Your Beach Bag Isn’t Complete Without One Of These Mineral Sunscreens
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You've probably heard it before, and your dermatologist will never stop saying it. Covering your skin with SPF every single day is a must to helping reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Something you've probably heard less, though: Not all sunscreen is made the same. You've got two options: mineral and chemical sunscreens.
Mineral sunscreens (also known as physical sunscreens) use ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block UV rays from penetrating the skin," says California-based dermatologist Divya Shokeen, MD. "They're ideal for children or acne-prone, rosacea-prone, and sensitive skin patients as they tend to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens."
Mineral sunscreens also "tend to have a more cosmetically elegant finish," meaning they're a good choice for layering under makeup, Dr. Shokeen says. They often leave a smooth, dry, almost primer-like coating on the skin.
You should keep in mind that if you do opt for a mineral sunscreen, though, you should make sure to apply it at least half an hour before sun exposure. This will allow your skin the chance to absorb the chemicals for proper protection, Dr. Shokeen explains.
Ready for a sun bath? Below, see the 18 best mineral sunscreens, per dermatologists and reviews.
Dr. Camp likes this SPF 30 sunscreen from Supergoop! "It spreads easily on the skin and does not leave a white cast. It also contains aloe leaf juice and squalane to keep skin hydrated." The dry, satiny finish means that this lotion works as a great primer under makeup as well.
Rave Review: "I have been trying to find a good mineral sunscreen for my face. This one has almost no white cast and any white cast goes away immediately upon rubbing it into your face. It sits really nice on my face and underneath makeup."
Eryfotona Ageless Tinted Sunscreen
This tinted sunscreen is "ideal for someone looking for a pigmented mineral SPF with broad protection and good coverage," says Dr. Shokeen. It offers an SPF of 50 and is formulated with antioxidants to combat sun damage while protecting you from future exposure.
Rave Review: "It blends well and provides great but light coverage. My dermatologist recommended it and I use it daily. My sensitive skin doesn’t have any type of allergic reaction. Love this product!"
Daily Dew SPF 35
Gain a dewy complexion and soft, moisturized skin while you protect yourself from the sun with this SPF 35 lotion from Kinfield. It's fortified with hydrating ingredients like jojoba oil and glycerin, which help to soften skin. Plus, it leaves a beautiful shimmer with no chalkiness.
Rave Review: "I love this tinted SPF face cream. I have sensitive skin and this felt lovely. Plus, it helps to blend in previous sun damage. I also used it on my arms and tops of my hands on winter vacation to a sunny location. I burn easily and usually stay out of the sun. I was able to enjoy being in the sun without burning!"
Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
"This is a great option that provides UVA and UVB coverage using entirely physical blockers (zinc and titanium)," says Dr. Shokeen. It also has a subtle tint that's not overwhelming and works on a wide range of skin tones. "The tint is great for someone with drier or more sensitive skin looking for mild coverage," says Dr. Shokeen.
Rave Review: "I usually go from product to product trying new things, but I loved this so much I bought it again. It’s a small bottle, but because it’s a liquid it goes a long way. There’s a tiny bit of color to it so it doubles as a light foundation. I have very light skin and this is perfect. I don’t like noticeable foundation. I think if your skin is darker it would work just as well because the product isn’t thick."
All-Physical Wrinkle Defense Sunscreen
This everyday sunscreen from Dr. Dennis Gross is a favorite of Dr. Camp's and is a great option for layering under makeup. It's super lightweight, non-greasy, and fragrance-free. Plus, it provides 30 SPF protection without tinting your skin white, thanks to its 16 percent zinc oxide content.
Rave Review: "I’m on the light side of white and have combination skin. I used this sunscreen all summer and never had a problem. This is really something for me because I use retinol that makes my skin sensitive to other products and sunlight, and it’s been difficult to find good sunscreen."
This beautiful bottle of sunscreen has an avid fanbase, including Dr. Shokeen. OathMD Inzincable sunscreen is an entirely physical blocker that contains zinc, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides. "The zinc and titanium dioxide are great for broad spectrum UVA and UVB coverage and the iron oxide protects against blue light from devices," says Dr. Shokeen. This makes it ideal for acne, rosacea, or melasma-prone skin," she explains.
Rave Review: "I have NEVER experienced such smooth velvety sunscreen until Inzincable sunscreen. It leaves me with such a nice subtle glow. My skin LOVES it! I am a current Winlevi cream and Tretinoin cream user and this sunscreen is a must in my arsenal. No pilling—my absolute holy grail!"
UV Stick Sunscreen
"This sunscreen stick is a great sunny day sidekick because it’s easy to travel with, offers all-mineral SPF 50+ protection, and blends in without leaving a white residue on the skin," says Dr. Camp. You won't have to worry about leaks or messy streaks with this product, thanks to the hands-free stick-style applicator.
Rave Review: "I can see this lasting long. It’s easy to apply on my face and neck. This also doesn’t break me out which is great. I can only use very few sunscreens due to my sensitive skin and I’m glad to add this to the portfolio. It doesn’t leave that much of a white cast compared to other sunscreens, so I would say this is brown-girl friendly."
Botanical Mineral Sunscreen
If you love fragrant sunscreen, this Australian Gold lotion is for you. It has a lovely citrus scent and offers SPF 30, plus water resistance for up to 80 minutes. So, you can confidently wear this sunscreen in the pool or during an outdoor sweat session.
Rave Review: "I love the way this sunscreen spreads and feels on the skin. It feels hydrating and has nice ingredients such as panthenol, squalane, shea butter, and dimethicone."
Mineral Sunscreen Lip Balm
"Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your lips and ears," says Dr. Camp. "This SPF lip balm contains zinc as well as vitamin E and shea butter to fortify delicate skin." It's easy to pack and reapply throughout the day using the tube-style applicator.
Rave Review: "I love it—it goes on like a regular lip balm without the weird texture. While it does make the color of my lips look a little lighter, it doesn't turn them white so it looks natural. It also doesn't have a weird taste like other ones tend to have. I hope they never stop making this!"
100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
This mineral facial sunscreen from CeraVe offers extensive coverage, thanks to a high concentration of both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Some users note that the cream leaves a white cast on the skin, but it can be mixed into foundation for a more even complexion.
Rave Review: "Easy to use. I have CeraVe moisturizer, and then I apply this SPF. Works great. No white cast, but I do prefer the tinted version for more glow and glam. For reference, I am an Indian woman with light tan skin."
Mineral Magic Oil-Free Mineral Sunscreen
If you're looking for a lightweight tinted SPF that can replace heavier foundations for everyday wear, look no further. This cute little blue bottle from Tula contains quick-absorbing tinted sunscreen that gives skin a glowing, even tone with no white cast.
Rave Review: "It's a perfect sunscreen for oily/combination skin as it leaves a matte finish and no greasy residue. This formula also leaves a subtle tint perfect for no makeup days just to give you a bit of light coverage."
(Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder
This genius product allows you to reapply your SPF without ruining a face of makeup. Simply brush on the (Re)setting powder to get a bit of a glow and protect your skin. It comes in three shades to match a range of skin tones. Yep, Supergoop appears twice on this list because it's just that good.
Rave Review: "I have always struggled with the fact that if you wear makeup, you can't really reapply sunscreen, and I have gotten burnt many times because of this. However, this sunscreen changed the game! It worked great over my makeup and was easy to reapply midday. I also liked how it has a locking mechanism. Not to mention, I am very acne-prone and this stuff didn't affect my skin at all. The shade worked well on my skin and I would definitely recommend this to a friend."
This is a thicker, more substantial lotion that's ideal for especially burn-prone skin. It has a creamy texture that takes a few minutes to fully sink into the skin, but once it does, you're fully covered. It works even if you're in the water—for only up to 40 minutes, though. The product is free of parabens and sulfates.
Rave Review: "I adore any and all Indie Lee products, so I was thrilled to hear they released a sunscreen. I've used this all summer and it is very thick and provides coverage that lasts."
Mineral Body Organic Sunscreen
Coola body sunscreen works hard to protect you from sun damage. It has a thick, dense texture that's highly waterproof (in fact, some users note that it can be challenging to wash off), and is great for swimmers. The larger bottle is also more reasonably priced.
Rave Review: "This sunscreen is the best one I’ve ever used and it provides excellent protection. I’ve tried many other sunscreens before this one and they were all oily, which caused me to get sunburned. It has a matte finish, neutral smell, and natural ingredients."
Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen
This larger bottle is a great buy for a family beach vacation. The zinc and titanium dioxide formula protects against strong UVA and UVB rays. Plus, the sunscreen is waterproof and soaks into the skin within a few minutes to avoid a white tint.
Rave Review: "I'm so happy with this product. Blue Lizard is terrific at protecting your skin from the sun. I took this on a trip to Bali and never burned, even in the sun all day on a boat. It blends in perfectly without any white residue. It feels light on the skin after 20 minutes and you don't know you have anything on."
Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen
This tinted sunscreen offers a high SPF of 50 and has a universal tint that should absorb evenly into any skin tone. It dries light and dry with a matte finish, so you can apply the lotion under makeup or skip additional makeup altogether.
Rave Review: "When I first saw the color of the sunscreen I was a little worried, especially knowing it is a mineral lotion. To my joy, it wasn't as thick or powdery as the regular mineral sunscreen I bought and then threw away. Plus, the tint looked a bit dark, but for my skin, it blended really well which was super nice."
DreamBeam Mineral Sunscreen
Kosas' DreamBeam sunscreen won't only protect you from the sun, but it can serve as a skin-boosting primer for your makeup, too. It's loaded with ceramides and peptides that moisturize, smoothen, and brighten skin. This sunscreen is also a clean option made without silicone to prevent irritation.
Rave Review: "This product blended in with my skin very smoothly. It also does not have your typical sunscreen scent, which is nice to not smell on your face. It feels hydrating on my skin after applying it. I did not experience any breakouts. I also like how I can use this as a makeup base as well."
The Mineral Sunscreen
This hydrating, fragrance-free sunscreen is made with algae to prevent sun damage and premature aging, and hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and panthenol to plump the skin with moisture. It's also hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, making it pretty safe for those with sensitive skin.
Rave Review: "I have very sensitive skin. I came across this sunscreen. Wonderful product, super easily absorbed, and layers perfectly on top of my regular skincare routine. I have used it for two days now and I’m obsessed. The texture of it is amazing."
What should I look for in a mineral sunscreen?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays), an SPF of 30 or higher, and water resistance, says New York-based dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD. Look for all of these features on the sunscreen label before buying.
What’s the difference between a chemical and a mineral sunscreen?
Mineral sunscreens work by reflecting the sun's UV rays away from the skin, preventing your body from absorbing the potentially damaging light. They do this by using—well—minerals, like zinc oxide. "Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb UV rays and then convert them into heat energy that's then released from the skin," Dr. Shokeen says.
How can you tell the difference between the two?
Always inspect the label before you buy a new bottle. "The labeling on most sunscreens will advertise if the product is a chemical or mineral sunscreen," Dr. Camp says. "Another way to check is to look at the list of active ingredients. If only titanium or zinc are listed, then the product is a mineral sunscreen."
Does a mineral sunscreen expire?
The active ingredients in mineral sunscreens, titanium and zinc, are pretty stable over time. However, "the other ingredients will degrade. These include preservatives that prevent bacteria and dispersants that make the sunscreen easy to spread over your skin," Dr. Camp says. Check for a "use by" date on the bottle, and be sure to finish the sunscreen before it expires.
Are they water-resistant?
"Many mineral sunscreens are water-resistant, but they have varying degrees of effectiveness," Dr. Shokeen notes. "The sunscreen label will show a number between 40 and 80. This indicates the degree of effectiveness when worn in the water, such as swimming or sweating." Regardless of the water resistance rating, always reapply at least every 60-80 minutes.
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