Ditch Your Harmful Suncreens! 20 BEST Mineral SPF Options

29.08.2019

As a mom and clean lifestyle advocate, I’m constantly asked: what sunscreen I use, and consider safe for my kids? I know we’re at the end of summer now, but it's never too late to bring up this important topic. Before I share my recommendations for safe sunscreens, let's discuss the misconceptions about sunscreens and the differences so you understand what makes one safe or unsafe.

 

 

THE BAD & GOOD IN SUNSCREENS:

At some point in time, the sun gained a bad rep, often described as an enemy in the sky. So many of us began fearing the sun, not just because no one likes being sunburned, but also because of the warnings on skin damage, aging, and skin cancer. The problem is... while sunscreen sales increase for them, it also gives them too much power and control over the number of chemicals we absorb. Today, we have more information and awareness about the effects of excessive sun exposure and the many harmful chemicals in sunscreens, but we're not often reminded that the sun is also a critical part of living a healthy balanced life. Let’s not forget that the sun (in moderate doses) also supply’s us with a ton of health benefits, including balancing our vitamin D levels.

 

Did you know that excessive use of sunscreen contributes to a vitamin D deficiency? And in return, being deficient in vitamin D increases your risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It's no coincidence that diabetes is 60% higher in Black-Americans. Black-Americans and Latinos with darker complexions are affected at higher rates because, the darker your complexion is, the more sun you need for sufficient vitamin D levels. Fair/lighter skin, requires less sun to maintain sufficient vitamin D.

 

A clinical study, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association concluded, the overuse of sunscreen is one of the reasons why Vitamin D deficiencies have become so widespread. It’s widely known that more people today are spending less time outdoors, and when they do go out, they're typically wearing sunscreen. According to this study, about 1 billion people worldwide have insufficient vitamin D levels. Vitamin D levels seem to be more balanced in southern countries, due to their climate and more outdoor activities.

 

Overexposure to the sun can result in skin damage that could raise your chances of skin cancer, so if you’re spending the day at the beach or playing a sport outdoors for hours at a time, you should have some kind of protection or shielding with clothing. But this doesn't mean we should be blocking the sun or avoiding our exposure at all times. Excessive use of daily sunscreen lotions has numerous effects due to the toxins in them, along with contributing to lowering our vitamin D levels. This might seem like a tricky cycle but it’s up to us to find the right balance in protecting ourselves and benefitting from moderate sun exposure. 

GROUNDBREAKING PROOF:

Skin is our largest organ, and it's the gateway to the rest of our body. 

 

There’s a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, that proves the chemicals found in sunscreens reaches our bloodstream in just a day of application. The levels of chemicals found in bloodstreams were so high, it prompted a government investigation by the FDA on safety.

 

• The good news is: the FDA is finally proposing big changes expected to address these concerns, and may hopefully lead to making all sunscreens safer and more effective.

 

• The bad news is: these changes are not yet in place, and will take time to see these actions. So, current sunscreens in the U.S (2019) are still formulated with poor quality and unsafe chemicals. No word yet on when exactly these changes will take place.

 

This year 2019, EWG (Environmental Working Group) released their 13th annual guide to sunscreens. They reported that nearly two-thirds of sunscreens don’t work and/or contain alarming ingredients (which we now know our skin absorbs into our bloodstream quickly). After this made headlines, some brands attempted to reduced the number of chemicals in their sunscreens but EWG also reported: The majority of sunscreens available in the U.S still contain alarming levels of unsafe chemicals and fails to provide enough UV protection. What's even worse is... about half of the beach and sport sunscreens sold in the U.S wouldn't even be acceptable for sale in European standards.

 

 

OXYBENZONE DANGERS:

Oxybenzone is a huge concern for everyone, but especially children because it’s a hormone-disrupting chemical. Hormones are a critical part in childhood development, physically and mentally. Oxybenzone was found in 96% of the U.S population: Women’s breast milk, umbilical cords, amniotic fluid, urine, and blood. It's a known endocrine disrupter linked to reducing men’s sperm count and causing endometriosis in women. This is a common ingredient found in more than 60% of non-mineral sunscreens! As I mentioned before, it’s extremely absorbable and enters our bloodstream very quickly after application.

 

Oxybenzone is also a big threat to coral reefs. If the chemicals in sunscreens are bad for us, of-course it’s bad for the environment and wildlife in the ocean. As we contaminate ourselves and go swimming with our sunscreens on, we contaminate the ocean. Hawaii became the first state to ban sunscreens containing both oxybenzone and octinoxate to protect their coral reefs and Florida became the second state.

 

HIGHER SPF NUMBERS DOES'NT MEAN BETTER PROTECTION:

According to EWG and the FDA, higher spf numbers doesn’t mean better protection. Apparently the higher numbers are a misleading claim to consumers. The effective difference between SPF 30 and SPF 100 is approximately a 2.5% difference. Don't be misled by chemical based SPF numbers. Many people spend extra money on sunscreens labeled 60+ because they assume the higher number means more protection, and less reapplying. The FDA plans to ban SPF’s claiming numbers 60+ as one of their new safety strategies on sunscreens sold in the U.S. 

 

While UVA damage is more subtle than the sunburns induced by UVB rays, UVA rays can age the skin over time, while UVB causes those painful sunburns. Some sunscreens specify they block both UVA and/or UVB. But it's important you know there is no perfect sunscreen that is capable of blocking 100% UVA/UVB. You would need to reapply your sunscreen over and over, multiple times while under sun exposure to continue to block UVA + UVB. But again, I need to remind you that blocking the sun often is not good for us since doing so with sunscreens, can prevent us from absorbing vitamin D, disturb our circadian rhythm, and reduce our natural melatonin levels. 

 

BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF SUNSCREENS:

Yes, we want to protect our skin, not burn, age rapidly or get skin cancer, but there is no perfect sunscreen that protects us from ALL of this 100%. Optimal health is about balancing life under the sun while also living a healthy lifestyle in all other areas too. Addressing lifestyle as a whole provides far more protection from cancer, skin damage, and sunburns. 

 

If a person isn't exposed to the sun long enough to get sunburned, always wears sunscreen, and always follows instructions on the bottle to the T... it doesn’t guarantee they will never get cancer from other aspects of their life. 

 

 

SUNSCREENS PRO'S & CON'S:

✓ PROS:

• Sunscreens can prevent sunburns to a certain extent.

• Mineral Sunscreens are safer for us (with minerals like non-nano zinc oxide & titanium dioxide).

• Mineral Sunscreens are safer for coral reefs, wild life and the environment.

• Mineral Sunscreens can prevent skin damage caused by sun burns.

 

⚠️ CONS:

• Sunscreens alone cannot prevent Cancer.

• Sunscreens alone cannot prevent wrinkles/aging.

• Higher SPF numbers doesn't mean better UV protection.

• Chemical sunscreens fail to provide enough sun-protection.

• Excessive use of sunscreens in general contributes to vitamin D deficiencies.

• Darker complexions need more sun and less sunscreens in order to absorb Vitamin D.

• Non-Mineral Sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that absorb quickly into our bloodstream.

• Sunscreen chemicals were found in 96% of the U.S population at high levels in breast milk, umbilical cords, blood & urine.

 

 

 

 

HELPFUL APPS FOR PRODUCT SAFETY & LEARNING

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) app is a helpful way to become familiar with your products toxicity and safety level. You can either scan or search for food and beauty products by name (if the item is in the data base) and it’ll rate each product from 1-10 helping you determine how safe it is. 1 being the cleanest score and 10 being the dirtiest. In comparison to the two apps below, EWG Provides more accuracy in their ratings than the Think Dirty app does, because it only publicizes a products score when they have full data on the ingredients list.

 

Think Dirty is made for personal care products only, and it’s the easiest app to help you understand each ingredient listed individually. It rates products on a meter of 0-10 (0 being the cleanest and 10 being the dirtiest). Unlike the EWG app, you can click on each ingredient shown on a product, and it’ll breakdown why it scored a low or high rating and what evidence it has to determine its safety or hazard. It also recommends better alternatives to the dirty item you're looking at and while your at it, you can add products to your favorites list to determine how clean your overall toxicity is. Even though Think Dirty is easier to navigate and a better organized app, their ratings aren't always accurate.

 

The flaws with the Think Dirty app is... 

 

• It takes long for them to update new products/brands into their data base. But you can submit a product to them straight from the app, and when that products gets a rating, you get an alert on the app.

 

• Their ratings on some products aren't always accurate or updated with current information.

 

• Some products are given a score without having a fully disclosed ingredients list and that score is compared with other products that are disclosing all of their ingredients.

 

• For example; A product can have an 8-10 score (high hazard) because of one ingredient that may be an allergen (like an essential oil) while the other ingredients listed have a clean score. Essential oils can be an allergen that causes a reaction in some people, but it doesn’t mean it’s "unsafe" or hazardous to the general population. It's understandable with fragrances, which can boost a product up to a dirty 10 because that one word "fragrance" often contains over 20 hazardous ingredients that aren't listed. Essential oils are safer than fragrance but yet it can score high just like a Fragrance with toxins would. 

 

• Other ingredients score high due to impurities. But companies can have certificates of purity from suppliers to ensure that their ingredients are not contaminated and this isn't always taken into account in Think Dirty's scores.

 

CONCLUSION:

These flaws can confuse a newbie who doesn't understand how the rating methodology works, but it's still a beneficial app everyone should have. EWG has more accuracy with ratings but, Think Dirty is easier to use and provides more details on how safe or unsafe each ingredient may be. But both apps are a great asset to your clean living lifestyle, even with these flaws.

 

 

 

20 OF THE BEST MINERAL SUNSCREENS:

I only listed CLEAN BRANDS I consider safe + EWG scores

*This is not a complete list of all safe sunscreens

LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

100% PURE

1. SPF 30 Yerba Mate Sunscreen Spray: $39

• Made for face + body

• Mattifying formula

• UVA/UVB Protection

• 12% Mineral Zinc Oxide

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 3

• Think Dirty: 1

 

Keep in mind, this is not a moisturizer. Mattifying formulas tend to be more drying and It's best to moisturize skin before applying your mattifying sunscreen. I have not personally used any of the 100% Pure sunscreens but everyone knows, this is one of the top clean beauty brands, I have been using since the start of my clean transition back in 2013-2014. I highly recommend this brand overall.

 

 

BABO BOTANICALS

2. SPF 30 Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Spray: $22

Thrive Market Price: $13.99

• Fragrance free / For sensitive skin

For babies + adults

• Made for face + Body

• Lightweight + Sheer application

• 12% Mineral Zinc Oxide

No whitening residue

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for babies; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 0 ✓verified 

 

Babo Botanicals is one of my favorite baby brands to use on my one year old daughter and I’m especially a huge fan of their hair/body products. Their Sheer Zinc Sunscreen is perfect for me! It sprays on completely sheer without any white residue, it's water resistant, super lightweight, never sticky or thick, no matter how many times it's re-applied. This is especially important for people of color like myself.

3. SPF 50 Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen: $19.95

Thrive market price: $12.99

• Made for babies

• Fragrance Free

• Face + Body

• Lightweight + Sheer application

• 20% Mineral Zinc Oxide

• No Whitening residue

• UVA/UVB Protection

• GlutenFree + Soy Free

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for babies; safe for coral reefs

• EWG score: 1

• Think Dirty: 0 ✓verified

 

This is my favorite formula to use on my one year old. Its gentle, lightweight and sheer!

 

BIOSSANCE

4. SPF 45 Squalane + Mineral Sunscreen $39

• For Adults / Face + Neck 

• No Fragrance

• Lightweight / Non greasy 

• 7% Zinc Oxide + 4.069% Titanium Dioxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Starts off white with blue undertone; turns clear minutes after blending

• Has a golden luminous finish

• Use to prep + prime before makeup

• Not water-resistant 

• EWG: 0 Verified ✓

• Think Dirty score: 0 ✓verified 

 

This is one of my favorite skin care brands and this sunscreen is unique and special. It works great as a sun-protectant and primer under makeup. It does start off with a blueish white cast on skin, and takes about 10 minutes to become sheer but it's still one of my favorites to use under makeup due to the golden glimmer and lightweight, smooth feel. 

BEAUTYCOUNTER

5. Countersun SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist: $39

• 14.5% Mineral Zinc Oxide

• Evens skin tone / conceals flaws

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 3

• Think Dirty: N/R 

 

The countersun line has a tinted mineral sunscreen mist and non-tinted sunscreen mist. This is a great formula to protect and perfect your body’s skin appearance during summer, using just one item. I love this tinted version in the shade medium/deep for my legs because it gives a light weight coverage, evens out my complexion and conceals my imperfections. It’s also water resistant, and formulated with safe ingredients for us and coral reefs.

 

6. Countersun SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion: $25

• 19% Mineral Zinc Oxide

• Some white residue

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 40 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: N/R

 

NOTE: Beautycounter is a brand that goes beyond what is required in the U.S standards. They follow European safety standards which bans over 1,500 ingredients but additionally only use safe/clean ingredients. 

 

COOLA

7. SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Spray: $42

• Fragrance Free

• Face + Body

• Matte-Finish

• Lightweight

• Sprays on white; becomes sheer in minutes

• 14.5% Zinc Oxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 3

• Think Dirty: N/R 

 

This COOLA SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Spray is easy to apply and reapply on-the-go because it’s a lightweight spray, that's non thick and not greasy. It sprays on white but dries sheer without residue. Most importantly, It’s made with organic ingredients, without chemical sunscreen ingredients. 

 

Tip: If you have sensitive skin (or specific conditions like eczema) I recommend the fragrance free formula. I don’t have a skin condition, and still prefer no fragrance to prevent irritations that can occur under sun exposure and sweating.

 

8. SPF 30 Mineral Sun Silk Créme: $42

• Oil Free / Lightweight

• Fragrance Free

• No white cast

• 15% Zinc Oxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Not Water Resistant

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 1 

 

9. SPF 50 Baby Mineral Sunscreen: $36

• Fragrance Free

• Baby's Face + Body

• Rubs on white 

• 4.3% Zinc Oxide

• 7.3 Titanium Dioxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for babies; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 2

• Think Dirty: 3

 

The COOLA SPF 50 Baby Mineral Sunscreen is great for beach days with your baby. This formula goes on white and takes much longer to become sheer but it’s still a good option to prevent sunburns on babies delicate skin without the use of unsafe chemicals.

 

DRUNK ELEPHANT

10. SPF 30 Umbra Tinte & Umbra Sheer: $36

• Fragrance Free

• For Adults

• 20% Zinc Oxide

• Adds a golden radiance

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Safe for babies; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 5 

 

The Umbra Tint SPF 30 sunscreen is my favorite item from Drunk Elephant. I use the tinted version more than any other. Both versions are formulated with mineral derived 20% zinc oxide but I’m obsessed with the gorgeous luminous glow the tinted formula provides. It eliminates the need for foundation. It’s a one and done, type of product.

 

• If you have tan or brown skin like me, you’ll love the tinted formula.

• If you’re fair skinned, you might prefer the non-tinted version (umbra sheer). It’s not luminous or glowy. 

 

 

ERBAVIVA

11. Organic SPF 30 Baby Sunscreen: $23

• Fragrance Free

• Baby's Face + Body

• No white residue

• 20% Zinc Oxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for babies; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 0

 

HELLO BELLO

12. SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen: $8.78

• Fragrance Free

• Not Greasy

• For Kids & Adults

• Face + Body

• 20% Zinc Oxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: N/R

JUICE BEAUTY

13. SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen: $16

• Fragrance Free

• For all ages

• Face + Body

• 20% Zinc Oxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 0

 

This SPF 30 sport sunscreen is a great option for anyone with an active outdoor lifestyle or sweats a lot.

Best part: it’s formulated with organic ingredients. 

 

 

 

KYPRIS

14. SPF 30 Sunscreen & Primer: $75

• For Adults

• Calming/Soothing for Sensitive Skin

• Smoothens + Brightens skin

• 20% Zinc Oxide

• Not Whitening

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Not Water-Resistant

• EWG Score: N/R

• Think Dirty: N/R

 

Kypris is a luxury brand. This sunscreen + primer contains 20% zinc oxide and provides a nice radiance to skin. 

 

NATUROPATHICA

15. SPF 50 Daily UV Defense Cream: $58

• Fragrance Free

• For Adults

• Subtle Matte Cream

• Great for dry skin

• Thick + moisturizing

• 19.5% Zinc Oxide

• Some whitening residue

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Not Water-Resistant

• EWG Score: 2

• Think Dirty: 1

RAW ELEMENTS

16. SPF 30 Face + Body & Tinted Moisturizer: $18 & $19

• Zero Waste / Reusable Tin

• For Kids & Adults

• Fragrance Free

• 23% Zinc Oxide

• Not Whitening

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant beyond 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 2

17. SPF 30 Baby & Kids Sunscreen Lotion + Stick: $19 & $20

• Zero Waste / Reusable Tin

• Stick has compostable packaging

• Fragrance Free

• 25% Zinc Oxide

• Doesn't sting eyes

• Non irritating to sensitive skin

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant beyond 80 minutes

• Safe for babies; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 2

 

I love Raw Elements minimalistic, reusable and compostable packaging! I especially love the clean/organic ingredients. I highly recommend it for the entire family.

 

SUNTEGRITY

18. SPF 30 Mineral Body Sunscreen: $24

• Unscented / Fragrance Free

• For Babies, Kids & Adults

• For sensitive skin

• 20% Zinc Oxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Water-Resistant beyond 80 minutes

• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: N/R

 

This is such a good brand for the entire family! This brand has all sun related items, for face, body and tinted formulas too. Made with clean ingredients, safe for babies, adults and coral reefs.

 

The Organic Pharmacy

19. SPF 50 Cellular Protection Sunscreen: $69

• Fragrance Free

• For sensitive skin

• 12.5% Zinc Oxide

• 1% Titanium Dioxide

• UVA/UVB Protection

• Not Water-Resistant

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: N/R

 

THINK SPORT & THINK BABY

20. SPF 50 Safe Sunscreen: 3oz $12.99 - 6oz $18

• Unscented / Fragrance Free
• For Adults + Babies
• For Sensitive Skin
• 20% Zinc Oxide
• UVA/UVB Protection
• Water-Resistant beyond 80 minutes
• Safe for you; safe for coral reefs 

• EWG Score: 1

• Think Dirty: 4

 

This is the top rated sunscreen on EWG Skin-Deep rating database. It's a great sun care brand for the entire family. It contains only safe/clean ingredients and great protection. I highly recommend this sport + baby sunscreen. It's also water resistant, BPA free, and coral reef safe.

 

 

VITA LIBERATA

Body Blur HD Skin Finish: $45

• Softens the appearance of veins, cellulite, and scars
• For Adults Only
• Doesn't contain SPF 
• Washable with soap
• Organic ingredients 

• EWG score: N/R

• Think Dirty: 0 ✓verified

 

Vita Liberata has amazing organic, long-lasting, sunless-tanning products. Being that I'm already naturally tan, I don’t use their sunless-tanning products but I do use their body blur (which is makeup for your body and comes in 5 shades). I specifically use it on my legs for special occasions that require bare legs. It instantly perfects my skin, blurring out my scars with an airbrushed finish and evens out my skin tone. It also doesn’t transfer on to my clothing but I'm very careful to not rub wet product on my clothes. I apply it on exposed/unclothes areas like my legs and portions of my arm if needed. It’s removal when I shower/scrub it away with soap and water. 

 

 

SEE THE FULL LIST OF SAFEST SUNSCREENS HERE ⇠

 

SEE THE 14 WORST SUNSCREENS HERE ⇠

 

 

❥ Alba

 

 

 

 

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