14 worst-scoring sunscreens for kids, as rated by the EWG

Check your cupboards: Your favourite sunscreen may contain harmful ingredients. We've got the scoop on the worst sunscreens for kids.

Dad applying sunscreen to daughter on the beach
Photo: iStockphoto

Sketchy chemicals and misleading labels could be hanging around in your cupboards in these sunscreens for kids. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the US put together a list of the worst offenders and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

Family digging in the sand10 top sunscreens for kids A few overarching dangers stick out among the list. First, the EWG warns against sunscreens with super high SPFs (be wary of anything over 50), which can lead to burns in little ones because they offer a false sense of security, so people don’t apply as often. The organization also raises a red flag about oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate on ingredients lists. Oxybenzone, the EWG says, is an ingredient found in 40 percent of sunscreens that penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream, where it acts like estrogen. However, this research is based on experiments with rats and subsequent research published in JAMA Dermatology suggests excessive amounts of oxybenzone would have to be used to cause concern, and the data from rats might not be appropriate to extrapolate to humans. Still, oxybenzone may cause allergic reactions in some kids. Meanwhile, the EWG cautions that retinyl palmitate, which is found in 16 percent of sunscreens, may “speed development of skin tumours and lesions, according to governmental studies.” These studies, which were done in mice, have not been replicated in humans.

So what should you look for in a sunscreen? Seek out a lotion with an SPF of 30 to 50 and apply regularly. The EWG advocates the lotion format because it’s easier to ensure you’re applying enough (sprays are less likely to offer a thick and even coating). And the organization says that mineral-only sunscreens are often a good bet. Look for the mineral ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are safe for kids and offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Here are the products that made the list:

Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70
Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray Kids, SPF 70
Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Kids, SPF 70
Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Water Babies, SPF 70+
Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Kids, SPF 55
Coppertone Sunscreen Stick Water Babies, SPF 55
Coppertone Sunscreen Water Babies Foaming Lotion, SPF 70
CVS Health Children’s Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Sticks, SPF 55

Read more:
30 cute summer hats for kids
What you need to know about the Banana Boat sunscreen investigation

No Comments