Suncreams on test
Our MFM mums have tested a range of suncreams from top selling brands to supermarket own brands and sun screen designed for sensitive skin.
MFMers tested the creams on their babies and children, looking at:
- ease of use
- rubbing in
- washing off
- effect on skin
- stain risk
- packaging and leak potential
They come in all shapes and sizes so we also calculated cost per 100ml. But beware with price and discount deals. Many high street and supermarket brands have a high RRP but in peak suncream season, you’ll see them on sale for 33-50% less – allowing the stores to offer what seem to be eye-catching discounts. At MFM we’d suggest this is more of a marketing ploy than a real discount. It happens every year, suggesting that the bulk of sun screen is planned to be sold at the ‘discounted’ price.
We also show SPF (UVB and UVA protection) ratings. Both UVA and UVB can cause skin cancer as well as cell damage, so both ratings are important. But they’re also confusing.
SPF rating is the old ‘Factor’ number which shows protection against UVB rays. SPF 6-14 is low protection, 15-29 is medium and 30-50+ is high. The SPF represents how much longer you can stay in the sun without your skin burning – it doesn’t mean the protection is better, it just lasts longer.
Star rating is related to UVA protection. This is more complicated as it’s not a straight measure of UVA protection. Instead it indicates the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB. So you can have 5 stars on a lower SPF product that may not offer you as much UVA protection as a 3 star SPF 50 product.
We know different sun creams appeal to different mums. So we’ve given plenty of detail for you to be able to make your own decision.
Check out our 11 of the best children’s sunglasses too!
Childs Farm 50+ SPF Sun Spray, £12 for 125ml (= £10.41/100ml)
UVA and UVB protection:50+ spf sun spray for very high sun protection
Suitable For Sensitive & Eczema Prone Skin
Available from Childs Farm
MFM mum Liz says:
- I LIKE IT
- The product itself is very thin which meant it easily sprayed onto arms and legs in little squirts. I found this easier to apply than a hefty dollop of a thicker cream, which can be liable to splodge on the floor!
- It didn’t leave a whitish mark despite having an SPF of 50+ and there was no greasy sheen
- The 125ml bottle was a handy size to take to the beach but that meant the writing on the side was very small and tricky to read.
- The product costs £12 for 125ml which puts it at the top end of the market; my usual sun cream costs £1.99 for 200ml from Aldi. The Childs Farm felt more luxurious though, and I much preferred rubbing it into my face than my usual cheaper brand.
- My daughter has mild eczema on her arms and I was very happy that the Childs Farm did not inflame her skin at all, even when she had spent a day at Brighton beach, in and out of the salty water.
- Inevitably the pump action spray led to some of the product squirting onto clothing but a machine wash at 30C removed all traces.
MFM mum Dani says:
- I DON’T LIKE IT
- The Packaging is sweet, and looks geared to babies and children. This is quite a thick spray, but it rubs well and doesn’t leave any white stripes.
- It is easy to wash off, easy to use, in terms of spraying it out, but it does have a slightly chemical, if typical suncream smell (it is fragrance free).
- I tried it on myself and two children – 4 and 8 years old. The youngest one is quite easy going and said it was fine, the eldest child who insists on ‘mist’ style sun protection really disliked it.
- She hates the sensation of anything on her skin, and we found this clinged to her body hair and was really tacky. The texture made clothes cling to it, and it did stain.
- Would have liked to have seen how many star UVA protection it offers (the best ones have 5 star UVA). It also has aloe listed I the ingredients which is a benefit.
- As a family, we use Soltan, Nivea and sometimes Ambre Solaire. It’s not superior to these brands. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this spray again. It’s costly, and doesn’t offer anything unusual.
Green People Organic Children Lotion 30, £18.50 for 150ml (= £12.33/100ml)
UVB and UVA protection: SPF 30 – high
Uses natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, beeswax and edelweiss
No parabens or artificial perfumes
Designed for sensitive skin and prickly heat sufferers
Available from Green People
MFM mum Sarah says:
- I LIKE IT
- Absorbed straightaway felt like water, not at all sticky
- Very easy to wash off hands after application
- Leakproof top, easy to store
- Relatively expensive
- Instructions seemed to be very small writing may not be easy to read for everyone.
- Like the fact that it’s made without parabens, alcohol, lanolin, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, phthalates, artificial perfumes, petrochemicals and colourants
- But it only has a SPF of 25, would prefer it to be factor 50
- It left a small mark when it came in contact with clothes
- Without question I would use this product again
MFM mum Katherine says:
- I DON’T LIKE IT
- This cream is very thick and a bit ‘chalky’. It took a while for it to soak into the skin.
- It claims to be ‘scent free’ on the packaging but I disagree. For want of a better word, it smells a bit… weird. Which meant that so did my boys and my hands for a good while after it had been applied.
- My four-year-old asked what “that funny smell” was as I was applying it to him.
- I like to use factor 50 on my children, and this is only 30. I really wish I liked the product more because it would be great to support a company that is so green, but the smell and consistency of the cream is too off-putting.
- At £18.50 for 150ml, I think it’s expensive and not good value for money.
MFM mum Georgina says:
- I LIKE IT
- This is a fantastic product for children with sensitive skin, with no harmful products. It’s quite thick and takes a while to rub in but it provide great protection and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin.
- One of my daughters has very sensitive skin and has suffered with bad eczema and allergies. I was worried it was too thick but it is formulated for children prone to eczema and psoriasis. It’s non pore-clogging and really suited her skin.
- This is ideal for sunny holidays and dipping in and out of the pool. It didn’t come off easily during water activities.
- This cream contains 78 per cent organic ingredients, including soothing aloe vera and green tea. It has high protection against UVB and UVA rays and contains no dangerous chemicals, so I felt very confident using it on my children.
- This is one of my favourite sun creams because it is natural, yet also protective. I have previously used Aveeno baby sun cream and I like these products equally.
- More expensive than some other children’s sun products but it’s worth the money.
Wilko kids sensitive Sun Spray, £3.50 for 150ml (= £1.75/100ml)
UVB protection: 5 star
UVA protection: 50+ spf sun spray for very high sun protection
Available from Wilko
MFM mum Carolyn says:
- IT’S OK
- It was really easy to wash off – no scrubbing required.
- It was fine with all clothing except white garments. It stained my little girls white dress around the neckline.
- Initially it has a very strong alcohol smell that is similar to hand sanitiser. This smell does disappear quickly and then there is no smell at all.
- Both the Wilko Sensitive spray and the lotion were very easy to run into the skin and absorbed fairly quickly. The lotion is a much thicker consistency so I preferred to use that in the morning as the initial barrier and the top up through the day by using the handier spray.
- The spray has a nifty easy grip bottle that definitely comes in handy when taking the cap off or if you have slippery hands.
- I was a little shocked to find alcohol denat and octocrylene so high up on the ingredients list on a kids product, but they are regularly used throughout the market.
- If you are on a budget and don’t mind the alcohol content then it’s a decent option.
- I probably wouldn’t use this product again because of alcohol content. My 17 month old twins have quite delicate skin and I feel that the alcohol would eventually really dry their skin out.
MFM mum Becky says:
- IT’S OK
- My children are those odd ones who love suncream and they preferred the spray as it was easiest for them to rub in themselves.
- It was easy to rub in both the spray and the cream and they were easily absorbed although their skin felt sticky for a while. The spray came out quite thick and needed rubbing in as much as the cream.
- There was no residue of the cream left after a bath!
- The packaging claims the product is suitable for sensitive skin but it does contain SLS.
- I was really happy with how well the product protected my children and how easy it was to use but I am put off by the fact it contains SLS.
- I usually use a Green People suncream on the children which is mostly organic and has fewer chemicals in, but it does only offer SPF 30 and is several times the price of this one. It isn’t as sticky or as prone to staining though so I do think you get what you pay for.
- I think this suncream offers great protection for the price and if you are looking for a bargain suncream then it is worth checking out.
Riemann P20 factor 30 spray, £14 for 100ml (= £14/100ml)
UVB protection: SPF 30 – high
UVA protection: 5 stars
10 hours protection from one application
Available from Amazon and Boots
MFM mum Leah says:
- I LIKE IT
- Very easy to rub in, but you must follow instructions for full protection. Once absorbed there is a sheen on the skin, but it’s not greasy
- I needed soap to wash it off fully. It’s very waterproof but if you dry yourself very hard with your towel you’ll probably need to reapply
- It has a very chemical/solvent smell that goes away once it’s dry but it does leave a faint suntan lotion smell
- We found there was a bit of staining on white clothes if you put it on before it’s fully absorbed
- My children liked not having to be ‘greased up’ so frequently. They also liked prancing around naked waiting for it to absorb/dry!
- They were nervous about being sprayed so I sprayed it into my hands, which also meant I could see how much I used
- Very easy to open and store. Lid stayed on tight even in bag
- Instructions were very long winded
- Ingredients list is actually fairly short, and it doesn’t contain parabens
- Would definitely use again – it’s excellent for long days out/school
MFM mum Joanne says:
- I DON’T LIKE IT
- Very quick and easy to apply with the spray action, however, once I put it on, it left my child’s skin feeling greasy
- The yellowish colour of the product was off-putting, but it is available as a clear spray
- It didn’t wash off very well – my child was still left with a film of product on her skin
- The packaging stated that it was fragrance free, which I would have to disagree with. I didn’t like the smell at all. It had a strong odour that lingered for some hours after application
- The product was easy to open and close and I trusted that it wouldn’t leak
- I wouldn’t use this product again because the smell was far too strong and lasted too long. I liked the fact that you only had to apply it once a day and it was easy to apply