Summer is here and we’re spending more time in the sun than ever. By now everyone knows that sun protection is crucial, but there are so many options out there it can be hard to navigate what kind of sunscreen is best for you and your family. This post breaks down different types of natural sunscreens and includes a list of our favorites for grown-ups and kids.
What does ‘natural sunscreen’ even mean? Natural is a vague term that is often used in marketing without much to back it up. With sunscreen, it usually means one of two things: 1. The active ingredient in the sunscreen is mineral-based as opposed to chemical-based (see below for that breakdown) or 2. The inactive ingredients are free from things like parabens, sulfates, and other harmful chemicals.
How mineral-based sunscreens work: A mineral-based sunscreen literally blocks the sun physically from your skin with minerals as active ingredients so that UV rays aren’t able to hit your body. Most often those minerals are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Think of mineral sunscreens as a physical barrier between your skin and the sun.
How chemical-based sunscreens work: A chemical-based sunscreen uses (you guessed it) chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate and others to absorb UV rays and then dissipate them through a chemical reaction. The sun’s harmful UV rays never actually hit your body because of that reaction. These sunscreens work, but the jury is out on some of the ingredients. Read what the EWG has to say about the chemicals in sunscreens here.
In the past, I’ve been a fan of the chemical-based sunscreens made with cleaner ingredients, but as I’m learning more on environmental responsibility this year, I’m leaning towards mineral-based sunscreens because of their impact on our skin and on our oceans. That said, we use both types in our home. Scroll down for a list of our favorites.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Adults- Body
Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50: I love everything about this lotion. It’s chemical-based but free from these ingredients. It also comes in a giant container so you can refill your smaller one and use less plastic. It feels really good to put on and it works.
Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30: A few of you guys recommended that I try this spray after my Beautycounter partnership earlier this month and I’m so glad that I did! In the last week, it’s become my favorite natural sunscreen because it goes on so smoothly and actually works… without leaving a white residue. The active ingredient is zinc oxide and the can is air-powered so it has no aerosol. I also like the lotion version but the spray is a much better product IMO.
Bare Republic Clearscreen SPF 50: Admittedly, I bought this spray at Target a few weeks ago because I liked the bottle. I was surprised to discover how much I actually loved the product and it’s mineral-based with zinc oxide and titanium oxide as the two active ingredients. It goes on totally clear which is something that doesn’t really happen with mineral-based sunscreens. It also smells amazing.
Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Spray (Anel’s pick): My husband plays golf at least once a week, and always keeps Sun Bum spray in his golf bag. He loves how it goes on lightly and doesn’t get greasy or sticky as he gets sweaty on the course. Although it’s chemical-based, it’s non-comedogenic (won’t break you out), and free from parabens, PABA, and oils.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Adults- Face
Supergoop Smooth & Poreless 100% Mineral Lotion: I received this in a press package earlier this summer and was really impressed at how it went on really smoothly, wasn’t too thick, and also evened out my skin. As someone who is majorly prone to acne, finding a mineral-based sunscreen that doesn’t break me out is huge. This one did it!
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen: This is my number one natural sunscreen pick for my face. It goes on so thin and stays matte under makeup all day long. I wear it daily and love love love it. It’s not mineral-based, but all Supergoop products are free from these ingredients.
The Best Natural Sunscreens for Kids
Babyganics SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray: This is our number one favorite sunscreen for Amalia. It is zinc-based but also uses two of the chemical-based active ingredients. It’s free from parabens, sulfates, PABA, phthalates, and fragrances and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. We like sprays for her better in general because the consistency is thinner which makes it easier to rub in. We spray it into our hand and then rub it on her, otherwise it’s too cold and she freaks out. I keep this in her diaper bag at all times.
Babo Botanticals Sheef Zinc SPF 30 Continuous Spray: This is another great spray option that we use on Amalia regularly. This one is 100% zinc oxide with no other active ingredients. It’s a little harder to rub in but still works really well and goes on smoothly. Now that I’ve learned more about the difference in sunscreens, we will most likely move her to this one instead of the Babyganics.
Supergoop Sunnyscreen 100% Mineral Spray: I recently got this in a press package and love everything about it from the consistency to the ingredients to the packaging. The only reason it’s not my top choice is because of the price. At $26/bottle, it’s about double the cost of other mineral sunscreens. That said, if you have the budget for it, I highly recommend it. We also got the lotion version in the same package and I liked it but definitely prefer the spray.
That’s my list! What are your favorite natural sunscreens?
Photos by Julia Dags.