The Surprising but Obvious Reason Baby Sunscreen Is Better Than Your Regular Stuff

It's all about the Benjamins, baby.

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My skin is Drake-level sensitive and when in doubt about ingredients, the safest route has always been baby products. For example, Johnson's Baby Head-to-Toe Wash, which has a lovely hypoallergenic fragrance and is dye-free/soap-free, has always been a go-to. It's ridiculously gentle.

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So with summer approaching, I began to wonder if I should be going the baby-safe route for sunscreen. For one, nothing on this earth is more precious than baby skin, so having the same kind of no-nonsense shield over my own skin has to make it a solid anti-ager. And then there's the broke-girl appeal of it being more economical. But at what cost? For clarity on the matter, I asked Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and assistant clinical professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center.

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"Baby sunscreen and sensitive skin formulations of adult sunscreen both use the active ingredient of zinc and maybe titanium," she explains. "This is a physical sunscreen ingredient in that it sits on the surface of the skin and doesn't get absorbed through the skin, which is why it's safe for babies. The only difference between the baby formulations and the adult version is the cosmetic 'elegance' of the product. The adult version has smaller particles of zinc or titanium so they go on clear and not whitish."

The casper looks is not ideal, but avoiding it can get expensive."The less-pasty adult versions are more difficult to manufacture, which is why they are a lot more expensive than the baby formulations."

Alas, my take on things is that if you're layering your sunscreen daily under makeup, pastiness is a deal-breaker. Buuuut if you're spending the day on the beach and slathering on SPF every two hours, a paler finish might not be so bad if it means having extra margarita money. It's all about where your priorities lie. 

Either way, these are two of my favorite water-resistant, fast-absorbing formulas:

1. Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $9.97; walmart.com.

2. MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $39; shop.nordstrom.com.

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