Can I use my child’s sunscreen?

As everyone knows by now, UV rays are dangerous and can do a lot of damage to our skin. So it’s extremely important that we wear a broad spectrum sunscreen daily and, if you’re a parent or in charge of a kid, apply it on children’s skin as well. Their skin is more delicate, sensitive and thinner than that of adults and that’s why there are lots of sunscreens on the market designed for the little ones. But is it really necessary to buy two bottles of sunscreen, one for you and one for your child? Or is it just marketing’s hype? Well, a little bit of both in my opinion.

Sunscreen ingredients are the same

It doesn’t matter whether a sunscreen is marketed for kids or adults, the ingredients that offer sun protection are exactly the same for everyone. The only important thing is that the sunscreen you choose contains both UVA and UVB filters (unfortunately there are still too many products that only include the latter), namely: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avonebenzone, Tinosorb and Mexoryl. If none of these ingredients are present in the bottle, don’t bother buying it as it won’t protect you from the entire UV spectrum.

The differences between adult and children sunscreen

Before we start talking about the differences between adult and children sunscreens, I’d like to point out that, because each and every product on the market is formulated differently, these are more to be taken as general guidelines and not exact rules. But usually, sunscreens for children are formulated with less and gentler ingredients to avoid the risk of irritations.

For instance, it is recommended that childrens sunscreen be fragrance-free and contain Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide which, unlike the chemical sunscreen agents, are more suitable for sensitive skin as they don’t cause allergies. Of course, you could still use sunscreens with fragrance or chemical sunscreen agents for your children if you wanted. They won’t harm their health but there is only a small risk of developing irritations and allergies.

Another difference is that adults may want more than sun protection from a sunscreen and so companies may add to products targeted for grown-ups moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients to prevent the signs of aging and keep skin smooth and hydrated. Again, there is nothing wrong if your child uses sunscreen with these ingredients but I do think it’s a bit of a waste as a 5 year old kid needs protection from the sun, not help to fight wrinkles!

The bottom line

The ingredients that offer protection against UV rays are the same for both kids and adults. Although children sunscreens are usually formulated with gentler ingredients, that’s not always the case. Because of this, adults can safely use sunscreens formulated for children and vice versa. Although what sunscreen to use on you and your kids comes down to what you want from a sunscreen. Does it have to be very moisturizing? Do you want it to contain antioxidants to prevent the signs of aging? Do you prefer it to be fragrance-free or chemical-free (these are usually gentler and less irritating)? Forget about the child/adult labels and simply read the ingredient lists of sunscreens to find the right products for yours and your children’s needs.

Have you every used children’s sunscreens?

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10 Comment

    • Makeup Morsels, I’m sorry to hear that. Children sunscreens should be formulated to be as gentle as possible but sadly that’s not always the case. That’s why it’s important to look at the ingredients and see if the sunscreen we use is really both broad spectrum and gentle. :)

    • Dao, I’m sorry children sunscreens gave you so many problems! But I think it depends more on the particular products you were using cos there are some children sunscreens that are gentle and longlasting and others that contain harsh substances and don’t last long.. I’m glad the adult version works well for you. :)

  1. Like this post! I’ve never used children’s sunscreen, so I can’t make any comment on its effectiveness. But I’ve got something in mind. Sunscreen, given that it offers broad spectrum protection to our skin, should be in and of itself anti-aging, right? Anything added to it that claims to be anti-aging would be bonus for me (I won’t expect my sunscreen to remove wrinkles on my face :) If my sunscreen provides UVA and UVB protection and is not drying/oily or leaves a white cast, I am all satisfied.
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    • Amanda, I’m glad you do. And yes, sunscreen is most effective anti-aging product and, if used daily and applied properly, it can prevent signs of premature aging and makes us look younger for longer. If it contains antioxidants, then it’s bonus, I agree with you, but as long as a sunscreen works well I don’t really care whether it contains them or not.

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