Even the most potent sunscreens, such as mineral sunscreens, might seem a bit suspicious. There aren’t any geysers of naturally-occurring sunscreen that can be bottled.
Natural sunscreens are those that contain mineral shields, also known as physical sunscreens. These include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens can soak into the skin. Mineral sunscreen is better than chemical sunscreens for many reasons. They are less likely to cause skin irritations and are harmful to coral reefs. The body absorbs these chemicals.
Natural sunscreens reflect UV rays at the skin’s surface, which is where the “natural” shield (instead of absorption) sits. This is why natural sunscreens that are not well-made leave a chalky residue on the skin. It’s a result of the mineral sun-shielding ingredients.
However, the best mineral sunscreens disappear more quickly when they are applied to skin. Natural sunblocks come in many forms. There are body sunscreens that have denser formulas to protect the skin than those specifically made for the face. Some brands offer lightweight options that are pore-friendly for both the face and body. Mineral SPF-packed moisturizers are also available. These combine the benefits of moisturizing the skin with sun protection. These are great for daily use. Natural sunscreens can be found in lotions, solids and powders. They are particularly useful as a protective layer on top of makeup.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two main ingredients in natural sunscreens. Zinc oxide is the preferred ingredient because it blocks all types of UV rays. Titanium dioxide, on the other hand, has difficulty blocking UVA rays which can accelerate skin “aging”. These two ingredients may be combined, but you should aim for at least 10% zinc oxide. You should also look for one that contains “non-nano zinc” as nanoparticles from other options can absorb into the body and cause damage to coral reefs. Non-nano zinc stays on top of the skin.
There are sunscreens that claim to be natural, but contain lower levels of zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide. These sunscreens may also include chemical sunscreening ingredients. These brands may use natural sunscreens, but it is a stretch to say it uses chemical ingredients. This is what many consumers want to avoid.
These are the top natural sunscreens that provide serious sun protection and water resistance. You can use them for your next beach trip, or as an additional layer to your moisturizer. All of them meet the criteria for “purely mineral sunscreen and non-nano, 10+ zinc oxide” that we have established.
The Best Natural Sunscreen
Supergoop SPF 30 face and body mineral sunscreen
Non-nano Zinc 16% protects against the sun in a gentle formula for all skin types. It won’t clog pores or make oily skin look shiny. It’s also enriched with antioxidant-rich green alpha extract and cushioning Tucuma butter to provide moisturizer-level nourishment.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones
Biossance sheer mineral sunscreen SPF 30 PA+++
Although “Sheer” can be a great word for “leaving no white marks on the skin”, many products that promise sheerness will still need a lot of massaging to get clear. Biossance’s sunscreen is easy to apply, has no cast and provides 14% coverage. Although it is primarily a sunscreen for the face, it can also be used on the entire body.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Face
DERMA-E mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 oil-free
For those who are oily or acne-prone, the best facial sunscreen is oil-free. DERMA-E’s sunscreen is oil-free and protects skin with a light 20% non-nano Zinc blanket. For added protection against skin-aging pollutants, it also contains antioxidant-rich Vitamin C as well as green tea.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Your Body
Sun Bum mineral SPF 50 body sunscreen
The generous layer of 20% non-nano Zinc protects you from the sun’s worst rays. Coconut oil and shea butter provide a nourishing base. It can withstand water for up to 80 minutes and is especially formulated for sensitive skin types. It is best to keep the product on the body as the formula can be too heavy for the shoulders.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Athletes
Thinksport SPF 50 mineral sunscreen
Although we don’t think this sunscreen is “cast-free”, it’s exceptional for its sweat and water resistance. The sunscreen provides a 20% nonnano zinc coating to the skin. If the FDA allowed brands to advertise their water resistance beyond the legal limit of 80 minutes, thinksport’s sunscreen would likely last the longest. (Please reapply every two hours without moisture or sweat after exposure to water or sweat for 80 minutes.)
Natural Sunscreen Sprays
Blue Lizard mineral sunscreen spray SPF50
Avoid titanium dioxide in natural sunscreen sprays. It can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and may even prove carcinogenic. Blue Lizard’s zinc oxide spray coats the skin with 24% non-nano Zinc and has a water resistance of up to 80 minutes.
The Best Natural Sunscreen Stick
Stick of sunscreen SPF 50 water-resistant by EiR NYC
EiR NYC is “good for you” all over, including this non-nano Zinc Oxide (25%) sunscreen stick. This sunscreen is water-resistant and can be used by outdoor runners as well as beach lovers. Apply it to your face, neck, and t-zone. Sunscreen sticks are often your best facial choice, especially in this category.