Family health

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Sunscreens are specifically marketed towards babies, kids and adults, but if you have a family that spans several life stages, do you have to tote around a separate bottle for everyone? We asked a dermatologist.

By Charlotte Herrold

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Photo: Stocksy United

Wondering if you can share sunscreen with your kid and carry one less bottle in your beach bag? According to Sonya Abdulla, a dermatologist at Dermatology on Bloor in Toronto, the difference between sunscreen for adults and kids comes down to potential skin irritants. Most drugstore formulas contain ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone, which work by absorbing UV rays and dissipating them as heat through a chemical reaction. While these ingredients are effective, they aren’t the best for those with reactive skin. And because babies and kids generally have more sensitivities, sun care products made with them in mind often avoid these potentially irritating ingredients.

“Children’s formulations tend to limit fragrance and are often mineral-based, with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,” Abdulla explains. These sun barriers don’t penetrate the skin but rather sit on top and act like a mirror to reflect the sun’s rays. But not all kids’ sunscreens are mineral-based, so if your child reacts to their sunscreen, consider switching.

When it comes to babies, Health Canada suggests keeping them out of direct sunlight and not using sunscreen until after six months of age. “Physical protection, like clothing and shade, is the strategy of choice for babies,” says Abdulla. “But limited amounts of mineral sunscreen can be applied on exposed areas that may be more difficult to cover, like the face, hands and feet.”

The good news is that more and more sunscreen manufacturers are becoming savvy to the benefits of reducing chemicals, even in products marketed to adults. Many are now offering broad-spectrum mineral-based sunscreens, which start working the minute you put them on. If you use these products, you can feel comfortable sharing them with your kids. Whatever sunscreen you choose, Abdulla recommends a minimum of SPF 30 and suggests reapplying every two hours, or after swimming or heavy sweating.

La Roche-Posay Athelios XL Melt-in Cream SPF 50

Get head-to-toe protection against UVA and UVB rays with this new take on an old favourite. The cream literally “melts” into your skin for a non-greasy finish that leaves skin feeling soft. $30, laroche-posay.ca

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Aleva Naturals Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 45

The whole family can use this tube of broad spectrum sunblock that also contains skin moisturizers like coconut oil and avocado oil. $20, amazon.ca

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Thinksport Kids Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

This tube is one-and-done for the whole family for a day at the beach. Water resistant up to 80 minutes and gentle enough for the littlest littles. $35, well.ca

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Green Beaver Kids Natural Mineral Sunscreen Touch Up Stick SPF 30

Made with natural and certified organic ingredients, including Canadian-grown organic raspberry, this easy-to-apply SPF 30 sunscreen stick keeps your little one’s skin safe and soft. $15, greenbeaver.com

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Vichy Ideal Soleil Lip Protection Stick SPF 30

Protect pouts big and small from UV damage and the drying effects of the sun with this nourishing balm. $15, well.ca

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen

A blend of rich organic jojoba and soothing aloe nourishes your skin while this water-resistant formula shields from sun damage, whether you’re on the dock or swimming in the lake. $25, sephora.com

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30

A non-nano zinc oxide formulation that comes in a non-aerosol, air-powered canister (without the potentially harmful propellant chemicals) makes this a safer spray you can use on the whole family. $46, Beautycounter.com

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Cocoon Apothecary Reflector SPF 30 Facial Sun Protection

This mineral sunscreen will deflect damaging UV rays and nourish your complexion, thanks to the addition of sea buckthorn seed oil and shea butter. $30, cocoonapothecary.ca

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Consonant Skincare The Perfect Sunscreen

Toss this travel-sized tube in your airplane carry-on for your summer vacation, or just in the side of your diaper bag for on-the-go touch-ups. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide deliver reliable, worry-free protection you can use on your face, neck and hands (and baby’s too!). $16, consonantskincare.com

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

COOLA Rosiliance BB+ Cream SPF 30

Moms, you need this one just for you. It’s a tinted moisturizer and BB cream loaded with skin-nourishing ingredients and a mineral broad spectrum SPF 30, all in one. It stays put with a barely-there feel and will save you at least two skincare steps in the morning. And did we mention the delicate rose scent? $78, thedetoxmarket.ca

Can you share sunscreen with your kid?

Read more:
10 best sunscreens for kids 9 questions every parent has about sunscreen and hot weather

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