begin with, it is exceptionally easy to rub in and leaves the skin feeling velvety smooth. It is not the cheapest suncream, which is why it didn’t get the top spot, but you are getting what you pay for with this.

Nivea sun kids sensitive protect & care 50+, 200ml

Best: For hydration

Rating: 8/10

As you would expect from any Nivea suncream, this has stellar UV protection and it also contains aloe-vera to help soothe skin against sun-induced irritations. Sadly it doesn’t contain the standard Nivea sun tan lotion, arguably one of the best scents in the world, but that does make it perfect for sensitive and delicate skin. It sinks in immediately and the skin does feel slightly creamy after but our little ones didn’t seem to mind that.

The formulation is 76 per cent biodegradable and doesn’t contain filters which some believe to be damaging to the ocean. And the squirty bottle is made from 95 per cent post consumer recycled plastics. So if you’re looking for a mass market SPF that is making moves to help save the planet, then this is a very good option.

Evy sunscreen mousse SPF30, 150ml

Best: Consistency

Rating: 8/10

It’s hard to believe that a suncream can be unique, but we promise you this one will be unlike any others you have tried before.

Firstly, the consistency. It squirts out as a mousse (FYI: make sure you give the bottle a good shake each time you use it to ensure no extra gas escapes) but as you rub it between your hands, it magically transforms into an almost balm-like consistency making it very easy to rub onto the skin. You can even use it on the face and apply it into the hairline and onto the scalp, unlike many other mousse SPFs that are too oily and greasy for that.

Then there’s the technology behind it. It contains components that sink deeper into the skin than other SPFs, which means it protects not only the surface layers of skin but the deeper ones too. It is super gentle, making it perfect for sensitive baby skin but has also been approved by the Vitiligo Association. As well as the factor 30 it does also come in SPF50 so Evy have got all sun protection bases covered.

Green People organic children sun cream SPF30, 150ml

Best: Organic buy

Rating: 8/10

Containing 84 per cent certified organic ingredients and carrying Vegetarian Society and Cruelty Free official certifications, if you’re looking for an SPF with a side of genuine green credentials then this is the one for you and your baby. Not only that but with every tube bought, Green People donate 20p to the Marine Conservation Society.

Now to the suncream itself. It has a gorgeous buttery consistency, which makes it feel like you’re using a regular body lotion on your little one, just with a hefty dose of SPF thrown in. This is thanks to the avocado and olive oil it contains, and because it is so moisturising it’s a great choice for children with drier skins or eczema. It does leave a very slight cast immediately after applying but this did disappear after a few minutes. It’s also scent-free and comes in a smaller size making it perfect for throwing in the nappy bag for a day at the park or keeping in the pram for easy top-ups when you’re out and about.

Soltan kids suncare stick 50+, 25g

Best: Pocket-sized

Rating: 8/10

While this balm-like stick wouldn’t be appropriate for head-to-toe suncream applications we couldn’t not include it because it is the perfect suncream to keep in the nappy bag or even your own handbag for easy, on the go top-ups. Thanks to its solid consistency it is really easy for gliding over smaller areas that often get overlooked with creams, such as the tops of ears, the back of the neck and in-between the squishy skin rolls on new born babies. You don’t need to rub it in, just make sure you give the skin a good covering, it will feel slightly tacky to the touch so you know you’ve covered the area, and then let it work its protective magic. Like all Soltan suncream it has brilliant 5 star protection so even though this is small, it’s doing a big job.

Garnier ambre solaire kids sensitive advanced protection spray SPF 50+, 200ml

Best: Eco buy

Rating: 9/10

Not only is this brilliant suncream water resistant, it also contains very clever Netlock technology that’s unique to the brand. This helps the sun lotion stay in place no matter what you put it through, and we put it through its paces and it kept our little one’s skin protected in sand, chlorine and sweat! The spray is quite “‘excitable” so we recommend spraying it into your hands first and then applying it to your little one rather than spraying it directly onto the skin.

One more thing that’s incredibly important to mention is the amazing eco strides Garnier is taking. It has made a commitment to have zero virgin plastic use by 2025 and this franchise of suntan lotion is the first to be made from 100 per cent recycled materials and is fully recyclable. So it’s nice to know that as you’re getting through bottles of the stuff this summer, your purchase is having less of an impact on the environment.

Child’s Farm 50+ SPF roll-on sun lotion, 70ml

Best: For on the go touch-ups

Rating: 8.5/10 

This genius roll-on SPF glides on super easily and while we wouldn’t use it around the eyes, just in case it got in, you can swipe it up and down arms and legs, over the forehead, up the cheeks, down the nose and across the chin to get plenty on. The formula is water-resistant and ideal for eczema prone skin as it doesn’t contain anything that will cause flare ups. You may want to use one of the brand’s bigger sized bottles for full applications as this roll-on is small. Howeer it is ideal for touch-ups, small babies and for getting older children actively involved with applying SPF on themselves.

Baby sunscreen FAQs

What else should I consider before buying?

Other elements to consider are chemical or mineral (physical) sunscreens. While the former are more economical and easy to apply, thicker mineral sunblocks are the environmentally-friendly option, though they can leave a white residue on skin.

Dr Worsnop explains that, “mineral sunscreens are less irritating to the sensitive skin of infants and children. They act like a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays... compared to chemical sunscreen, which absorbs rather than deflects the UV.”

Regardless of which formula you favour, be sure to use lashings of it. “Sun cream should be applied generously and frequently,” Dr Worsnop says. To make it easier, there’s options aplenty, including: lotions, sprays, pumps, roll-ons and even mousses.

The verdict: Baby sunscreens

Our best buy goes to La Roche-Posay Anthelios baby lotion SPF50+, as when it comes to protecting delicate skin in the sun it ticks all the boxes parents are looking for. Avène very high protection lotion for children SPF50+ came a very close second for the exact same reasons, but we also loved Solait kids 50+ moisturising sun lotion for making suntan lotion a far more fun experience for everyone involved.

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To protect yourself as well as your little one from the sun, we’ve rounded up the best facial sunscreens for daily protection

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