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Parents, I think you will agree me with here: Putting sunscreen on your children is one of the worst parts of summer. They squirm, they whine, they run away. When my kids see me break out the sunscreen, they tend to react like this:
And, then once you finally catch them and get it rubbed in, it’s sticky. It stinks. It becomes a magnet for dirt and sand and God knows what. Or, if you’re my husband, you don’t really end up rubbing it in and then your child walks around looking like a scary clown.
But, all that suffering aside, the most important thing is making sure that your kids are well protected from the harmful rays of the sun, and that the sunscreen you are using isn’t chock-full of harmful chemicals.
So what are some of the best and the worst options? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its 2017 Guide to Suncreens, which ranks the best and the worst of the bunch.
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If you have a infant, EWG says you can’t go wrong with Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Lotion Sunscreen. It scores a 1 (the top score), meaning that it is free of any dangerous chemicals, including hormone-disruptors. Badger Baby SunCream also scored high (or low, rather, receiving the top score of 1.)
Alternatively, the EWG advises parents to steer clear of Coppertone Sunscreen Water Babies Foaming Lotion (as it has an SPF of 70) and Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70 for the same reason.
While you might assume that the “higher the SPF, the better the protection,” this is actually not true. The EWG says that higher SPF sunscreen only offer marginally better protection, and they are more likely to be improperly used because people think they don’t need to reapply as often.
If your child is a toddler or older, consider TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30+, which received a 1 rating from EWG. Other good options for kids include Kiss My Face Organics Kids Sunscreen, SPF 30 and Caribbean Sol Sol Kid Kare, SPF 30 (these both scored a 1).
Popular kids’ sunscreen options such as Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70 (score: 7) and Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100 (score:10) are highly discouraged. Dang! I’m bummed about that, spray-sunscreens are super-convenient, right? Sadly, even the FDA warns against spray-sunscreens, as children can easily inhale the contents during application.
RELATED: Mom Warns Parents About Aerosol Sunscreen After Baby Suffers Third-degree Burns
Find the full list of best-scoring kids’ sunscreens here. And click here to get the guide delivered right to your doorstep, free of charge. It comes with lots of other tips about staying safe in the summer while still enjoying the rays.