If you're faithfully wearing sunscreen every day, you're already on the path to skin greatness and are avoiding the most common sunscreen mistake: not wearing enough of it. But here's another SPF error too many of us discover only after a lotion has irritated our skin: the best natural sunscreens are better than those chemical sunscreens for a variety reasons — especially for those of us with sensitive skin.
Let's start with the obvious one. Chemical-laden SPF contain oxybenzone, homosalate, and octinoxate — just three chemicals that can be absorbed into the skin and cause allergic reactions. Traces of these chemicals can even be detected in breast milk (so yeah, the trouble runs deep) and, to boot, have been shown to "erode" the actual benefits of sunscreen. Sounds like a lot of cons without many pros, doesn't it?
Natural sunscreens, or mineral sunscreens, are free of potentially harmful chemicals and use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as their key UV ray-repelling ingredients. They work immediately (though, you'll always have to re-apply after two or three hours to be safe), boast broad-spectrum protection, and are far more gentle and less irritating on skin. And, unlike with chemical sunscreens, there's very little skin penetration when you use a mineral SPF.
If you're ready to make the switch to a mineral formula, these nine natural sunscreens that are considered among the best.
1. An Award-Winning Non-Nano Zinc Sunscreen
You know you're doing something right when you win an award from the Environmental Working Group. This organic natural mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 contains non-nano zinc, which is the safest and most effective UV filter. It's also gentle on all skin types (even sensitive skin), free of toxins and cruelty free, and is enriched with antioxidants like aloe vera, green tea, and vitamin E. Reviewers call this sunscreen "phenomenal" and say it absorbs fast and is lightweight and free of fragrances.
2. A Sunscreen With Olive Polyphenols that Calms Inflammation
If your skin is prone to inflammation and redness, switching to this Supergoop! mineral sunscreen with omega 3 and 6-rich olive polyphenols can help. This broad-spectrum SPF 40 is free of parabens, fragrances, and oxybenzone and reviewers say it doesn't oxidize or change color after a few hours, is effective in keeping oil at bay, and is perfect for sensitive, acne-prone skin.
3. A Natural Tinted Moisturizer With Nourishing Grape Juice
If you prefer a natural SPF that knows how to multitask, this 4-in-1 tinted sunscreen is a zinc-based broad-spectrum formula that works overtime as a moisturizer and anti-aging lotion and provides a sheer, glowing hint of color, to boot. A blend of grape, aloe, pomegranate, and coconut, sunflower, and jojoba oils work together to hydrate and tone your complexion, while broad spectrum SPF 30 protects your skin from harmful rays. Choose among three adaptable shades: ivory, sand, or tan.
4. A Cooling Cucumber And Aloe Spray Sunscreen
If you prefer natural spray sunscreens to creamy lotions, this cooling sports performance formula will impress with an "air-powered" spray that covers more of your skin at any angle. It's vegan, gluten and cruelty free, and it's also rich with flower extracts and nourishing vitamin E. And, thanks to cucumber and aloe, this sunscreen actually cools you down when you apply it.
5. A Preservative-Free Formula That Won't Clog Pores
One of Vanicream's claims to fame (and the reason why so many dermatologists love it) is because it's totally free of formaldehyde, parabens, all fragrances, lanolins, dyes, and basically every preservative on the block. This natural sunscreen has a super high broad spectrum SPF 50 and is non-comedogenic and won't cause blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples. Reviewers caution that it can leave a while film behind, so blend, blend, blend!
6. A Sunscreen For Oily Skin That Leaves Your Complexion Matte
This lightly tinted natural face sunscreen with SPF 40 goes on smoothly and it won't dry out skin, but it's especially great for oily skin types because the dimethicone in it will leave your complexion matte and ready for makeup. Reviewers say it's perfect for acne-prone skin, provides a light hint of color, and has a "velvety" texture, rather than a thick, creamy one.
7. A Body Sunscreen With Essential Oils
This fragrance-free, natural sport sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, but doesn't have avobenzone, oxybenzone, or parabens — so even the most sensitive skin types will get the most out of it. This is a broad-spectrum SPF 50 that is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, is 100 percent cruelty free, and contains the benefits of essential oils like moringa oil, which has been lauded for its ability to clear up acne and hyperpigmentation. It may prove too creamy and rich for the face, so use this only on your body if you're prone to breakouts.
8. A Water-Resistant SPF For Active Lifestyles
Love to swim, but can't stand how quickly your average sunscreen vanishes after being exposed to water? Try this water-resistant mineral sunscreen with SPF 25, which is made with 100 percent natural and organic ingredients like aloe vera and plant extracts. This sunscreen is good for all skin types and is eco-friendly and reef safe. Since it's a physical sunblock, you can also jump onto the beach volleyball court right after applying it — there's no need to wait 25-30 minutes as is necessary with chemical sunscreens.
9. A Lightweight, Hydrating Natural Sunscreen
One of our biggest complaints about any and all sunscreens is that they tend to be greasy and leave behind a white residue. That's not the case with Babo Botanicals, which contains 100 percent natural ingredients like sunflower oil, white tea, avocado, and shea butter and was designed for ultra sensitive and allergy-prone skin. This SPF 40 can be used on the face and body (and is safe for babies and kids) and reviewers say it absorbs quickly, won't leave you looking like a ghost, and will even moisturize your skin as it protects it from UVA and UVB rays.
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