Best Sunscreens of 2022, Family Edition

Summer might feel like it is coming to a close, but many families are heading on vacation the next few weeks. With so many sunscreens out there, which one do you choose? Merry Thornton, Physician Assistant and skincare expert, has some tips based on your specific needs.

Chemical sunscreens are making the news, most recently with the recall of 3 batches Banana Boat Hair and Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30, which contained trace benzene, a known carcinogen that health experts have long-established may increase cancer risk over time and with repeated exposure. Other key ingredients to avoid are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Additionally, look out for Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, and Octocrylene. These can affect corals’ reproductive cycle, damage DNA, and worsen the effects of coral bleaching.

The good news? TONS of great mineral (aka physical) sunscreens are available. Mineral sunscreens are great for adults and kids. They are very effective against UVA and UVB because they provide a physical barrier and reflect the rays rather than absorbing them.

Many sunscreens are marketed specifically to babies and kids, but it is mostly clever marketing (cue pastel packaging and cutesy font). If you look at the ingredients in the adult formulation, they are often the same. The FDA puts sunscreens into 3 categories: physical, chemical, or a combination of the two. They don’t have a “baby” or “kids” category. With that said, many “baby” sunscreens are physical sunscreens because they are less likely to cause irritation.

Remember that sunscreen is meant for children 6 months of age and older. For children younger than 6 months of age, the AAD recommends to keep them in the shade and use wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. If possible, dress in long shirts and pants, taking care, of course, to prevent overheating.

For adults and children older than 6 months, sunscreen alone is not enough. The same tips that apply to babies under 6 months apply to everyone else. Wear protective clothing, hats and glasses, seek out shade, and plan around the sun. Apply sunscreen after 40 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying, and at least every 2 hours.

Now that we have that settled, here are my favorite mineral sunscreens.

For mom:
-Elta MD UV Elements, SPF 44: Zinc Oxide 10%, Titanium Dioxide 5.5%

-Alastin Hydratint Pro Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 36: Zinc Oxide 3.4%, Titanium Dioxide 8.9%

-Skinceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense, SPF 50: Zinc Oxide 5%, Titanium Dioxide 6%

For the whole family:
-Cerave Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50: Zinc Oxide 7%, Titanium Dioxide 9%. They make a face and body version- very similar, can be used interchangeably. Hydrating and moisturizing.

-Sunbum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Roll-On Lotion: Zinc Oxide 16%, Titanium Dioxide 3.4%. Easy to use!

-Sunbum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray: Zinc Oxide 14%. Good for kids who won’t stop moving. Just make sure to rub after spraying for even application.

-Sunbum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick: Zinc oxide 19.2%. Travel-friendly, rubs in easily.

Don’t forget your lips!

-Sunbum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm

*Sunbum is Cruelty Free, Hypoallergenic, Paraben Free, Broad Spectrum Protection, Mineral Oil Free, Retinyl Palmitate Free, PABA Free, Propylene Glycol Free, Fragrance Free, Hawaii Act 104 Reef Compliant, Oxybenzone & Octinoxate Free

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