long red hair in the sunshine

Review | High SPF sunscreen for mum and baby

As a pale-skinned redhead, I’ve spent my entire life being completely paranoid about sun protection: and, as the mother of a 16-month old, I’ve become even MORE paranoid about sunscreen. Seriously, while everyone else was busy enjoying the glorious summer of 2018 (We may never see its like again…), I spent most of it fussing around with muslin cloths and sunshades, absolutely terrified that my prechus baby was going to get burnt. Those were some fun times, for sure.

Given this state of constant vigilance against mine enemy, the sun, then, you’re probably thinking I must know a thing or two about sunscreen by now, and have tons of great recommendations for you. Er, not so much, actually. I mean, I DO have some recommendations about facial sunscreen, and I have another post coming up soon on that very subject, but, when it comes to sunscreen for the body, I’m still mostly just rotating through different brands, and looking enviously at other people walking around with clean, dry skin, while I spend most holidays with my hair stuck to my shoulders, and yellow marks on all my clothes from where my sunscreen rubbed against them.

(And those marks NEVER come out, by the way. EVER. This is why my one tip for this post is that, if you have very pale skin, and are travelling somewhere very hot, it’s best to just hit up H&M or Primark before you go and buy a handful of £3 vest tops which you don’t mind just getting rid of when they inevitably become covered in sunscreen…)

I might not know much about sunscreen, though, but one thing I do know is that if you’re travelling to the U.S. – and to any of the warmer states, in particular – it’s much better to buy your sunscreen there, than in the UK. Not only is it quite a bit cheaper, there’s also a far better selection: here in central Florida, for instance, all of the supermarkets and drugstores have huge sunscreen aisles, with a much wider range of brands than you’ll typically find in the UK – and, crucially, a better selection of high SPF products, too. I’m not sure if it’s just because the UK is normally cold, or if it’s something to do with the British obsession with tanning, but, while it’s not exactly hard to find decent SPF at home, there’s generally only a couple of options to choose from – and they’ll invariably both be the thick, gloopy variety of sunscreen, which leaves a white cast over your skin, and leaves me looking even MORE like a distant member of the Cullen family than I normally do. 

For our trip to Florida, then, I did what I always do when travelling to the States: I brought facial sunscreen with me (More on that later), but waited until we got here to stock up on these guys for me and Max:

high SPF sunscreen for mum and baby

For me: 

So, first things first (And before you all start lecturing me…), you can pretty much disregard the ‘SPF 100+’ on this product: I’m reliably informed that SPF doesn’t actually go that high, so this isn’t going to give you much more protection than an SPF 50, say, and it would be really dangerous to assume that you could stay out in the sun 100 times longer than you would without sun protection. Like, REALLY, REALLY dangerous. 

Annoying though the labelling is, though, I actually bought this because of the ‘clear mist’ claim more than anything else. My pet hate with high SPF sunscreen is the fact that it generally has roughly the same colour and consistency of glue, so I’m constantly on the lookout for something that’s not like that. Back home, we do have some clear spray sunscreens in SPF50, but they’re normally the pump-action type, which still have to be rubbed in. This, on the other hand, does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s an aerosol-type spray, which is dispensed as a fine mist, and this makes it SO much easier to apply – you literally just point and spray, and, because it actually sprays rather than squirts, you can even get to tricky areas like the small of the back, without requiring assistance.

Once you’ve sprayed it, you do need to just quickly smooth your hands over your skin, to make sure it’s evenly distributed. It doesn’t, however, need to be rubbed in as such, and, best of all, while it looks shiny when you first apply it, it dries within 30 seconds or so, to a totally matt finish. I’m used to sunscreens which feel slightly sticky all day long, and to having to tie my hair up to make sure it doesn’t come into contact with them. This, however, dries so well that I can get dressed right away, and then go about my business without giving it a second thought. So, although I said at the start of this post that I don’t have any great sunscreen recommendations, I guess I actually DO, don’t I? Because, yes, when the current can runs dry, I’ll 100% be re-purchasing this, and I’m also planning to buy a couple of cans to take home. (I haven’t checked to see if this is available in the UK, but I’m guessing not: and, even if it is, it’s not going to be $8.99, as it was here, is it?)

Oh, and as for the sun protection, well, I’ve worn this every day since we arrived, and don’t have so much as a hint of redness, so I’m happy. It obviously does have to be reapplied regularly or it’ll be of no use whatsoever, but that’s the case with any sunscreen, and at least this one is easy to re-apply.


For Max:

Coppertone Waterbabies Lotion Spray, SPF 50

As for Max, meanwhile, I did actually bring some sunscreen from home for him, but it was of the thick, gloopy variety, and guys? It was a complete nightmare. I mean, he didn’t ever get burnt while wearing it back home, so it did the job, but if there’s something in life that’s more frustrating than trying to rub thick white sunscreen onto a wriggly toddler, I honestly don’t want to know what it is.

I put the gloopy stuff on him on our first morning, thinking I might not need to buy something else for him: he spent the rest of the day with an looking white cast on his skin, and giant streaks on his face, where I’d failed to blend it in properly before he wriggled out of my grasp. By the time he was fully coated, I’d have rather just gone straight back home than attempt that particular ordeal again, so we headed to the supermarket, where I spent an angst-filled ten minutes or so carefully reading the labels on various sunscreens (And pretending to know what I was looking for…), before going for Coppertone Waterbabies, which claimed to be water-resistant and gentle on the skin.

Now, I’m not going to claim this is a total game-changer, because applying Max’s sunscreen is still close to the top of my list of Things I Never Want to Do Again, but it IS significantly easier than the glue-like concoction we’d previously been using. Like the Neutrogena product, this is an aerosol spray, so, technically, you can just spray it directly onto your toddler’s skin and smooth it on. In practice, however, it comes out of the can FREEZING (This is also the case with the product I’m using myself, btw…), and Max absolutely HATES that, so I just spray it into the palm of my hand instead, and let it warm for a few seconds before applying it to his body. (Again, I’m using a separate product on his face, which I’ll be reviewing soon…)


As I said, it doesn’t make this process EASY, exactly, but it does make it easier: it just takes a few seconds to coat Max’s entire body with it, and, as with the Neutrogena, it dries in quickly enough for me to be able to dress him right away. (As with all sunscreens, it’s a good idea to wait 20 minutes or so before going into the sun…)  It claims to be water-resistant (Which is obviously not the same as being waterPROOF, so, as always, frequent application is really important, and I should probably add here that all of Max’s swimsuits have built-in sun protection, too…) and gentle on the skin, and, indeed, Max has had no sunburn or irritation since we’ve been here, so it seems to be doing the job.

This was $7.99 from Walmart, and is another one I’ll be reapplying when it runs out – unless, of course, anyone has something better to recommend, in which case, feel free to drop me a comment!



the best non-sticky sunscreen in SPf50+
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  • I just Googled the Neutrogena one and you can get it here! I have similar hates with gloopy sunscreen so perhaps I’ll try this one. It’s on ebay for £10.50 (the SPF 100+ one) and Amazon have an SPF 30 version for about £8.

    May 22, 2019
    • Lila Athanaselis


      I think most of the time I’ve just gone with Nivea 50 factor spray and pump bottle for adults and kids, but most of the time I’ve only ever used it abroad and at a beach.
      I used to buy whatever was on offer at 50 factor whatever brand as long as it was a spray or pump bottle and not a cream.

      May 22, 2019
  • Karlie


    Coppertone Clear Sport is really good also. I put it on before going out then use the spray to reapply. It is a lotion but it dries quickly with a matte finish. I spent 9 days on the beach in Hawaii and didn’t get burned once.

    May 22, 2019
  • Mary Katherine Graetz


    As a pale person who does a beach vacation (usually in Florida) every year, I could write books on sunscreen. Spray sunscreen is wonderful when you’ve already got sand on you and don’t want to feel like someone is running a belt sander over you – especially on sandy feet and the part in your hair. But in any kind of breeze, it’s useless – very little of it actually gets ON you. And the cold part – spraying it on our one girlfriend who uses it every year and watching her scream and writhe in her bikini is one of our major pleasures of the holiday!

    Sunscreens are either chemical or mineral-based (think zinc oxide). I’ve read a lot of stuff about how nasty the chemicals are for you, and last year switched to the mineral-based kind, which only comes in lotion form. It is also non-toxic to reefs and sea-life, which is becoming a major problem, and sunscreens sold in Hawaii all now have to be this non-toxic kind. GLOOPY is certainly the word – it never really rubs in, and will leave a ghostly sheen on the skin – and we all want to be even PALER on the beach or beside the pool, right?

    There is no good universal solution. I wear a hat a lot, and this year bought a “rash-guard”, long-sleeved t designed to be worn in the water, as I like to spend a lot of time in the ocean itself. Glad you found those brands you like – I’ve used Neutrogena myself, and they’re well-known and loved over here.

    So tell us about what FOOD and DRINK you really loved in Florida?!?!

    May 22, 2019
  • Sara


    Have you tried Ultrasun? It’s a once a day application – you apply 20 mins before going outdoors. I burn so easily (I have extremely fair freckled skin) and find it works well & isn’t oily or sticky like traditional sun screens. It was quite unnerving the first time I tried it as the non greasiness on my skin made me feel there was nothing there & I’d burn! But I’ve now used it for a couple of years and have so far never burnt at all!

    May 24, 2019
  • Anya


    How do you feel about anthelios xl ultra light from la roche posay? Renamed shaka. It s been super good to me. And the reformulation made him ultra fluid . Absorbs instantly etc. anotjer one i love Is supergoops daily 50plus sunscreen. Those are moslty meant for the face but i use em on the body as well in a pinch. ( i had another one very nice from la roche posay for body but for now the two above are my besties)

    May 26, 2019
  • Anne


    Long time lurker de lurking to say that all of the Neutrogena sunscreens have a matte dry drown – even the creams. Definitely available in the UK. Nivea is simply terrible – I tried it once in the UK and sword to never forget to bring mine from Australia ever again.

    May 29, 2019