Long after I had outgrown the target demographic for children’s and baby shampoos, I continued to use Johnson’s Baby Tear Free Shampoo because I loved the smell. Since then, I’ve switched over to sulfate-free shampoo, but I still find myself drawn to baby products, because I’m always looking for products that won’t irritate my skin—and what could be less irritating than stuff that’s specifically to touch the skin of babes?
So, in the course of researching which CeraVe sunscreen might be the best one to try first, I was drawn to this baby sunscreen. However, I had two reservations about buying the baby version: it had a slightly lower SPF, and it might contain ingredients that make adult skin break out.
When you compare the active ingredients in both of these products, you can see that the adult version contains a lower percentage of both the titanium dioxide and the zinc oxide, compared to the baby version. However, the baby sunscreen doesn’t offer quite as much SPF protection (45 vs. 50 in the adult version).
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients, and ask my Dad the Chemist which product he would choose.
CeraVe Baby Sunscreen SPF 45 ingredients
Active ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 7.4%, Zinc Oxide 11.4%
Inactive Ingredients: water, butyloctyl salicylate, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, glycerin, caprylyl methicone, isohexadecane, triethylhexanoin, mica, glyceryl stearate, trimethylsiloxy silicate, peg-100 stearate, alumina, polyhydroxystearic acid, aluminum stearate, caprylic/capric triglycerides, polypropyl silsesquioxane, xanthan gum, hydrogenated dimer dilinoleyl/dimethylcarbonate copolymer, ceramide 3, ceramide 6-ii, ceramide 1, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, sodium hydroxide, phenoxyethanol, cetyl alcohol, isostearic acid, peg-75 stearate, citric acid, tetrasodium edta, propylene glycol stearate, glyceryl isostearate, propylene glycol isostearate, oleth-25, ceteth-25, inulin lauryl carbamate, ceteth-20, steareth-20, stearic acid, ethylhexyl glycerin, glucamine, triethoxycaprylylsilane, sodium lauroyl lactylate, silica, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, carbomer
Some nice surprises in this formula: hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, and ceramides. But here’s a valid reason why I’m always a little hesitant to buy baby products: Will they cause breakouts on my adult skin? Usually, adult products will list the golden word that I always look for: “non-comedogenic.” However, baby products don’t usually mention it at all.
When I ran this product through my comedogenic Python script, (which checks the ingredient list against the ingredients listed as comedogenic according to Acne.org’s), it came out clean. Phew!
The baby sunscreen is looking more and more appealing!
CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50 ingredients
Active ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 4.9%, Zinc Oxide 4.7%
Inactive Ingredients: water, butyloctyl salicylate, cetyl dimethicone, dimethicone, styrene/acrylates copolymer, trimethylsiloxysilicate, dimethicone peg-8 laurate, isohexadecane, butylene glycol, polysorbate 60, trisiloxane, arachidyl alcohol, polyhydroxystearic acid, hydrated silica, ceramide 3, ceramide 6 ii, ceramide 1, niacinamide, cholesterol, phytosphingosine, peg-100 stearate, glyceryl stearate, ascorbic acid, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract, arachidyl glucoside, beeswax, behenyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, stearic acid, bisabolol, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, ehtylhexylglycerin, glycerin, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, pantothenic acid/yeast polypeptide, peg-8, xanthan gum, polyaminopropyl biguanide, polymethyl methacrylate, alumina, potassium sorbate, retinyl palmitate, sodium lauroyl lactylate, carbomer, tocopheryl acetate, bht, disodium edta, methicone, methylisothiazolinone, triethoxycaprylylsilane
Like the CeraVe baby sunscreen, the adult version contains ceramides and niacinamide. It’s also water resistant, but only up to 40 minutes, which is less than the baby sunscreen’s claim (80 minutes). The adult version also contains methylisothiazolinone, a potentially irritating preservative, while the baby version does not.
My Dad the Chemist: CeraVe Baby Sunscreen vs. CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion
Dear Emily, Titanium Dioxide is more effective sunblock than Zinc Oxide, but Zinc Oxide is much more skin friendly than Titanium Dioxide, however, they both are clinically tested to be SPF 50 & 45 respectively (the difference is negligible), normally speaking baby formula needs to be safer and less irritating, therefore I will definitely choose baby formula, same choice for people who have more sensitive skin.
So here’s what I was able to glean from what he said:
- Titanium dioxide is a more effective sunblock than zinc oxide, which means that you should worry if you see a low percentage of zinc oxide listed as the only active sunscreen ingredient.
- Zinc oxide is less irritating to the skin, so opt for a sunscreen with a high percentage of zinc oxide if you have especially sensitive skin.
- The difference between SPF 45 and SPF 50 is slight. SPF 50 blocks about 98 percent of UVB rays,
- Generally, baby formulas are designed to be safer and less irritating, so they can be a good choice for people with sensitive skin.
Don’t be afraid to baby your skin
Companies rarely try to make their products the same for adults and babies—aside from a few exceptions, like Thinksport, which makes nearly identical adult and baby sunscreens. One benefit is that the baby version is often designed to be less irritating.
So no matter how many birthday candles were on your cake this year, don’t be afraid to try the baby version of a product like CeraVe Baby Sunscreen SPF 45…especially if you have sensitive skin or eczema. Baby products are meant to be less irritating to the skin, which means that they may be the answer to your baby-like skin’s dreams.