If you’ve seen the new report from the FDA concluding that chemical sunscreens are not as safe as we thought — for you or the environment — you may be looking for the best mineral sunscreens out there to replace your former go-to.
I started using a mineral-based sunscreen when I started getting melasma (AKA sunspots) after having my son. (Thanks, breastfeeding hormones!) So I’ve tried quite a few.
Evidently, mineral sunscreens are considered generally safe and help deflect both UV rays and heat, while traditional chemical sunscreen deflects rays but still absorb the heat. Hence the sunspots. Beyond that, studies are showing that more of the chemicals in chemical based sunscreens get absorbed into the bloodstream than previously known.
Checking ingredients? You want to look for a combo of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and avoid oxybenzone.
With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best mineral sunscreens on the market, whether you’re looking to save, or money is no object. I’ve also broken them down by price per ounce, so you can reasonably compare costs.
Be safe out there in the sun, families!
Related: The top 10 most affordable safe sunscreens for kids from EWG’s safer sunscreen guide.
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Our Picks for Best Mineral Sunscreens: The Splurges
EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+
$31 for 3 oz | $10.30 per ounce
This mineral sunscreen from EltaMD comes heavily recommended from tons of my Facebook friends, and I admit that I’m pretty obsessed with it now, too. It goes on super smooth for a mineral-based sunscreen, and has a nice light tint so you can even use it as a BB cream substitute; while it doesn’t provide a ton of foundation coverage, it’s a nice way to even your tone out a bit. I also like that the formula includes antioxidants so you can feel good putting it directly on your skin.
Supergoop PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50 with Sunflower Extract
$32 for 5.5 oz | $6 per ounce
The CMP team first discovered Supergoop way back when it launched in 2007 as Dr. T’s Supergoop, named for founder Holly Thaggard’s dad. Since then, she’s grown an entire line of fabulous Supergoop products that are kid-friendly and derm-approved, and now include lots of mineral-based sun protection products. The PLAY everyday lotion is hydrating, fast-absorbing and smells nice. It provides performance protection from UVA, UVB and IRA rays, while also helping prevent photoaging and dehydration. I like that it is formulated it to be water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes. Because hey, sometimes busy moms forget.
(If it’s sold out on the site, try Sephora, or a local high-end chemist that sells sunscreen products from smaller brands.)
face: $35 for 1.7 oz | $20.50 per ounce
body: $36 for 5 oz | $7.20 per ounce
Well, we’ve got both a splurge and a relative save here! Kristen and Liz swear by their Coola samples they got in a Fab Fit Fun box last summer. Coola’s dedicated mineral sunscreen for the face is spendy, but packs in a lot of anti-aging boosters, like rose hip and flaxseed oil, so it’s almost like a serum and a sunscreen in one bottle, with a silky matte finish that makes the perfect base for the rest of our makeup. Also, you don’t need to apply a ton, and it lasts.
The Coola Mineral Body Sunscreen however is a lot more affordable, and can be used on the face as well since it’s fairly sheer and lightweight — and it’s kind of nice to see it labeled as “reef friendly” for you ocean-goers.
Related: Common mistakes parents make when applying sunscreen on kids and how to fix them.
Our Picks for Best Mineral Sunscreens: The Saves
C’est Moi Gentle Mineral Sunscreen
$14.99 for 2 oz | $7.5 per ounce
Liz tried this one recently on a beach trip, and loved it. It goes on cleanly and evenly, and not too “white all over my face” for the kids — or you. It also held pretty well with hours in the pool, but as with all sunscreens, remember to reapply! I think it’s a good bet for anyone with sensitive skin who wants decent SPF 30 sun protection only without any of the extraneous color tint or fragrance.
Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen
$9.99 for 3 oz | $3.33 per ounce
This zinc oxide-based formula helps rank Aveeno as one of the best mineral sunscreens in the affordability category. By all accounts it’s lightweight and not oily, and great for more sensitive skin — though remember wear hats and cover up in the sun too, if you have extremely sensitive skin! There’s no fragrance either which is nice, and easily found in most pharmacies and drugstores. And it’s hard to beat this price, as you can tell.
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry Touch Sunscreen
$8.99 for 2 oz | $4.50 per ounce
If you’re looking for a hard-working mineral sunscreen at a decent price, look no further than this Sheer Zinc sunscreen from Neutrogena. I tried it a few months back, and it was kind of like wearing a fortress of sun protection — in a good way and a bad way. While my skin definitely felt well-defended in the sun, the sunscreen is quite difficult to fully rub in. I also kept finding white spots throughout the day. Eventually I started mixing it with a dab of moisturizer, and it went on much smoother. Worth the hassle? Depends on how much money you want to save. But lots of people love and trust Neutrogena products so it’s worth a mention.
Top image: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash
Supergoop is one of my favorites and now they carry a babies and toddlers collection.
Thanks for the suggestions! I wanted to add a few thoughts.
Often times, mineral sunscreens are not as cosmetically elegant as chemical sunscreens. That is an important factor to consider, given that people are more likely to put on sunscreens that apply well, feel good, and look good. Mineral sunscreen does not always fit the bill.
Also, I have recently read an article sharing that zinc oxide should be at 20% or more in sunscreen to be fully effective. Coppertone Pure and Simple SPF 50 is an affordable one that meets that percentage requirement. Keeping in mind, it leaves a white cast that does not fully disappear and that zinc oxide is very drying (so it is likely not a pleasing option for the face). I use it on my body only. I tend to use chemical sunscreen or combination sunscreen for my face, as zinc oxide does not sit well under my makeup and significantly dries out my face.
The best sunscreen is the one you will actually wear, whether chemical, mineral, or combination. I dislike the articles that scare folks away from chemical sunscreen for this very reason.
I suggest to you and your readers to follow ‘Dr. Dray’ on YouTube. A very knowledgeable dermatologist who shares all of the research on skin care safety, especially regarding sun protection.
Great lineup- I’m going to try a few of these! We use rash guards (my 4 year is basically in a bodysuit, lol!) and I like Think Baby and Beyond Coastal for sunscreens! Also, Supergoop has a fantastic makeup setting spray for the face with SPF 🙂