It’s officially Summer! Even though sun protection is a must all year round, summer is definitely a time everyone thinks about sunscreen. Sunscreens offer crucial protection from the damaging effects of UVA and UVB sun rays, which cause premature aging (wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, melasma etc.) and, well, skin cancer. I have sensitive, breakout prone and combo skin (with rosacea, yay!), so finding a sunscreen that won’t irritate me but still work and is cosmetically pleasant is definitely a challenge. I spend a lot of time researching and working on my SPF roundup post every year, so if you feel inclined and would like to support the blog, you can use my affiliate links I’ve included with each product (but rest assured, none of this is sponsored). I’ve rounded up my favorite picks for 2021 mineral/physical broad spectrum sunscreens for face, body, baby and lips below – and they’re all clean, cruelty free, affordable and safe for you and the Planet!
Why Mineral Sunscreens?
The only active ingredients found in mineral/physical sunscreens are: zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. They are physical blockers (hence the name physical sunscreen) and they reflect UVB and UVA rays, as opposed to absorbing them into the skin, like chemical sunscreens do. Chemical sunscreens’ active ingredients may contain a combination of these: oxybenzone, octinoxate (octylmethoxycinnamate), homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone. Many of these active ingredients can potentially be endocrine disruptors AND some of them have been shown to contribute in destroying coral reefs. Chemical sunscreens can also cause irritation, so anyone with sensitive skin should beware.
So now, let’s get into my clean mineral sunscreen favorites!
This has been my go-to everyday facial SPF, for all year round. I love how the tint warms up my face (as I’m pretty pale from wearing sunscreen regularly haha) and the iron oxides (that achieve the tint) provide added protection against blue light as well! Unfortunately most tinted SPFs on the clean market sit really heavy on my face, or are simply too pricey for what you get, so I really love this MyChelle Sun Shield Liquid. It lives up to its name, as it’s totally liquid, almost like a serum (the packaging is in a glass bottle with a dropper). This sunscreen has a whopping 20% zinc oxide, which provides the SPF 50 protection. It’s also oil free and contains bentonite clay, which is awesome for the summer as it creates a smooth, matte finish, so your face won’t look oily. It’s also non-irritating for my rosacea. The coverage is light-medium, and it evens things out really well. I use the light/medium shade – they also provide a “medium/dark”, “dark” and a “light” one, as well as an un-tinted version. I don’t love the un-tinted because it leaves a bit of a white cast and is harder to spread. Make sure to shake the bottle really well before every use (it has a little metal ball inside to combine the ingredients). This 100% oil free SPF is formulated without parabens, petroleum, phthalates, silicones, sulfates, artificial fragrances or artificial colors. It’s cruelty free, vegan and super affordable! Buy it here.
This is the ONLY clean, zinc oxide based, non-tinted facial sunscreen I’ve found that’s light like a lotion, leaves no white cast and feels calming on the skin without causing breakouts! It’s an EWG verified, 14% non-nano zinc based, vegan SPF, that’s pretty affordable too (with two sizes available). I like using this one in the winter months, but if you have dry or normal skin, you could probably use it all year long. It’s incredibly gentle and soothing on the skin, and leaves a hydrated, dewy finish. It’s vegan, cruelty free, paraben free, PEG free, and synthetic fragrance free. Buy it here!
If you don’t mind silicones in your sunscreen, and love a cosmetically pleasing (think “air-whipped”) sunscreen application process, the Supergoop Mattescreen is a GREAT choice, especially for summertime. I had an undiagnosed rosacea flare up, and after a visit to my dermatologist and getting on a regime to calm it down, I had to find a decent, clean SPF that still worked and wouldn’t irritate me. That’s how I found this one from Supergoop, after chatting with their customer service and reading a lot of reviews. It’s tinted, but will give you a very light coverage once applied, so I think it’s suitable for most skin tones. It works great as a makeup primer as foundation really clings to it. It’s the only sweat and water resistant SPF (for 40 minutes) among my facial sunscreen recommendations (with 17% zinc oxide and 0.7% Titanium Dioxide), so you can take it to the beach/poolside too. This is the perfect sunscreen for oily/combo and acne-prone skin, as it will keep your skin dry and matte, even in direct sun on a hot summer day (I tested that, ha!). Bonus: it provides blue light protection with Butterly Bush Extract. This is a “Clean at Sephora” product, so that is why I included it in this lineup, even though you won’t find Supergoop at clean beauty stores generally. Buy it here!
Do you wear makeup and worry about reapplying sunscreen throughout the day? Using this powder compact is the surest way to reapply safely and still get the protection you need. The Suntegrity Pressed Mineral Powder Compact SPF 50 has 25% non-nano zinc oxide and even though the powder is slightly tinted in the packaging, it goes on translucent. It has minimal ingredients, and is great for sensitive and combo/oily skin. It comes in a mirrored compact with a powder puff for easy on-the-go touch-ups, and my favorite part it that it’s refillable! You only have to buy the compact once, and then just continue buying the refill inserts at a cheaper price – I love the sustainability of this. I wouldn’t use this as a base sunscreen, as you usually can’t get a full coverage with just SPF powder. It’s made without Gluten, Dairy, Wheat, Soy, Corn, and GMO’s. Buy the compact here and the refills here!
A lot of zinc based body sunscreens are notorious for being too greasy, pasty white and difficult to spread, especially if they’re formulated to be baby & kid-safe. Not this one! The Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc sunscreen is super lightweight (like a lotion), goes on the body easily and rubs in clear pretty quickly (and it has 16% non-nano zinc oxide – that’s impressive performance). It’s great for the whole family (especially for anyone with sensitive skin), it’s fragrance free and water resistant for 80 minutes – great for taking to the pool/beach or just for everyday use! It’s not as hydrating as the other body sunscreens I’m going to recommend, so I encourage everyone to slather lotion on at night after washing this sunscreen off, to avoid dry or flaky skin. It’s also safe to use for the face, but I generally use my facial sunscreens instead. This SPF is vegan, cruelty free, EWG verified, and free of: Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts, SLS, Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates, Synthetic Fragrances, Dyes, Sodium chloride, Formaldehyde, MEA, DEA, TEA, and most common allergens. It does contain a tree nut, shea butter. Bonus: it’s SUPER affordable. Get it here!
This is one of my recent favorites from Badger, which is hands down one of the, if not THE most trusted non-toxic sunscreen brand out there. This new Chamomile & Calendula Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 40 is great for babies, kids and adults alike! It’s super hydrating, goes on clear and the scent from the chamomile and calendula is very calming and soothing. The sunscreen is water resistant for 40 minutes, has 22.5% zinc oxide, and 98% organic and certified non-GMO. The full ingredients are: Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Beeswax, Sunflower Vitamin E, Organic Chamomile Oil, Organic Calendula Flower Extract, Organic Seabuckthorn Fruit Extract. This sunscreen is safe for the face as well, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you tend to break out. Buy it here!
This is another great option from Badger, an unscented sunscreen with clear 22.5 % zinc oxide, and it’s water resistant for 80 minutes. This is a super rich, slightly greasy and thicker SPF, that offers really great sunscreen protection and is a great choice for long days at the beach. It’s a bit sticky and you need to work a bit to rub it in, but it does have a pretty clear finish (but you’ll see a bit of a white cast). I love that the ingredient list is super clean and super short too: Uncoated Mineral Clear Zinc Oxide 22.5%, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Jojoba Oil & Sunflower Vitamin E (98% organic ingredients). It’s simple, affordable, effective, good for you and good for the Planet. Buy it here!
Do lips need SPF protection too? Yes! Lips age from the sun and can get dark spots on them over time. I’m working on giving you more options so check back here to see my updates!
The Sun Lip Balm from Hurraw is a very moisturizing, non-nano zinc oxide based lip balm (11% zinc) with a yummy scent, achieved by combining tangerine, vanilla and chamomile. It glides on really well, and I’ve noticed a bit of a white tint to it (due to the zinc – which is normal!), but if you mind that, you can always apply a tinted lip color over it. Hurraw is overall one of my favorite lip balm brands, because they’re hydrating, effective, and formulated largely with organic ingredients, like this one is, at 68%. It’s also vegan, cruelty free, and non-gmo. You can buy it here!
With all this said, there are always new SPF formulations coming out, and even though I continue trying new sunscreens, there will never be a way for me to test ALL the clean mineral sunscreens out there (my skin would kill me, ha). However, I will share my SPF findings with you on the blog and on Instagram. A good rule of thumb for sunscreens (and all clean beauty) is to read the ingredients on the label carefully, and recognize if there’s a fishy ingredient (i.e. retinyl palmitate) or one that you’re sensitive to (i.e. coconut oil). This will save you time and money – there’s no need to buy a product just because there’s a big hype about it – if the ingredients don’t work for you, they don’t work for you, period. And finally, wear a sunhat and stay in the shade whenever you can, friends. 😉