There’s nothing cool about a sunburn. It hurts now, you'll be rocking prematurely-aged skin later—plus it raises your risk of skin cancer. The best natural sunscreen will keep you protected from the sun without any hard-to-pronounce chemicals. But what does natural even mean? Just like with wine, “natural” can seem like just a marketing buzzword. After all, there’s no such thing as a sunscreen that hasn’t, in some way, undergone some sort of manipulation or engineering. There are no geysers of naturally-occurring sunscreen ready to be bottled, right?
But when it comes to sunscreen, natural has a specific meaning: it refers to products that use mineral (also called physical) shields—namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—as opposed to chemical sunscreens that soak into your skin. There are lots of reasons to prefer a mineral sunscreen: chemicals make a lot of people break out, they’re terrible for coral reefs, and lots of people are just generally creeped out by them.
The best natural sunscreen, on the other hand, sit atop the skin and simply block the sun. But while they all will protect you from the sun according to their SPF rating, they’re not all as pleasant to use. Some formulas will leave a chalky, white residue on your skin, while others disappear more easily. Body sunscreens will have denser formulas than those that are specifically designed as SPF-packed face moisturizers. Gentler formulas can be used on your face and body alike, which is especially great for anyone with sensitive skin.
So we tested and rounded up ten of the best natural sunscreens, whether you’re looking for serious sun protection for a beach trip or an SPF-added moisturizer to use every day.
Unlike most body SPFs, this one is fine to use on your face—it won't lead to excessive sweating or clogged pores. It applies clean and blocks UVA+UVB rays with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. If you have sensitive skin, then this gentle formula could be especially good for you.
The SoCal-based Bare Republic made big waves this year in the sun-blocking industry, thanks to a strong assortment of skin and hair products that shield and restore your body. One of their best products is this facial moisturizer, which you should apply year round, every single morning. Gradual UV exposure, even when you aren’t laying on the beach, is a big cause for skin aging and cellular mutation, so you need a lightweight, mineral-based product in place of your non-SPF moisturizer. (You can wear that one at night.) This one packs natural oils and extracts in addition to zinc and titanium, so that it hydrates and firms the skin while keeping harmful rays away.
Ursa Major's SPF-packed hydrator is amost primarily a high-end mouisturizer—it's packed with ingredients like squalane and sodium hyaluronate that strengthen, hydrate, and defend the skin's moisture barrier. Of course, it also blocks harmful UV rays thanks to the help of zinc oxide.
We’ve been sleeping on JASON far too long: The brand is a standout in nearly every grooming category, and this natural sunscreen is no exception: It’s gentle enough for babies (see the final product in this list for why “good on babies” is also “good on you”), and is made with shea butter, jojoba oil, aloe leaf juice, calendula and more, so that it soothes and nourishes the skin while you sit in the sun. (Those are many of the ingredients you want in a post-sun lotion, too, so just lather an extra layer on if you’re feeling a little fried.)
Thinksport's sunscreen is serious stuff, achieving SPF 50 with a whopping 20% zinc oxide to defend against UV rays. With 80 minutes of water resistance—which also means sweat resistance—this one's targeted at athletes who perform in the sweltering sun. Heads up that it is chalkier than many other options, so it's not the best pick for daily wear.
You could pick any product from COOLA’s roster, with full confidence in the brand that they won’t load your skin with harmful chemicals. This unscented sport spray is the best in its category, from a brand that is perhaps best in this entire category. It’s also loaded with a bunch of organic ingredients, like raspberry seed oil as well as cucumber, strawberry, and algae extracts, that hydrate and fortify the skin while the active ingredients shield the sun.
This moisturizer uses zinc oxide to defend your skin against UV rays, and it wears light so that you don't pour sweat while relaxing in the sun. Better yet, it's enriched with green tea and a unique mushroom complex, which together calm sun-exposed skin and soothe irritation.
An indie brand adored by surfers and hikers, SALT & STONE has engineered a sport-friendly, sweat-resistant sunscreen, void of any ingredients that might interfere with an earthy-crunchy ethos. It’s also made with antioxidants that thwart free radicals, in addition to the broad-spectrum coverage that shields from UVA and UVB rays. Together, it’s an expert anti-aging product—exactly what you’d expect from the adventurous and young-at-heart SALT & STONE team. Pair it with their sunscreen face stick with SPF 50, which offers the same benefits at a higher grade—since your face typically has more sun exposure than the rest of you.
Want to know an industry secret? If something is targeted at babies, then it usually means it’s engineered without harmful chemicals, and targeted at sensitive skin. Neutrogena’s “baby” sunscreen has garnered lots of accolades from dermatologists, including the National Eczema Association, thanks to its gentle ingredients. It’s loaded with titanium and zinc for high SPF coverage, and will benefit you just as much as it will any tiny, diapered human. Plus, it’s a steal by comparison to the rest! (You just have to explain to every inquisitive person as to why you’re wearing baby sunscreen.)
Have you ever covered your body in sunscreen, but forgot to apply anything to your lips? That burn is BAD. If you prefer a lip-specific product (or let's say you've been sipping cold ones in the sun while the rest of you stays dry), then you should keep an SPF-packed lip balm on hand. Here's a terrific mineral stick that uses both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to shield from damage, and vitamins C & E, sunflower seed oil, and ginger root extract to hydrate, soften, and fortify your lips.
Originally Appeared on GQ