Mineral sunscreen creates a physical barrier between your skin and UV light. Unlike chemical sunscreen, which may contain ingredients that seep into the bloodstream (yikes), the best mineral sunscreen brands use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect your skin from the sun. Not only does this make them reef-safe (we’ll go into what that means later), but they typically cause less irritation for people with sensitive skin.
But finding the best mineral sunscreen depends on your lifestyle and your budget. Luckily, there are more zinc oxide sunscreens on the market than ever before–though choosing between brands can be overwhelming. Based on our experience, these are the best mineral sunscreens for your face and body.
5 Reasons to Switch to Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
- According to the American Cancer Society, zinc oxide sunblock can help protect you from damaging UV light, which can cause premature aging and skin cancer.
- Zinc oxide sunscreen is often less irritating–especially for those with sensitive skin.
- It’s the responsible choice for our planet: Reef-safe brands do not contain chemicals deemed the most harmful for marine life (ex: oxybenzone and octinoxate).
- The best mineral sunscreen does not contain chemicals that rink seeping into the bloodstream.
- There are great mineral sunscreen options for your face, sports, and children.
Is Mineral or Chemical Sunscreen Better?
We think so. Here are a few reasons why:
- It works. Zinc oxide sunscreen is also known as “physical sunblock” because it creates a barrier between harmful rays and the wearer’s skin.
- Protection against blue light is important too. Some mineral brands may protect against blue light–otherwise known as HEV (high-energy visible) light. That’s right: The light from your computer and phone could be causing your skin to age, i.e., oxidative stress. Note: chemical sunblock does not.
- Zinc oxide sunblock does not contain chemicals proven to seep into the body (here’s the latest from the FDA).
- Choosing zinc oxide sunscreen is an easy way to help save our reefs and marine life.
The Best Mineral Sunscreen Brands
Sold on the benefits of a more natural anti-aging cream but not sure where to begin? Here are some of our favorite brands, great for lightweight protection during all seasons.
- Best for Face:
- Best Tinted for Face: Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
- Best for Body: Sun Bum Mineral Spray Sunscreen – SPF 30
- Best on a Budget: Coppertone Pure & Simple SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
- Best Drug Store: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50
- Best for Darker Skin: All Good Tinted Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 30 – 3 fl oz
- Best for Oily Skin: Ren Clean Skincare Screen Mineral Mattifying Face Screen SPF 30
- Best for Dry Skin
- Best for Sensitive Skin: MDSolarsciences Mineral Crème Sunscreen SPF 50
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Face:
Not only does it smell like a dream, but Suntegrity’s award-winning zinc oxide sunscreen also functions as a makeup primer (complete with hyaluronic acid). Suntegrity’s signature product visibly hydrates the skin and has a non-greasy feel, making it a great choice for those with combination skin.
Why We Love It: It does it all (hydrate, protect, prime) all while smelling amazing. It’s also free of many things you want to avoid–chemical UV absorbers, parabens, synthetic dyes, and much more. Worried about your environmental impact? Not only is Suntegrity’s signature product reef-safe, but you can also buy refills, thus reducing your plastic waste.
Best Tinted Mineral Sunscreen for Face:
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Reef-safe and smooth with a glowing finish, Drunk Elephant’s tinted sunblock (also available in a non-tinted form) is amazing for everyday use. Non-greasy and full of antioxidants, the Unbra Tinte is flattering on all skin types (and comfortable for sensitive skin). Tip: go for the non-tinted version if you have extremely fair skin.
Why We Love It: We love the tint, as well as this unique product’s hydrating abilities. Unlike other brands, which may leave a residue, this mineral sunscreen is ultra-lightweight and great for people with oily or sensitive skin.
CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Sheer Tint
People love CeraVe’s tinted mineral sunscreen. Not only does it create a physical barrier between the skin and UVA/UVB rays, but it also can replace a bb cream or foundation. It’s a great choice for people looking to avoid a white tint–especially those with darker skin.
Why We Love It: First and foremost, it’s affordable–especially where tinted lotions and zinc oxide sunscreen is concerned. On top of that, CeraVe’s tinted sunblock is lightweight and great for dry, sensitive skin. It can also promote a healthy glow, a downside of some non-tinted sunblock.
Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreen for Body:
Sun Bum Mineral Spray Sunscreen – SPF 30
Headed to the beach and looking for something natural with which to coat your entire body? Check out sun Bum’s spray, designed to protect against UVA/UVB rays with zinc oxide. It’s reef-friendly, as well as hypoallergenic, gluten-free, and cruelty-free.
Why We Love It: This mineral sunscreen rubs in completely (though we recommend you spray it outdoors). It also doesn’t have that oily feeling we’ve come to expect from sunblock. It also smells like coconut, which we’re not mad about. Though Sun Bum also offers lotions, we like the spray for the beach.
Best Affordable Mineral Sunscreen:
Coppertone Pure & Simple SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
We get it: Not everyone wants to spend a small fortune on protecting their skin. Looking for a high-quality and safe way to go out in the sun? Check out Coppertone’s Pure & Simple SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion. Not only does it have a high SPF, but it’s fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and doesn’t’ leave an oily film.
Why We Love It: This no-fuss sunblock does everything you want it to for less: It’s great for sensitive skin, has a tear-free formula, and contains lots of other hydrating ingredients (lotus, kelp, and tea leaf, for starters). This fragrance, paraben, and alcohol-free option is also water-resistant, making it a great choice for kids.
Best Drug Store Zinc Oxide Sunscreen:
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Out on the town and realize you forgot your sunscreen? Stop into your local drugstore and pick up some Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen. Designed for use on the face, this ultra-sensitive sunblock is hypoallergenic and fragrance, paraben, and dye-free.
Why We Love It: It’s high-quality, it’s affordable, and it’s easy to find. This Neutrogena staple has also been certified for sensitive skin use by the Eczema Foundation. Swap out your conventional Neutrogena for this reef-safe alternative.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Darker Skin:
All Good Tinted Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 30
Finding a natural sunblock that won’t leave a white film on the skin can be a huge hassle for darker skin people. But not anymore: All Good’s Tinted Sunscreen Lotion. This non-greasy formula blends with various skin tones, all while delivering broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. However, it can leave a residue on clothes (they advise scrubbing the stain before throwing it in the washing machine).
Why We Love It: This is the best mineral sunscreen for dark skin for a reason: It’s non-sticky but still provides great protection on sweaty days. It’s also full of jojoba oil, which absorbs comfortably into the skin, unlike cheaper alternatives. It can also be great for sensitive skin.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Oily Skin:
Ren Clean Skincare Screen Mineral Mattifying Face Screen SPF 30
Gone are the days when having oily skin was an excuse not to wear sunscreen. Ren’s Clean Screen Mineral Mattifying Face Sunscreen is specifically formulated for people who suffer from oily skin. It’s designed not to clog pores, making it a great choice to use under makeup. Pro Tip: Make sure to blend it in enough.
Why We Love It: This mineral sunscreen for faces won’t leave a sheen or a white residue. Some find that it even has a brightening, complexion-evening effect thanks to its matte capabilities. Ren’s Clean Screen is also great for people looking to avoid silicone, which may cause breakouts.
Supergoop Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40
No one wants oily skin or big pores. Luckily for us, Supergoop is specifically designed to reduce the appearance of large pores and dark spots. This mineral sunscreen for faces also doubles as a primer for use under makeup–especially if you’re looking to cut down on the shine in the summer months. In addition to SPF, this zinc oxide sunscreen contains butterfly bush extract, designed to protect against blue light.
Why We Love It: It’s sunblock without wearing makeup–and which pairs well with makeup. But it’s not just another pretty face: Supergoop is reef-safe, gluten-free, and vegan.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Dry Skin:
C’est Moi Gentle Mineral Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Want hydration in your sunblock? Us too, that’s why we love the C’est Moi gentle formula, full of hydrating aloe and shea butter. Silky smooth, and gentle, C’est Moi is a great choice for people with dry, sensitive skin. C’est Moi has received special recognition from the Environmental Working Group for excluding a variety of chemicals from their formula.
Why We Love It: C’est Moi’s sunblock is made in the USA, and you can see the quality. Not only is it super hydrating (make sure to give it enough time to sink in), but it’s a great choice for people looking to avoid that white or purplish hue that sometimes comes with zinc oxide sunscreen. This makes it an amazing choice for pale and darker complexioned users.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin:
MDSolarsciences Mineral Crème Sunscreen SPF 50
Having sensitive skin means that protecting yourself from the sun is even more important. With that in mind, MDSolarsciences may be the right choice for you. Not only does it have a matte finish and absorbs easily, but it’s oil-free and full of antioxidants.
Why We Love It: Struggling with acne or oily skin? This matte mineral face sunscreen may be the one for you, though stay away if your skin is dehydrated. Many users–especially those who have struggled with sunblock and breakouts–love MDSolarsciences’ formula and even use it as a primer.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Babies:
Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen – SPF 50
Very gentle and smooth, Babo Botanicals’ signature baby sunblock is fragrance-free and chemical-free. It’s also designed specifically for sensitive baby skin, though it can be a great choice for adults too. Looking for something that stays on in the water? This formula is reef-safe and water-resistant.
Why We Love It: Mineral sunscreen isn’t just for adults. Babo Botanicals’ blend is hypoallergenic and great for anyone with sensitive skin, such as those suffering from eczema. It also scored a 0 on Think Dirty, a third-party app that scores clean beauty brands on whether they contain toxic ingredients.
FDA Sunscreen Regulations
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently conducted a clinical trial on whether sunblock’s active ingredients may be absorbed into the body. It concluded that yes, some of the active ingredients found in chemical sunblock might be absorbed–but did not reach any conclusions on these compounds’ long-term impact.
The FDA recognized sunscreen containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as safe and effective at writing.
Two ingredients commonly found in chemical sunblock–trolamine salicylate and PABA–are no longer considered safe. The FDA has not reached an opinion on 12 other ingredients commonly found in chemical products and is awaiting more industry data.
Products currently sold may not have taken new findings into account yet. In other words, look for products without trolamine salicylate and PABA.