Although sunscreens sold in the U.S. have become safer since the Environmental Working Group published its first Sunscreen Guide in 2007, their 12th annual guide found that serious concerns remain.

Mom applying sunscreen to baby on beach
Credit: Shutterstock

Being diligent about sunscreen when you have young kids isn't easy. Have you ever seen a child who's excited to have this stuff applied? If you have, I'd like to meet them. Because mine panic and run away from me the minute I whip out a bottle, whining about everything from the smell and color to the taste (yes, taste!) and the feel.

And even when you do, by some miracle, manage to get the stuff on them, the struggle is far from over. Because you still have to reapply. And reapply. And reapply.

Also... does anybody really understand all that SPF and UVA and UVB stuff? It's confusing, right? And so is the fact that some companies change up their formulas from year to year. Which means slathering your child in last summer's standby may suddenly not be good enough to prevent their skin from getting sizzled.

It's enough to make you want to simply give up and resign yourself to a life of "lathering your child in toxic death cream," as one mom put it in her on-point viral rant.

Here's the good news: the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together a list of the best beach and sport sunscreens on the market for 2018.

The bad news: Spray-on sunscreen (which is basically my holy grail) may offer less protection because it evaporates more quickly—keep in mind the FDA stated back in 2011 that anything higher than SPF 50 is "inherently misleading."


In fact, now some parents have started a petition against Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play, which EWG rated the worst of all for claiming to have an SPF of 100. Meanwhile, some poor kid in Virginia reportedly suffered second-degree burns over Memorial Day weekend after using a spray-on version of the product.

Still, doctors say applying a sunscreen that made the "worst list" is better than wearing no sunscreen at all! "Using a lower SPF is better than nothing," Katya Harfmann, M.D., a dermatologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told us, though she added that parents should be on the lookout for products that claim to have an SPF greater than 50. "It's not that they don't provide any protection," she explained. "It's just unclear how much better they are than the weaker products."

Check out the EWG's list of the best and worst beach and sport sunscreens for kids, and keep them protected this summer!

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.