As any dermatologist will tell you, the most important thing you can do for your skin is slather on sunscreen — especially come summer when the sun’s rays are stronger and you tend to spend more time outdoors. But sunscreen has slowly been getting a bad rap.
A recent study by the FDA found that only two of the 16 commonly used ingredients in sunscreen are considered “safe and effective.” These were zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the blockers found in mineral formulas. What’s more, new research shows the absorption of chemical sunscreen ingredients into the bloodstream.
I’ll admit that even I was alarmed when I first read about these findings. But it’s still no excuse to skimp on sunscreen. Just consider this: One person dies every hour of skin cancer. It’s the most common cancer in the United States, but using SPF daily will significantly reduce your risk. Plus, there are plenty of formulas that offer safe and effective sun protection.
For those concerned with chemical filters, we’ve outlined some of the best mineral sunscreens below. While each has its own unique benefits, they all work by creating a physical block that reflects the sun’s rays, and unlike those of the past, this new crop blends more easily into skin so you’ll be more comfortable wearing them.
When it comes to sun safety, La Roche-Posay doesn’t mess around. The skin care company is dedicated raising awareness about harmful sun exposure and creating innovative sunscreen formulas that provide advanced protection. Case in point: The newest addition to their SPF lineup, which is formulated for both the face and body. As the name implies, it’s gentle enough for all skin types and uses 15 percent zinc oxide to block UV rays while antioxidants like senna alta and vitamin E help neutralize free radical damage. The creamy lotion blends in easily, leaving a soft (never sticky) finish, and soothes the skin, thanks to the brand’s proprietary mineral complex.
Free of chemical filters, this block uses zinc and titanium to reflect the sun’s rays away from the body. After application, it seemingly disappears and doesn’t feel greasy or oily on the skin. But here’s the best part: Though the lotion is lightweight, it’s heavy on hydration. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and three essential ceramides, it locks in moisture and helps restore a sun-stressed skin barrier. In other words, you’ll feel soft and supple — not scaly and rough — after a day in the sun.
This stuff is for you, sunscreen haters. Neutrogena’s new sunblock is about as sheer as it gets. The non-sticky lotion has a high concentration of zinc oxide to protect against UV rays without leaving behind a ghostlike cast. How they’ve managed this? I don’t know, but it goes on totally clear — no matter your skin tone.
What’s not to love about a good moisturizer with SPF, especially when it gives skin the prettiest glow? With mineral sunscreen filters and 12 powerful antioxidants, including reveratrol, kiwi extract, and vitamin E, this illuminating face lotion shields skin from the sun’s harmful rays. What’s more, it contains brightening vitamin C and niacinamide to help reverse any hyperpigmentated spots from damage that’s already been done. Wear it alone or follow with your favorite foundation.
The first of its kind, this mineral formula offers a refreshing new way to apply sunscreen. The fluffy mousse thoroughly covers large surface areas and is fast absorbing, providing breathable coverage and protection you can count on. It’s also packed with antioxidants and hydrating plant oils to fight environmental stressors. Plus, it gets extra points for the subtle coconut scent, which smells amazing!
EltaMD has quickly become a fan favorite for sunscreens, and it’s easy to see why. This facial formula is lusciously hydrating and melts in more like a moisturizing cream than a typical sunblock. It’s completely clear on application, thanks to the use of transparent zinc oxide, and infused with vitamin C to restore stressed skin and diminish signs of aging. Tip: Don’t just apply it to your face; use it on your neck and decollete to prevent lines and spots there, too.
Sure, some people say to stay away from sprays, but a sunscreen mist is often the fastest and easiest way to apply SPF. This pick is free of chemical filters, using non-nano zinc oxide as the allstar active instead, and incorporates innovative technology that disperses the product more evenly, making you less likely to miss spots. Heads up: Unlike chemical sprays, it goes on white and requires some rubbing, but dries clear and silky-smooth to the touch. Worth it!
Not only does this sunscreen boast 25 percent zinc oxide, but it’s also packed with powerful antioxidants, including vitamin E and bisabol, as well as squalane, a phenomenal ingredient that replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier for a healthy-looking complexion. The universal tint blends to match all skin tones without any white cast or streaks, and it imparts a glassy sheen — nothing too shiny or oily-looking. It’s great for everyday wear.
Dermatologists have long recommended Aveeno for sensitive skin, and this sunblock is no different. Using only zinc oxide to block the UVA/UVB rays, plus nourishing oat and calming feverfew, it’s choice for easily-irritated types. The thick lotion is surprisingly lightweight, and it’s also free of oils, fragrance, and parabens.
Consider this the bare-bones of sunscreen; it’s formulated without any anti-aging actives, since those can agitate certain skin types. The smooth texture feels more like a luxe lotion and leaves a silky finish that is great for layering on the products you use every day. It also contains hydrating shea butter, soothing aloe, and antioxidants like strawberry and kiwi.
If you’re concerned that sunscreen will make your face or forehead look super-shiny, this is your solution. The translucent mineral block absorbs in seconds, leaving a matte finish that smooths the skin’s surface, blurs blemishes, and minimizes the appearance of pores. It works wonders as a primer for makeup, but can also be used on its own to control shine and prevent sun damage.
Not only does this hydrating formula protect skin, but it also imparts a natural glow, thanks to the addition of quartz crystal. Also nice: Turmeric helps reduce redness while vitamin C brightens. Engineered with micronized particles that blend easily into skin, instead of looking washed out, your complexion will appear healthy and (safely) sun-kissed.
We often receive complimentary products for review at Glam. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a share of the revenue from our affiliate partners.