Can Adults Use Baby Sunscreen?

You just slathered your baby in baby sunscreen and you’re ready for your day out at the beach. Then you realize you forgot to bring your own skin protection. Can you safely use your child’s sunscreen?


In a short answer, yes.

What The Experts Say

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, assistant clinical professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, tells Marie Claire there isn’t really much difference between adult and baby versions of sunscreen.

“Baby sunscreen and sensitive skin formulations of adult sunscreen both use the active ingredient of zinc and maybe titanium,” she says. “This is a physical sunscreen ingredient in it that sits on the surface of the skin and doesn’t get absorbed through the skin, which is why it’s safe for babies. The only difference between the baby formulations and the adult version is the cosmetic ‘elegance’ of the product.”

Though you may have to walk around with a pastier appearance when using baby sunscreen, choosing to use it in place of adult sunscreen is perfectly fine. In fact, many moms are opting to use everything from baby shampoo to baby lotion on themselves these days, due to gentle nature of baby products.

Choosing The Right Sunscreen

Recent studies have show that many sunscreens do not work and are actually harmful. A good number of sunscreens, especially chemical sunscreens, contain ingredients such as parabens and preservatives that can cause reactions.

Dr. Norman Rowe, a New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon says that chemically-based sunscreens are absorbed into the skin in order to protect the skin from  ultraviolet rays. High doses or high SPF factors of these sunscreens should be avoided.

“These chemicals can be harmful in high doses to infants and children,” he says.

The Environmental Working Group also recommends using products that do not contain potential hormone disruptors. David Andrews, a senior scientist with the group, says that it is the inactive ingredients such as retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) and oxybenzone that people should really watch out for.

“By and large, the ones that do well in our database are the ones that are mineral-based products with a higher percent of zinc oxide, as well as some of the products with titanium dioxide,” he shares.

On the hunt for the perfect sunscreen for your family? Check out this list.

5 Fantastic Sunscreens For Kids

1.  Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30+

This sunscreen does not contain oxybenzone, octinoxate or other harmful ingredients. It is water-resistant for at least 40 minutes and uses a certified organic base.

The product is pediatrician tested & approved, hypoallergenic, packaged in a BPA- and phthalate-free plastic tube, safe for babies and kids, is not tested on animals and is eco-friendly.

2. California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30+

This is the sunscreen I use on my one-year-old daughter (and myself, on occasion).  Free of added fragrances and common allergens, this is a gentle sunscreen that also gets the job done.

The product is cruelty free as well as gluten, oat, soy, dairy and nut free. It does go on quite thick, but we have had no other problems with this sunscreen and love it.

3. Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+

Designed for daily and full-body protection for a babies sensitive skin, this product uses Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as its active ingredients. It is also dermatologist recommended.

4.  Goddess Garden Organics Baby Natural SPF 30

This gentle sunscreen is certified organic and uses non-nano zinc oxide for sun protection. It is eco-friendly, fragrance free and contains additional ingredients that are plant-based.

It also does not contain parabens, phthalates or gluten.

5. Sunology Natural Sunscreen Kids SPF 50

Another highly-rated natural sunscreen that is free from chemicals, this product also uses a mix of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to help protect against the harmful rays of the sun.

Keeping Baby Sun-Safe

As a side note, it is important to remember that infants under six months of age should not linger in the sun too long and should not use sunscreen.

“Babies need to have physical protection such as protective hats and clothing,” Doris Day, MD, a New York dermatologist shares. “They have a lower body surface-to-volume ratio, so anything that’s applied topically has a greater chance of penetrating and impacting them systemically.”


Rhonda Mix

Rhonda is mom to a bright and sweet little girl. She enjoys writing for work, writing for fun and reading when time allows. Also passionate about travel, she has a fondness for Taiwan - where she once lived in a previous chapter of her life. She looks forward to all the adventures ahead and exploring new places with two of her biggest loves - her daughter and husband.

About The Toddle

We’re a media company helping parents get clearer answers to questions about raising smart, healthy kids. Get in touch to learn more about our mission.

7119 E Shea Blvd #109-176, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
(623) 226-8142