As the weather heats up and calendars are filled with summer camps, beach trips and other outdoor activities, 'tis the season for slathering our squirming kids with sunscreen multiple times a day. And while some parents have enough to worry about just getting the lotion on their highly resistant children in the first place, others are more concerned with the type of sunscreen their kiddies wear—chemical or mineral.
Both options protect your kid’s skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays, but do so in different ways. Chemical sunscreens absorb the rays, which has caused some concern after an FDA study revealed that four of these chemicals may be seeping into our bloodstreams. While more research needs to be done, the findings have led some consumers to avoid sunscreens containing avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule and to choose mineral sunscreens instead.
The two key ingredients in mineral sunscreens (sometimes also referred to as physical sunscreens) are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, and they're naturally-occurring chemicals. Rather than being absorbed, these formulas sit on top of the skin and offer a protective barrier by scattering and reflecting UV rays. Many parents have also reported another bonus: mineral sunscreens are less irritating to sensitive skin.
With any sunscreen, mineral or not, it’s important to buy at least an SPF 30 one, and to make sure that it offers "broad spectrum" coverage against both types of rays (UVA and UVB). Remember to apply at least 30 minutes before venturing outside and keep topping it up after sweating and swimming, or every two hours.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to tote around an arsenal of different tubes and formulations, labelled differently for babies, kids and adults. Jennifer Beecker, a dermatologist and research director in the Division of Dermatology at The Ottawa Hospital, says that “pretty much everyone can use everything.”
Here are some of your best bets for mineral sunscreens.
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
Coola’s organic mineral sunscreen stick is easy to apply, super gentle and fragrance-free—ideal features for your baby’s delicate skin.$39, Well.ca
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
Get head-to-toe protection against UVA and UVB rays with this light yet hydrating lotion, which promises not to irritate skin. Plus, you’ll love the non-greasy finish. $30, Laroche-posay.ca
This long-lasting SPF 45 sunscreen, made with both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes—just remember to reapply on your little one after swimming and sweating. $16, Well.ca
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
This dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic lotion is completely free of oils, dyes, parabens, fragrance and phthalates, so you can feel good shmearing it on the whole family. Bonus: Neutrogena’s dry-touch technology means it’s easy to apply and free of greasy residue. $20, Well.ca
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
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
Getting sunscreen on your kiddo has never been easier than with this lightweight, continuous-spray formula (also an air-powered cannister). Especially suited to sporty stints in the sun, the formula contains organic green tea, rosehip and buriti oils to nourish and soothe damaged skin. $26, Well.ca
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
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
Infused with soothing colloidal oatmeal and formulated with 100% naturally derived ingredients, this SPF 50 lotion is perfect for sensitive skin. $17, Walmart.ca
Packed with antioxidants like green tea and rosemary, this broad spectrum, hypoallergenic formula also packs in the essential oils to keep skin hydrated. We also love that LASPA is biodegradable and conveniently packaged for travel. $40, Laspanaturals.com