Summer has to be coming, right? RIGHT!?!? Me and my undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder can’t take much more of this.
By this time last year, my flower boxes were dripping with blooms. This year, on the other hand, I’m out there each morning giving all the foliage a pep talk: “You can do it! Hang in there!”
And every few days, we get a sneak peek. Bursts of spectacular sunlight feeding our bodies deliciously warm vitamin D. And every time, my heart races with excitement that – this time – it’s here to stay. And out comes the sunscreen.
Admittedly, I get a bit complacent with the sunscreen on cloudy days, which I’m perfectly aware is a no-no. Yet when the sun is shining, I’m uber-diligent. My kids, with their Irish heritage, are so white they’re blue. They burn easily, and I think we all know that every burn you have in childhood increases your chances of getting skin cancer down the road.
This review comes with a bonus feature for YOU: 25 of my readers are going to get full-size bottles in exchange for writing mini-reviews of Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion! If you’re Canadian, enter below to win with Banana Boat. Thanks to Paradigm PR for providing me with a sample to test and for setting up this generous reader offer.
It’s SPF 50. I don’t see much point in buying anything less for a child. I’ve heard that once you’re past SPF 30 that the benefits are pretty incremental, but I err on the side of overzealous caution when it comes to my kids. Some people think I’m nuts. I’m OK with that.
It glides on really easily. One of my favourite sunscreens for kids is very zinc-y, and feels like a heavy paste when you apply it. This, on the other hand, goes on thicker than a chemical sunscreen (that uses chemicals to block the sun, versus a physical sunscreen that uses an ingredient like zinc that’s a natural sun-blocker) but smooths out well.
Unlike specialty chemical-free sunscreens, the Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion’s inexpensive and readily available at your local grocery store, pharmacy and even toy stores. You won’t need to order it online or find it in a higher-end kids’ boutique.
It’s water-resistant, which means you won’t need to reapply quite as often. That said, you really do need to reapply your child’s sunscreen every couple of hours whether or not he’s been in the water.
Banana Boat’s version of a “naturally sourced” sunscreen uses 3.6 per cent titanium dioxide – known for strong UV light-absorption – and four per cent zinc oxide – usually produced synthetically, it’s antibacterial and doesn’t get absorbed into skin, which provides excellent UVA and UVB protection.
There’s no oxybenzone in this product. Why should you care? And why should you always look at your suncreen’s ingredient list for it? Oxybenzone is a photosensitizer, which can create free radicals when it’s all lit up – say, like, under sunlight – and can do all manner of damage, including to your (and your child’s) DNA. Oxybenzone can disrupt the endocrine system – and has been known to make some fish species change sexes. YES. The stuff has made girl fishies become boy fishies. Seriously, is that the kind of crap you want on your wee babe’s skin – her biggest organ?
There are also a lot of other neutral and truly natural ingredients in the Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion – and it turned out to be better than I suspected coming from such a commercial brand.
I’m a bit of a crazy person when it comes to products that go on my kids’ skin. I favour brands that don’t use questionable or controversial ingredients. So when I was given the opportunity to review this sunscreen, I was both excited and a bit trepidatious. The word “natural” always worries me a bit, and it should always lead you directly to the ingredient list. If you can’t pronounce something, look it up online. Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion contains phenoxyethanol, which I’ve written about before and is considered “moderately dangerous” by the Environmental Working Group (EWG is essentially the be-all end-all authority on ingredient safety). It’s a preservative and any product that contains water must have a preservative, but you should read more about it before you use it on your child, and you need to know that it’s toxic to infants if ingested – so keep it well out of reach.
I don’t like the “mild as water” tag line that’s on the packaging; I find it misleading. In my experience with it during the past month, it has been very gentle on my kids’ skin, and I’m not a scientist or anything, but I’d bet the farm that there are far fewer people who have any negative reactions to water over those who may react to some of the ingredients in the Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion. There’s dimethicone, which fares only slightly better than phenoxyethanol on EWG’s skin deep test. Incidentally, the EWG rates this suncreen product a “3,” which is on the lower spectrum of concern and is good enough for me to use it on my kids when the brands I prefer run out or prove difficult to get on the way to the beach, for example. I’d choose this over something like Coppertone’s Water Babies ANY day.
So…where can you get it?
Banana Boat generously offered some of my readers full-size Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotions to try out for themselves. Read what they have to say about this product, too:
“I was very excited to try this new, all-natural sunscreen on my six-month-old son. Being all natural I was pleasantly surprised to see an SPF 50 on this product. What made it even better was that it didn’t come out of the tube all runny and watery like some other sunscreens we have tried. I loved that it spread easily and really well, it absorbed fast without leaving my babe’s skin greasy and slippery. He has super-fair sensitive skin, and this product did not cause a reaction, nor did it dry it out. The best part: no sunburn! I will continue to ride this “boat” of sunscreen! The only thing I somewhat missed was that “banana boat” smell. But it being natural I understand that smell wouldn’t be.” (Kristen F.)
“I received the sunscreen two days ago and have used it a few times on my four children in the last two days. One of the first things both myself and the kids noticed is how thick the sunscreen was when we squeezed it out of the bottle and then lathering it on their skin took quite a bit of time to rub it in. With that said, though, I didn’t find it oily like some of the other sunscreens I’ve used on the kids, which is a good thing. I did happen to rub my eye after applying it on one of them and it didn’t sting at all which is another good quality this product has. All in all, I think it is a good sunscreen, but both the kids and I wish it wasn’t so pasty when applied.” (Rosie)
“There’s a whole lot of good and ‘feel good’ in this product. It’s a natural sunscreen, as the name suggests, which is not only good for our little ones, but also for the earth they will one day inherit. I used this product on my 16-month-old baby, my five-year-old son and my 30-something-year-old self. The three of us have sensitive skin and choose our products wisely. In fact, we’ve always had great experiences with Banana Boat, but I was still excited to see what this new formula was like on our skins! I loved the fact that it has relatively little scent and that it covered the skin MORE than adequately. It is white and very thick, so you can see and feel exactly where the sunscreen is or is not. Because of it’s zinc-like whiteness and thickness, it takes a while to rub in, but I didn’t really mind that so much because I was able to ensure all three of us were covered. Near impossible to miss a spot! There really isn’t anything negative to say about this product, but I should expand on its thickness. While some people may find the whiteness and thickness annoying, people with sensitive skin will find it refreshing! In addition to the tube stating ‘tear free’ and ‘sting free,’ perhaps it could be labelled ‘thick coverage for sensitive skin’? Something to let the consumers know that this sunscreen is different – not only in its ingredients, but in its consistency. All in all, I would buy this product for myself and my children, but it would not work for my hairy-armed husband!” (Jodi C.)
“I am always on the hunt for natural products that are gentle on my son’s sensitive eczema-prone skin. I thought I would try Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion, as it sounded like it might be exactly what he needs. We tried the product on the entire family. While the sunscreen is mild and did not irritate the skin, it didn’t absorb well and I have used other natural sunscreens that absorbed much better. The product seemed heavily zinc-based and it ended up being more of a physical sunblock, and who wants to walk around with white cream all over their body? I also felt that you really have to use a fair amount of the product and I was constantly reapplying it as it didn’t feel or look like it was offering full coverage. I will say that it is very water proof; that statement is quite accurate. When my son took a shower he still had some of the lotion left on him. Overall, I don’t think this is the right product for our family.” (Cathy T.)
“It doesn’t feel like summer has even started yet with the cooler-than-normal temperatures; however, many days the UV rating is high. Protecting my daughter’s skin is important and I am always looking for the best products to use. As a mother, paediatric nurse and avid product junkie, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review the Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion 50+. I like to use safe and natural products on my daughter’s skin. Prior to
this review, I was using a Canadian natural sunscreen brand that is safe and organic with no toxic ingredients. This product did provide sun protection, however it is very thick and took a long time to absorb into the skin. It smelt terrible and left my daughter’s skin greasy and sticky. Banana Boat Natural Sunscreen, I must say, surprised me that it uses naturally sourced sunscreen actives that deflect UVA and UVB rays. The product goes on thick but quickly absorbed in to her skin. It doesn’t have a harsh smell and it is not greasy or sticky. My daughter’s skin has not reacted to this product either. There are some questionable ingredients on the list that are obviously not natural which is always misleading. Compared to other top baby brand sunscreens the Banana Boat product does stand out to me.” (Chantal W.)
“I was so happy to get to try Banana Boat’s Natural Reflect sunscreen. We applied it to my 15-month-old daughter and me for a weekend day at the beach. I love the low-risk rating for this sunscreen on ewg.org and how well it worked for our four hours in the sun. My daughter has very sensitive skin and we didn’t have any rash issues afterward! It was also very water-resistant, which is great for a toddler who does not like to stop playing to reapply sunscreen! The downside was how thick it was. Although easy to apply, it was a bit difficult to wash off when we were finished. Overall, I’m very happy with this and would certainly purchase it again!” (Brandi C.)
“I personally really like it because its thick and covers great. It does require a lot of rubbing to get it to sink in as a result. My husband on the other hand cannot stand it because it’s too thick. So far the kids haven’t had any overexposure to the hot sun recently because they’re covered in the sunscreen. Last year they still got the occasional burn regardless.
I would buy this again.” (Lori M.)
“I try to be extra-careful about sun exposure at the end of spring when the kids are spending more time outside but it’s not so hot that it’s easy to remember to stay in the shade and use lots of sunscreen. It can be so easy to burn even on a cool or cloudy day! I’ve used the Natural Reflect sunscreen on my three year old and my 10 month old several times now and I’m happy to report: no sunburns. When I received my Banana Boat Natural Reflect sunscreen, the first thing I did was check out the ingredients. This sunscreen doesn’t contain oxybenzone or parabens, and the Environmental Working Group rated it 3/10 (the lower the number, the better). The protective ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which makes it thicker than your typical chemical sunscreen (kind of like toothpaste) and a bit harder to apply. You do have to do a thorough job of rubbing it on or it will leave a slight whitish cast on the skin. Other mineral-based sunscreens I’ve used feel kind of greasy, but this one seems less so. I like that it’s scent-free too. The best part? This Banana Boat is almost half the price of the brand I usually buy! I would definitely buy this for my family and recommend it to others.” (Olivia L.)
“My son and I are extremely fair and we both have extraordinarily sensitive skin, so getting a sunscreen to protect us can become a costly headache. I was excited at the opportunity to try a natural product, as any carcinogen is a terrifying concern as a mother who has had cancer herself, had a husband who has passed away from cancer, and a whole distressing family history of cancer. With all of this background, I was excited to crack into this product. Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 certainly lives up to its name. When I opened up the bottled, the first thing I noticed is that it does not have a scent, and therefore there are no added perfumes to this product. I also noticed that it is extremely THICK, which is due to the Zinc Oxide in the product that is protecting you from those harsh rays. I put the product on my two year old and he did not cry from it stinging (which is what normally happens) and never once did he complain about it being in his eyes. I also put it on myself first thing in the morning before a five-hour outing during peak sun time and it was successful in protecting our skin from the sun. I have two big hesitations in completely endorsing this product. Firstly, it’s a white residue that is extremely difficult to get off (which can be seen as a positive), especially from your floor/furniture. I bathed my son and scrubbed with soap, and could not get the sunscreen off. Secondly, when researching this product, the ingredients are flagged to be a health concern. This worries me, as the product leads you to believe that this would not be something that you should be concerned with. The Environmental Working Group rates its ingredients as a ‘Moderate Hazard’.” (Julie W.)
“I have been using Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids on my nine-month-old daughter. I was really looking forward to trying it as it is natural. We have just recently started using sunscreen, and I found it a bit overwhelming trying to pick the right one. Everyone had an opinion on which was the best one for baby, but unfortunately, most of their opinions were different. I found Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids to absorb very well into my daughter’s skin. The other brand we tried took a lot longer, and as I kept having to rub it in, my daughter was losing her patience. When applying to her face, she didn’t squirm as much which made it easier – again, I think it helped that it absorbs better, so I didn’t have to rub her face as long. I did get a bit close to her eye at one point, and it didn’t bother her at all. She did not feel greasy after the application, and did not have any sort of reaction. I am quite satisfied with the performance of Banana Boat Natural Reflect Kids and will continue using it.” (Monique S.)
“As a mom of two very busy kids who love the outdoors, I am always on the hunt for an effective, safe sunscreen. This is even more challenging for us as my oldest has a gluten allergy and we learned (the hard way) that many sunscreens actually contain gluten. First of all, I will talk about what I love about this sunscreen. To say it simply, it works! It’s a thick lotion that seems to stay on for quite a long time which is fantastic when you really don’t feel like spending your afternoon wrestling with a four year old who doesn’t quite understand the concept of having to reapply. It worked well even while they were in the water. Even after an hour playing at the splash-pad, I could see the water beading on their skin (which to me is typically an indication that the sunscreen is still doing it’s thing). Saying that, I did not find that they felt “greasy” which is the case with many sunscreens out there. It dried nicely on their skin. In addition to that, I do like that it’s more “natural” than many of the other sunscreens out there. While it’s definitely not perfect, the levels in some of the chemicals are acceptable enough for me to consider this a possibility, especially when I have had really bad luck with some homemade & holistic varieties I’ve purchased over the years. Think: soothing a three year old who is peeling from a burn after only being out in the sun for 45 mins. Ouch!! Now what I didn’t like. I was really looking for a sunscreen that my eight year old could apply himself. This was not it. He has reached that ’embarrassed’ stage where he needs to do everything himself and wouldn’t dare have his friends see his mother applying his sunscreen. This lotion is a little too thick for kids to apply. When I did have him try it himself, my child looked like a ghost! He was rubbing it in but it was just too tough to do on his own and I had to finish to get it done right. Unfortunately, because it’s so thick, this also means that you seem to need a lot of it just to apply it once. I can’t see the bottle lasting very long in this household. Overall, I do really like this sunscreen and would consider buying it again. I would prefer if it were a little less-thick, which I think would make the bottle last longer and it easier for kids to apply themselves.” (Jenn of findingmomtopia.com)
“We tried the Banana Boat natural reflect sunscreen. My boys, who are almost 9, 7 and 4 were all able to put it on themselves, as it is easy to rub in and spread on their bodies without leaving a white residue. They also found the smell pleasant and not too strong. I used it for our 8 month old daughter as well, and found it easy to put on with no negative effects. My older boys prefer spray on sunscreens (likely because they can do it quickly) instead of lotion, but searching online I was not able to find natural reflect spray-on sunscreen. The cost of this sunscreen was affordable, especially compared to other “natural” sunscreens. However, my concern with the sunscreen is the large number of ingredients- most natural sunscreens have very few ingredients, and the ingredients are familiar. However, with Natural Reflect I had to look up a fair number of ingredients, and some have been reported to have negative effects. Overall I think this is a good affordable option for a sunscreen but requires more research into the ingredients to determine how natural it is.” (Sara N.)
“Over the last couple of weeks, I have been using Banana Boat Natural Reflect Sunscreen Lotion on my two girls. They are both pretty picky about the feeling of sunscreen on their skin and don’t like anything that has a greasy or sticky feeling. When I first applied this sunscreen on them, neither one of them complained, which was a good sign. It is very thick and has to be rubbed in quite a bit for the kiddos not to look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. It also has a pleasant smell that doesn’t seem to bother my kids. It claims to be very water resistant and proved to be so. We accidently got some of it on the dock at the cottage and when we rinsed it with water, the water just beaded up and didn’t rinse the sunscreen off. I was able to locate this sunscreen in our local Wal-Mart the other day, which means that it would be easy to find when needed. I do wish that there was a larger size (in the store it was also the 120mL bottle) and around here where my girls spend most of each day outside in the sun, reapplying every two hours means that we go through a lot of sunscreen. The little container only lasted about a week.” (Jaime E.)
“What’s not to love about Banana Boat’s Natural Reflect sunscreen lotion? The price is affordable and it’s convenient to purchase. With two children under two I love how the sunscreen comes in a kids’ and baby versions!” (Tessa C.)
“I jumped at the chance to review the new Banana Boat Natural Reflect Sunscreen after my son broke into a terrible rash from using our former sunscreen product. The ‘mild as water’ label intrigued me as I was desperate to find a cream that would not irritate his sensitive skin. I used this product for a span of two weeks and success! No rash! It has a very light, pleasant smell (not chemical or harsh), and the fact that it is tear-free is awesome as I managed to get it into my little guy’s eye twice. My only complaint is that it takes a little bit of work to rub in completely and on a wiggly toddler that can be a bit of a pain. Overall, I found this to be an excellent and effective sunscreen for my very active, sensitive-skinned little boy!” (Rachel B.)
“I love this sunscreen! Easy to apply, although a bit harder than lotions that need to be absorbed. It’s important to read the instructions as you should apply half hour-45 mins before sun exposure so can’t really slather on and go, but it’s worth the wait. We have not had any problems, we even went swimming and all was well for at least an hour and a half before I felt I needed to apply again!” (Nicole M.)
“It has protected both of our fair-skinned children very well through the hottest part of summer with the most intense UV exposure and we haven’t had a sunburn yet. It applies reasonably easily (not the easiest we have used, but reasonable) and hasn’t stained any of the kids clothing or our furniture, so that’s a plus. No annoying scent either; good for parents with any kind of scent sensitivity. Overall a good product.” (Andrew M.)
“As a family of six, including four young children, we manage to use a fair bit of sunscreen, especially in summertime. As such, I am always on the lookout for the ideal product – one that provides maximal coverage, is not greasy and preferably doesn’t contain a lot of potentially toxic ingredients. For these reasons, I was very excited to try Banana Boat’s new Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion. And I was definitely not disappointed! Only a small amount was needed to get full skin coverage. This is a particularly important concern for me as my children as well as myself are quite fair-skinned. Due to the natural zinc oxide, the sunscreen is white when it is applied which ensures that no areas are missed. Initially, the product felt thick but it was well-absorbed and not at all greasy. Through perspiration, fun outside and in water, the sunscreen gave good coverage and allowed my kids to enjoy the outdoors safely. I was concerned that my sons who have eczema might have worsened skin conditions, but this did not happen. Finally and reassuringly, there isn’t a long list of questionable ingredients on the sunscreen tube. I highly recommend Banana Boat’s Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion and will definitely highly recommend it to friends and family. I have already gone out and purchased more to put tubes in my purse and diaper bag!” (Heidi C.)
“My son has really sensitive skin and other sunscreens have made his eyes water and skin red. Banana Boat’s Natural Reflect Kids Sunscreen Lotion is amazing. My son didn’t react to it at all. I also love that there is absolutely no scent to it. I find that some lotions have a WONDERFUL smell but the parks we attend have TONNES of wasps and they are attracted to the smell of these sunscreens. We didn’t have a problem with this product. It has a very think coating, which is awesome because it stays on when my son is in the water. I love that it is SPF50 and that it has 100 per cent natural ingredients!” (Cheryl M.)
“We were very excited to try this product. My son has unfortunately inherited my very sensitive skin, so I was thrilled with this natural product. I hate that other sunscreens are full of chemicals. My son loves to be outside and is fair-skinned so it is very important to me to have an awesome sunscreen to put on his skin. It smells great, prevented my son from getting burned and felt great when applying it to his skin. I did find it to be a little thicker than other sunscreens but it absorbed fast. We spent the day at the beach and my son didn’t get burnt. We did reapply every two hours. Love that it is sting-free, tear-free and SPF 50. I am looking forward to using this great product all summer. Thanks Banana Boat and Mommy Gearest for the fab sampling opportunity!” (Melissa F.)
“I love that it is a thick texture and not watery, but it rubs in well. However, I don’t like it for the face because it is so thick. I love that it doesn’t really have an odour and it’s not greasy all. You know you are wearing it but don’t feel like you are. Thank you Banana Boat for making a great, natural sunscreen that I feel safe using on myself and my child who has sensitive skin.” (Sarah H.)