The 5 Best Mineral Sunscreens

Learn why mineral vs chemical is better and what to use for kids.

It used to be so simple: UV bad, SPF good. But with studies showing that sunscreen can have negative effects ranging from harming coral reefs to ending up in your bloodstream we’re having to rethink what we’re slathering onto our bodies.

Scott and I did a deep dive into suncare products this spring and were dismayed to find that many of the best products cost over $35 a tube. For someone like Scott – who literally slathers himself from head to toe every day – that’s just not happening! Over the course of the summer, we’ve identified a handful of safer sunscreen products at every price point. There are three safer sunscreen facts that informed our purchases:

“Reef Safe” isn’t necessarily good for coral reefs. “Reef Safe” and “Reef Friendly” are not regulated terms. They’re generally interpreted to mean sunscreen does not contain oxybenzone or octonoxate, the ingredients banned in the state of Hawaii.

Know Your Ingredients. Following studies that showed how sunscreen ingredients can end up in the bloodstream after just one use, the FDA requested more information on 12 common ingredients — including oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, and octocrylene — to make sure they’re safe. While that doesn’t mean these ingredients are unsafe, although their increased absorption bothers me, personally. That’s why all the sunscreens you’ll find on my list are mineral. 

Mineral sunscreen isn’t necessarily good for you, or the environment. Zinc and titanium can be broken down into tiny nanoparticles that can irritate skin and perhaps even harm coral reefs. Look for non-nano mineral sunscreens. They’ll likely go on white when you apply them, although some do fade to clear. You also want to make sure that your mineral sunscreen spray doesn’t contain titanium dioxide, which is safe when applied topically, but a carcinogen when inhaled.

Don’t want to look like a ghost when you’re on the beach? Create some shade and wear sun protective clothing – neither of those options endangers your health or the environment….or prompts a fashion emergency.  Our roundup also include two tinted options for those times when covering up just isn’t an option.

Best Mineral Sunscreens

So without further ado, here are 5 best mineral sunscreens at every price point:

Bare Republic Mineral Sport Stick SPF 50 $9.99

I use this every day on James before he goes to camp, and also on the go. The no-mess, carry-everywhere stick goes on white, then blends easily so I don’t send him to summer camp looking like Casper 

MANDA Organic Sun Paste SPF 50 – $28

Designed with surfers in mind, this tinted sunscreen product goes on and STAYS on. Scott loves this one because he can put it on his face and head whether he’s paddling out, or playing golf without looking like a Zinka commercial from the 80’s. My only complaint is that the tint is a light peach which is just as bad as white on dark skin. I wish they made the colors more inclusive!

Beautycounter Tinted Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 – $39

I have a ton of little spider veins in my legs, so when Beautycounter launched a tinted version of their mineral sunscreen spray, I was beyond excited to try it! This barely-there tint comes in two colors and does a great job of masking imperfections without looking like full-on leg makeup. Also, it’s one of the few sprays I’ve found that doesn’t contain titanium dioxide.

Beautycounter Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – $39

As someone with dry, sensitive skin, the extra bit of hydration I get from a lotion helps me avoid post-sun peeling and flaking. (Yes, this happens to me even when I don’t burn.) This light, non-sticky formula is my holy grail of sunscreens. 

Honorable Mention: Badger Clear Zinc Mineral Sunscreens – $3.49 – $18.99

I haven’t personally tried these products, which is why I give them honorable mention. However, the reviews are great, multiple reputable sources have recommended them, and their Environmental Working Group ratings and ingredients are stellar. I’ll be giving them a try the next time we run out. I only wish they made a spray!

Do you have a non-nano mineral sunscreen that you love? Share your two cents in comments below!

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