You might be skeptical of even the best mineral sunscreen, or any sunscreen calling itself “natural”—that’s a marketing buzzword that has grown hollow. After all, there are no geysers of naturally-occurring sunscreen ready to be bottled, right?

When it comes to sunscreen, “natural” has a specific meaning: it refers to products that use mineral (also called physical) shields—namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—as opposed to chemical sunscreens that soak into your skin. There are lots of reasons to prefer mineral sunscreen: chemicals make a lot of people break out, they’re terrible for coral reefs, and lots of people are just generally creeped out by them. That’s because the body absorbs the chemicals. 

With natural sunscreens, UV rays are deflected at the surface of the skin, where the “natural” shield sits (instead of absorbing). That’s also why some poorly made natural sunscreens leave a chalky cast on the skin: That’s residue from the mineral sun-shielding ingredient.

The best mineral sunscreen, however, disappears more easily as it is massaged onto skin. Like any sunblock, natural options are available in a few forms: There are body sunscreens, which will have denser formulas than those that are specifically designed for the face. (Some brands make lightweight, pore-friendly options for face and body). There are also some mineral SPF-packed face moisturizers; these combine the steps of moisturizing skin with that of shielding from the sun. (And they’re terrific for daily use.) You can find natural sunscreens as lotions, sprays, solids, and even powders (which are especially common for a defensive layer atop makeup).

The two primary ingredients used in natural sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. In general, zinc oxide is preferred for its ability to block all kinds of UV rays, while titanium dioxide has difficulties blocking UVA rays (the ones that accelerate skin “aging”). You might find a combination of these two ingredients, but in general, aim for something with 10% zinc oxide or greater. And ideally you’ll get one with “non-nano” zinc, since the nanoparticles in other options can, in fact, absorb into the body, as well as harm the coral reefs. The non-nano ones stay squarely atop the skin.

You might also find sunscreens that call themselves natural but are combining lower levels of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with chemical sunscreening ingredients. Yes, these brands are using natural sunscreen, but it’s a stretch to call it natural when it also utilizes chemical ingredients—which is what many consumers are trying to avoid.

Here are the best natural sunscreens, whether you’re looking for serious sun protection (and water resistance!) for a beach trip or an SPF layer over top of your moisturizer. They all fit the “purely mineral sunscreen, non-nano, 10%+ zinc oxide” baseline we’ve set for this category.


The Best Natural Sunscreen

Supergoop face and body mineral sunscreen SPF 30

A 16% shield of non-nano zinc builds a strong sun defense, in a formula that is gentle on all body parts and skin types. it won’t wear heavy on oily skin or cause breakouts on acne-prone skin; it’s also fortified with antioxidant-rich green algae extract and cushioning tucuma butter, so it borders on moisturizer-levels of nourishment.

A 16% shield of non-nano zinc builds a strong sun defense, in a formula that is gentle on all body parts and skin types. it won’t wear heavy on oily skin or cause breakouts on acne-prone skin; it’s also fortified with antioxidant-rich green algae extract and cushioning tucuma butter, so it borders on moisturizer-levels of nourishment.

The Best Natural Sunscreen for Dark Skin Tones

Biossance sheer mineral sunscreen SPF 30 PA+++

“Sheer” is a good word to look for in terms of “leaving no white cast on skin”, but the truth is that many products promising sheerness still require lots of massaging before they turn clear. Biossance’s is an easy application, no cast, and delivers a 14% non-nano zinc coverage. It’s foremost a facial sunscreen, but is terrific across the body if you go liberal with it.

“Sheer” is a good word to look for in terms of “leaving no white cast on skin”, but the truth is that many products promising sheerness still require lots of massaging before they turn clear. Biossance’s is an easy application, no cast, and delivers a 14% non-nano zinc coverage. It’s foremost a facial sunscreen, but is terrific across the body if you go liberal with it.

The Best Natural Sunscreen for Face

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DERMA-E oil-free SPF 30 mineral face sunscreen

The most universal facial sunscreen should be oil free (for the oily and/or acne-prone folks out there). And DERMA-E’s is exactly that, while also shielding skin in a lightweight 20% non-nano zinc blanket. It also delivers antioxidant-rich Vitamin C and green tea for added defense against skin-aging pollutants.

The most universal facial sunscreen should be oil free (for the oily and/or acne-prone folks out there). And DERMA-E’s is exactly that, while also shielding skin in a lightweight 20% non-nano zinc blanket. It also delivers antioxidant-rich Vitamin C and green tea for added defense against skin-aging pollutants.

The Best Natural Sunscreen for Body

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Sun Bum mineral SPF 50 body sunscreen

A generous 20% non-nano zinc layer shields you from the sun’s most damning rays, while coconut oil and shea butter give it a nourishing base. It’s water resistant up to 80 minutes, and formulated foremost for sensitive skin types. Still, keep it strictly on the body, since the formula could weigh heavy above the shoulders.

A generous 20% non-nano zinc layer shields you from the sun’s most damning rays, while coconut oil and shea butter give it a nourishing base. It is water resistant up to 80 minutes, and formulated foremost for sensitive skin types. Still, keep it strictly on the body, since the formula could weigh heavy above the shoulders.

The Best Natural Sunscreen for Athletes

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thinksport SPF 50 mineral sunscreen

OK, we won’t give this top marks for being “cast free” without some generous massaging in, but thinksport’s sunscreen is exceptional for its water and sweat resistance. It delivers a 20% non-nano zinc coat to the skin, and, should the FDA let brands advertise their water resistance beyond 80 minutes (that’s the legal cap these days), thinksport’s would probably endure longest. (Still, please reapply after 80 minutes of sweat or water exposure, or every 2 hours without moisture.)

OK, we won’t give this top marks for being “cast free” without some generous massaging in, but thinksport’s sunscreen is exceptional for its water and sweat resistance. It delivers a 20% non-nano zinc coat to the skin, and, should the FDA let brands advertise their water resistance beyond 80 minutes (that’s the legal cap these days), thinksport’s would probably endure longest. (Still, please reapply after 80 minutes of sweat or water exposure, or every 2 hours without moisture.)

The Best Natural Sunscreen Spray

Blue Lizard mineral sunscreen spray SPF 50

In a natural sunscreen spray, it’s especially important to avoid titanium dioxide, as it can easily irritate the nose, eyes, and throat (and might even be carcinogenic). So, pick a zinc oxide spray, like Blue Lizard’s, which coats the wearer in 24% non-nano zinc, and which has a water resistance up to 80 minutes.

In a natural sunscreen spray it’s especially important to avoid titanium dioxide, as it can easily irritate the nose, eyes, and throat (and might even be carcinogenic). So, pick a zinc oxide spray, like Blue Lizard’s, which coats the wearer in 24% non-nano zinc, and which has a water resistance up to 80 minutes.

The Best Natural Sunscreen Stick

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EiR NYC water-resistant SPF 50 sunscreen stick

EiR NYC makes “good for you” across the board, including this non-nano zinc oxide (25%) sunscreen stick. It’s a water-resistant sunscreen, targeting beach lovers and outdoor runners alike. Rub it across your cheeks and t-zone, massage it in, and go. (Often, sunscreen sticks are your best facial option, in this natural category.)

EiR NYC makes “good for you” across the board, including this non-nano zinc oxide (25%) sunscreen stick. It’s a water-resistant sunscreen, targeting beach lovers and outdoor runners alike. Rub it across your cheeks and t-zone, massage it in, and go. (Often, sunscreen sticks are your best facial option, in this natural category.)



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