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.
J.Crew Swimsuit (gifted) / Packable Sunhat / Turkish Towel
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?
J.Crew Swimsuit (gifted) / Packable Sunhat / Turkish Towel
Photos by Julia Dags.
Thanks for the recs! Badger is also amazing (the lavender scent is great!). Also really like Sunology and Thinksport – they go on really smooth!
Everyone loves Badger but it is too thick for my taste. I will try the lavender one though. Thinksport seems to be a favorite so that’s next on my list!
Everyone loves thinkbaby but it’s so heavy – I can’t seem to breakup with Skinceuticals for my face. I bought thinkbaby for my son but I kind of want a lightweight one I can keep in the stroller and apply to my hands and neck if we’re out and about but also be able to use on him. I wonder if it’s sketch to put the unseen or poorless Goop on a baby? Is Sunnyscreen too heavy?
So cute, Julia!
Thanks friend! xx
Thank you for this! I recently just bought Sun Bum for body and so far I’m liking it! Finding “natural” sunscreens is hard–I spent an hour on Amazon trying to find good options. I bought LaRoche-Posay for my face and so far I’m liking it.
I always see that at my CVS but I dont know if it will break me out. Will have to try it too!
Love this break down! Sunscreen is an easy way to be environmentally friendly! A year or so ago, I impulsively picked up this mineral stick sunscreen at Trader Joe’s. It surprisingly works very well! I like to use it on my face for reapplying sun screen during a beach day or very sunny day in general (link here: https://www.traderjoes.com/FearlessFlyer/Article/4299 ). Also, SuperGoop has a SPF finishing powder for over your make up that I LOVE!! It is nice to use throughout the day because we forget how much UV rays we get while just sitting by a window, or in the car, or even on an airplane.
Interesting. I will defintiely try the TJ’s one. They never let me down!
For anyone looking for sunscreens that they can easily buy at a drugstore or supermarket-I’ve been recommending (as a pharmacist) the new Coppertone Pure and Simple line in the green bottle and Neutrogenas mineral line of sunscreens! I use Supergoop and Neutrogena at home and love both equally.
Oooh good to know! I would totally try the Coppertone Pure and I’m a long-time Neutrogena fan so I should try their mineral sunscreen too. Good tips, thank you!
Thank-you so much for this bog post…so informative, and being that I spend alot of
time in the ocean, whether local or on
holiday…swimming, snorkling, surfing,
paddleboarding…I was looking for some real
opinions on mineral sunscreens. So thanks
for doing the research and sharing your reccomendations. We can always count on
So glad this post was helpful. Let me know what you end up loving, too!
I love the Babyganics line for my daughter so much that I have been snagging it for myself. I have the spray and lotion but actually prefer the lotion consistency. We live in Florida and I’ve not had one burn which is amazing with how strong the sun is here and how much time we spend in the water.
For my face, I’ve bit the bullet and splurged on the La Roche Posay Anthelios Daily Antioxidant Face Serum and OMG, game changer. Worth every penny as it gets me to consistently put sunscreen on my face everyday. First face sunscreen that hasn’t broken me out, felt gross, etc. It works with makeup and has such a great texture for sunscreen.
That’s so awesome to hear. I need to try the lotion too then! People love the La Roche…Now that I hear it doesn’t break you out, I have to try it. The one I’ve been using (PCA) isn’t natural in any way shape or form so would be nice to have a cleaner option.
My pediatrician recommended Blue Lizard – it’s Australian but I get it at Target. We love it! It’s mineral based, and it’s not nearly as thick as Babyganics (the other brand I use for my kids). It’s a little pricier than Babyganics, but often worth the ease of application, especially on babies!
Lucky people! You have an opportunity to spend time having sunbathing. In our Siberia summer is only two months, and temperature is about +30