Children’s Sun Creams Review

Ella & Louis poolside

Choosing Children’s Sun Cream

I always get really overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a sun cream for our little ones. There is just so much out there, I never really know which one is the “best” one to choose from the shelves and shelves of children’s sun creams.

So this summer I decided to put a few of the most well known and reputable children’s sun creams on the market to the test. The results have been surprising, interesting and really useful. For the first time, I feel like I know which sun cream is the right one for our little ones and why.

This exercise turned out to be useful in more ways than one, because not only did I have a chance to compare a handful of children’s sun creams, but our whole family did. Which was great because by the end of our holiday every single family member was reaching for their personal favourite before heading out to the pool. Result.

The Important Stuff

We tested the sun creams during our week-long holiday to Greece in July. Which meant that not only did we test all sun creams during the same sort of period of time and on the same people, but under the same conditions, and you can’t get fairer than that.

In addition, we picked out what we think are the most important things to review in children’s sun creams, and used a rating system to score each area. We also added all their scores up to give them a total score at the end so you see which one scored the highest overall, using a score of 1 for Not Great, 2 for Good and 3 for Excellent.

This review doesn’t reference the ‘star-rating’ system used by some sun creams. Largely because it is owned by Boots who licence other companies to use it and is not the only way to tell if a product offers protection against UVA rays. Instead, good sun cream should have a broad spectrum of protection which spans UVA and UVB. UVA are rays that cause ageing, whilst UVB are rays that cause burning.

Ella swimming

Nivea, Ambre Solaire & Organic Children suncream

The Reviews


Protection: Nivea’s Sun Kids Swim and Play sun cream gives very high protection against both UVA and UVB filters with an SPF of 50+. Formulated with Dexpanthenol it protects the skin barrier and reduces the risk of sun allergies, meaning little ones can play in the water for longer between applications. However, we did experience some burning, though I suspect we may not have reapplied it frequently enough. On the plus side, it came off easily enough at bath time. Score: 2

Cream Consistency & Application: Very easy to apply. Has a nice consistency and is not too thick or thin. It massages and disappears into the skin very easily so gets top scores from us. Score: 3

Nasties Free Scale: Mostly nasties free, but does include parfum in its list of ingredients. Score: 1

Sensitive Skin: Nivea doesn’t make any claims that this has been formulated for sensitive skin, but our youngest child has sensitive and eczema-prone skin and was fine using this during our holiday so gets top scores. Score: 3

Scent: The whole family liked the smell of the Nivea sun cream which I would describe as pleasant. Score: 3

Total Score: 12

Verdict: I wasn’t a huge fan of Nivea children’s sun creams before our holiday, having had some mixed experiences with some other sun creams in their range previously. However I am glad we included it in our review because it completely changed my opinion, and whilst this wasn’t my favourite, it’s the one the children were reaching for the most.

Green People Organic Children

Protection: The Organic Children sun cream provides high UVA and UVB protection, with 97% protection from UVB rays. It’s also water repellant as you would expect. We didn’t experience any burning with this so its top scores from us. Score: 3

Cream Consistency & Application: Organic Children is a scent-free, natural sun cream with 84% organic content. The main ingredients include Aloe Vera, Avocado, Olive and Rosemary which protect, hydrate and soothe skin. Of all the sun creams Organic Children are the only ones that use natural rather than chemical ingredients which we love. The cream is lovely and thick, although this does mean it takes a little longer to massage into the skin, it came off easily enough at bath time. However, because we felt it took longer to apply properly this brought the score down. Score: 2

Nasties Free Scale: Is definitely nasties free. The Green People are the only brand that includes a comprehensive list of ingredients of what they do and don’t include online. In addition, Organic Children don’t use chemicals that have been found to harm the marine environment. This is a level of environmental consciousness that I have not seen from other brands which is refreshing. Score: 3

Sensitive Skin: The Organic Children sun cream has been formulated to be gentle for sensitive skin, eczema and psoriasis friendly which we would agree with as Louis didn’t have any skin breakouts using this. Score: 3

Scent: The Organic Children sun cream is the only sun cream of the three that was completely unscented. It did however have a natural smell which the children didn’t love when it was being applied. Score: 2

Total Score: 13

Verdict: I love Green People’s ethos. It’s organic, its kind to the environment and has ethical viability at its heart. It was created to provide natural, organic products for little ones and I think it absolutely delivers on. I think this is definitely the future of children’s sun cream.

Ambre Solaire

Protection: Ambre Solaire’s Kids Sensitive Advance gives very high protection against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 50. Garnier’s formula is hypoallergenic, water-resistant and offers infrared protection. However we did experience some burning with this but suspect we may not have reapplied it frequently enough also. Score: 2

Cream Consistency & Application: It was very easy to apply, rubs into the skin nicely, is not greasy and has a nice consistency. It’s not too thick or thin and massages and disappears into the skin quickly and easily. It also came off easily at bath time. Score: 3

Nasties Free Scale: Appears to be nasties free from their ingredients list. Score: 3

Sensitive Skin: The Garnier formula is suitable for fair, sensitive and sun intolerant skin. Louis used this and did not experience any skin breakouts during our holiday. Score: 3

Scent: No scent and no colourants, but it did have a nice smell to it. Like the Nivea sun cream, it has a very pleasant “holiday” type smell to it that made it enjoyable to apply. Score: 3

Total Score: 14

Verdict: This score reflects my overall feelings on the Ambre Solaire sun cream. I liked everything about this cream and it was the one I reached for the most. By the end of our holiday, it was my favourite and I’d definitely buy it again for our next holiday.

Final Overall Verdict: These scores accurately reflect how we feel about each of these sun creams. Ambre Solaire came out on top because it was nice and easy to apply, smelt great and provided good protection for the little ones (when applied properly I might add). Organic Children has all the credentials and the product. But the natural smell of the cream was less appealing to the little ones which along with the longer application time meant it was harder to pin them down. Whilst the Nivea sun cream was nice, but not quite as good as the others.

Ella in the pool

Children's sun cream

Top tips for choosing childrens sun creams

For children, sun cream should have a minimum of 30 SPF and a broad spectrum of sun cream that protects against UVA and UVB. If you can also use a lip balm that contains SPF at the same level.

Avoid any sun creams with “nasties”. Namely; parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLSs), artificial colours (FD&C or D&C), fragrance, oxybenzone, octinoxate, retinyl Palmitate, homosalate, octocrylene and paraben preservatives.

Apply sun cream on little ones 15 – 30 minutes before you go out into the sun, and reapply sun cream after children have been in the water.

Reapply sun cream every two hours, or every hour after swimming.

Try to avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its strongest, usually between 11 am – 3 pm. Keep babies younger than 6 months completely covered and in the shade, as at this age, their skin is not yet protected by melanin. Top tip; use the shadow rule to figure out if you need to head into the shade. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is at its strongest.

Cover up with hats and other sun protecting garments outside or in water.

Disclaimer; this post may include gifted products. However, all views and opinions are my own.


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