The best sun creams for babies, toddlers and children

Our MFM testers have put a range of children’s SPF 50 sun creams to the test

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Our MFM mums have tested a range of suncreams from top selling brands to supermarket own brands and sun screen designed for sensitive skin.

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MFM testers used the creams on their babies and children, looking at ease of use, rubbing in, washing off, effect on skin, fragrance, stain risk and packaging.

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.

What’s the difference between SPF and star ratings?

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!

garnier

Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Sensitive Sun Cream SPF50+ 200ml, £6 for 200ml (£3 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Boots and Amazon

Garnier’s Kids Sensitive sun cream is a firm favourite amongst our mums for its hydrating qualities. This comes from the addition of shea butter which will leave your little one’s skin feeling soft as well as protected. MFM tester, and mum of 2, Janet  says: “I felt confident it wouldn’t irritate my daughter’s sensitive skin and liked that it was slightly moisturising”.

It’s also quick to absorb so you won’t be left with a sticky residue, which tester mum of 1 Davina, likes: “I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the cream sunk into my little girls skin, considering the SPF. This is a major consideration when you only have a limited time window to apply the cream on to a wriggling baby!”.

nivea-spray

Nivea Sun Kids Sensitive Sun Cream Spray SPF50+ Water Resistant, £8 for 200ml (£4 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Boots, Amazon and Sainsbury’s

This Nivea sun cream comes in a spray bottle and in a water-resistant formula, so is great if your kids are in the pool or sea this summer. Keep in mind that even if a formula says it’s “water resistant”, you’ll need to reapply straight after your child is out the water.

It’s popular with our mums, particularly because of how quickly it absorbs and its easy-to-use bottle which makes it quick to apply. MFM tester and mum of 4 Puneet says: “Within a minute or so, it had completely absorbed into the skin and didn’t leave a shine or any stickiness at all. This is a big bonus for me because if any cream feels sticky, Tara usually wipes off”.

It’s also suitable for sensitive skin which Charlie, mum of 2, likes: “It was great on my son’s sensitive skin and didn’t cause any reaction”.

cien-pump

Cien Sun Spray for Kids SPF50+, £3.99 for 250ml (£1.60 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Lidl

If you’re looking for a sun cream that’s good value for money, it’s worth having a look at Lidl’s Cien range. This sun spray comes in a pump bottle, which has had mixed reviews amongst our mums but they find it’s quick to absorb and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.

MFM tester and mum of 3, Jenny says: “I can imagine the kids enjoying the cooling sensation if we were on a very hot holiday from being sprayed and a good amount is distributed from one spray”.

But MFM tester and mum of 1, Daniella, says she finds it harder to apply on her daughter: “Whilst the bottle did make it easy to dispense the cream itself, the spray was like a thin jet which wasn’t baby-friendly- I still had to spray into my hands then rub onto my baby”.

soltan-once-8hr

Soltan Once Kids 8hr Protect & Play lotion SPF50+, £10 for 200ml (£5 per 100ml)

Sun protection: 5 star UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Boots

This sun cream from Boots’ Soltan range has a five star UVA rating – the highest level of sun protection a sun cream can offer. Michelle, mum of 2, likes how quickly the thick cream absorbs into her kids’ skin: “The moisturised element came through immediately and neither of us was left greasy, sticky and it did seem to rub in straight away rather than rest on top of the skin”.

Keep in mind this may stain your little one’s clothing, but it can be easily washed out. Lucy, mum of 1, says: “There was evidence of the sun cream on dark clothing, but most of Harry’s summer clothes are light and bright and I see no issue with getting the sun cream on them as it appeared to wash off ok”.

nivea-lotion

NIVEA SUN Kids Suncream Lotion SPF 50+, Protect & Moisture, £6 for 200ml (£3 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Boots, Amazon and Superdrug

Our mums also tested the Nivea’s sun cream lotion which offers high levels of UVA and UVB protection. It’s also water resistant, so is a good option if you’re off on holiday. Claire, mum of 1, says: “I tested it on my arm by applying the sun cream to my arm and dipping it in and out of water and the sun cream was still on my skin so this would be perfect for swimming or at the beach or water parks”.

But compared to spray versions this does leave a slight residue. Laura, mum of 1, says: “I did find that it left my daughters skin a little sticky to the touch, however for the level of protection, I feel that is forgivable but could see sand, fluff etc sticking to the skin potentially”.

soltan-sensitive

Soltan Kids Sensitive Protect Lotion SPF50+, £6.50 for 200ml (£3.25 per 100ml)

Sun protection: 5 star UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Boots

This Soltan lotion offers the same level of UVA and UVB protection as the Soltan Once Kids 8hr Protect & Play lotion, but is specially formulated for children with sensitive skin. Puneet, mum of 4, says: “Mili has eczema and tans easily but doesn’t like very sticky creams. This one came out quite thick and I did think it would be one that takes ages to absorb but I was impressed at how easily it disappeared when on the skin”.

It’s advised to reapply this sun cream every 1-2 hours but it does come in secure packaging so is a good option for using on the go. Charlie, mum of 2, says: “The lid of the bottle sealed well and didn’t leak at all when thrown into the changing bag”.

solait-kids-trigger

Solait Kids Trigger SPF50+, £4.99 for 200ml (£2.50 per 100ml)

Sun protection: 5 star UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Superdrug

Superdrug’s Solait sun cream range includes this Trigger Spray, which offers five star UVA and UVB protection. It comes in an easy to use spray bottle which includes a safety clasp for using on the go. Superdrug says its ‘Aquarich’ formula also provides hydration throughout the day. Melanie, mum of 3, says: “This cream absorbs into the skin quickly and leaves a nice sheen without feeling too sticky”.

The green spray may stain clothing, but our mums say this easily washes off. Rykesha, mum of 1, says: “The sun cream sprays out green (though it rubs in clear)… It also left green marks on her clothing but they were easily washed away”.

soltan-protect-and-moisturie

Soltan Kids Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF50+, £4 for 200ml (£2 per 100ml)

Sun protection: 5 star UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Boots

This Soltan lotion, available to buy in Boots, provides a five star UVA rating as well moisturising your little one’s skin.

If your child has sensitive skin then it’s probably worth going for the Soltan lotion formulated for sensitivity, as it does have a strong fragrance. Sakshi, mum of 2, says: “While its smells pleasant  it does have a VERY strong fragrance and  I am wary of using anything with strong perfumes and fragrance on kids”.

It’s slightly sticky upon application but absorbs quickly into the skin. Jenny, mum of 3, says: “It dispensed easily and absorbed nicely although upon application it was slightly sticky. Once fully absorbed there was no stickiness”.

solait-baby-sun-cream

Solait Baby Sun Cream SPF50+, £5.99 for 200ml (£3 per 100ml)

Sun protection: 5 star UVA and UVB SPF50+

Available from: Superdrug

As well as a spray, Superdrug’s Solait range also does a baby sun cream with advanced UVA and UVB protection. Our mums like that it leaves the skin feeling moisturised as well as protected. Lucy, mum of 2, says: “You can feel a slight film on the skin but more moisturising that greasy”.

It has a slight coconut smell which isn’t too overpowering, but if your little one has sensitive skin then it may be worth looking for sun creams without fragrance such as Child’s Farm.

cien-spray

Cien Sun Spray for Kids SPF50+, £2.99 for 250ml (£1.20 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Lidl

This Cien sun spray by Lidl comes in an easy to use aerosol can but our mums find it takes a while to absorb into the skin. Melanie, mum of 3, says: “This suncream doesn’t absorb as quickly so needs more rubbing into the skin, which isn’t ideal when you’re little (or big) one is running away trying to avoid getting creamed”.

Lidl also says the formula is fragrance free but our mums notice a subtle smell when using the spray.

childs-farm-spf50

Childs Farm SPF 50+ Sun Cream, £11.99 for 125ml (£9.59 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and SPF50+ UVB

Available from: Childs Farm, Sainsbury’s and Boots

All of Childs Farms’ products are tailored for children with sensitive skin. This SPF50+ cream is dermatologist and paediatrician approved for sensitive and eczema prone skin and is also suitable for vegans.

It’s quite a thick formula as Rykesha, mum of 1, finds when she uses the cream on her daughter with sensitive skin: “The cream is thick but fairly easy to apply; however it feels very tacky and leaves a greasy appearance on the skin”.

At nearly £10 per 100ml it’s more expensive compared to ranges such as Soltan and Cien, but is worth considering if your child has eczema or sensitive skin.

ultrasun-spf

Ultrasun Kids Sunscreen SPF50+ £30 for 150ml (£20 per 100ml)

Sun protection: UVA and UVB SPF50+

Available from: Amazon, M&S and JoJo Maman Bebe

Ultrasun’s kids sunscreen delivers high protection from UVA and UVB. It also contains Celligent which is said to help protect the skin against ageing. This formula is designed for children with sensitive skin and on the back has a list of ingredients not included in the cream. Our mums like the fact it comes in a pump bottle, such as Davina, mum of 1, who says: “It meant I dispensed the exact amount I needed every time. No leakage but I am worried that the cap might fall off at some point!”.

But they are disappointed by its application, especially considering its high price point at £20 per 100ml. Janet, mum of 2, says: “I found this suncream quite “dry” and it felt a little “chalky” on application. It doesn’t seem moisturising”.

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