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13 Worst-Rated Sunscreens for Kids

Health + Wellness

Applying a safe, effective sunscreen to children is one key to protecting them from sun damage. Sunscreen should never be your child's first line of defense against the sun, of course, and the reality is that some products fall short.


Here's what to avoid:

  • Spray sunscreens. These products can be inhaled and may not cover skin completely.
  • SPF values above 50+. Products touting high SPF values try to trick you into believing they'll prevent sun damage. Don't trust them. SPFs of 30 to 50 are enough for even very pale skin.
  • Oxybenzone. This common sunscreen ingredient has been linked to hormone system disruption.
  • Retinyl palmitate. This ingredient may actually trigger damage to sun-exposed skin.

Here's a list of the worst-rated sunscreens for kids from the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) 2016 Guide to Sunscreens.

Each of these products has at least three strikes against it: sky-high SPFs and the potentially harmful ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Four are aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs.

Keep these 13 sunscreens out of your shopping cart.

1. Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

2. Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

3. Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray, Kids, SPF 70

4. Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70+

5. Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70+

6. Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+

7. CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55

8, CVS Kids Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+

9. Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

10. Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70

11. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+

12. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 70+

13. Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

EWG's 2016 Guide to Sunscreens also lists the best-scoring sunscreens for kids.

Remember: It takes only a few blistering sunburns during childhood to double a person's lifetime chance of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. The best defenses against getting too much harmful UV radiation are protective clothing, shade and timing. Practice these sun safety habits to keep your children safe in the sun:

  • Cover up. Wide-brimmed hats or visors and loose-fitting shirts, shorts and pants block harmful UV rays.
  • Wear sunglasses. A good pair will help shield eyes from the UV radiation that causes cataracts.
  • Stay in the shade. Whenever kids are outdoors, keep them in the shade as much as possible. Keep infants under six months out of direct sun.
  • Schedule outdoor time. Go outdoors in early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is lower.

Want more tips? Visit EWG's Sun Safety Campaign.

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