What is the difference between a sunscreen and sunblock? What is a mineral sunscreen, organic sunblock, paraben-free sunprotectant? You are probably asking those questions when you start with your quest for a product that would protect your skin from burning and not contain harmful substances. You will find the best natural sunscreens for your face in this article.
Best Natural Sunscreen For The Face: Is There Any?
I think you might rather be asking is any of the sunscreens or sunblocks safe or free of chemicals or even organic. This topic can be very confusing and the terms or words don’t make it easier.
Why is it so confusing?
First, there are two types of products: one group blocks the UV rays making a physical shield and the other one absorbs the rays being like a chemical block. Sunblocks are those that create physical protection acting like a shield. On the other hand, sunscreens absorb the UV radiation and may be also absorbed by the skin. That’s why they are called chemical protection.
However, the physical shield in sunblocks is created by chemical substances such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, being the main active ingredient there.
Since zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are technically chemicals, it’s actually more accurate to refer to physical sunscreen as “inorganic” and chemical as “organic.”
So let’s get it straight once again: the physical protectants contain chemical substances. But they are not harmful. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are regarded safe and are FDA-approved.
On the flippside, sunscreens usually contain organic chemical compounds (octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, octocrylene, ecamsule). You should try to avoid these substances.
Another confusing thing is that the cosmetic products are generally called sunscreens no matter what they are based on. So some of the sunblocks listed below are named sunscreens on the packaging even though they work as sunblocks.
Not all mineral sunscreens are a good choice, though, if you are concerned of the environment as well. Many mineral sunscreens contain nanoparticals, microscopic particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Research suggests that these nanoparticles may be harmful to coral reefs.
What is SPF?
SPF means sun protection factor of the sunscreen. SPF measures how well a sunscreen can block UV rays so that they don’t harm your skin. The number attached to the SPF indicates how long the sunprotectant can prevent your skin from getting red. So if your sunscreen is SPF 20, it should keep your skin from burning for 20 times longer than if you didn’t use any sunscreen.
As to UVA and UVA protection, the difference is that UVA protects from aging, UVB protects from burning.
What SPF Factor Should I Choose?
It is recommended to protect the skin using high SPF factors. The American Academy of Dermatology provides extensive information on the sun protection:
“Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.
It is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.”
What Sunscreen Will Suit My Skin Best?
When you are choosing the best sunblock or sunscreen for your face, you should take your skin type into consideration.
If your skin is
- Dry. Avoid sprays as they often contain alcohol. Look for a sunscreen with a moisturizer.
- Darker. All chemical sunscreens should work well. If you prefer a physical sunscreen, look for a sheer one.
- Acne-prone. Stick to lotions rather than creams to prevent pores from clogging.
- Oily. A lightweight sunscreen that dries quickly on your skin. It might contain alcohol.
- Sensitive. Go for a physical sunscreen and make sure it is fragrance-free.
Now let’s look at the best non-toxic sunscreens, shall we?
This list based on an extensive research and reviews on Amazon. However, every person has different body and different needs so the best thing is to try the product on your skin and see how happy you are with it.
The Top Ten Natural Sunscreens for the Face
1. Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Sunscreen Extra Sensitive For Face SPF 40
- Ultra sheer, lightweight & hypoallergenic sunblock for extra sensitive skin.
- Formulated FOR EXTRA SENSITIVE SKIN: This mineral sunscreen is specifically developed with non-nano zinc.
- ZINC-BASED, MINERAL FORMULA: Specially formulated with skin-soothing organic oils like avocado & jojoba.
- Oxybenzone and Octinoxate free.
- ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY. Reef Safe. No Oxybenzone. Mineral Based sunscreen.
- NO HARSH CHEMICALS OR IRRITANTS: Hypoallergenic to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.
- Odd scent
- It is not as soft as some other facial sunscreens
Jordyn says in her review: “I love babo sunscreen. This particular facial sunscreen is affordable, has clean ingredients and goes on sheer and not greasy. For those reasons alone I would certainly purchase it again. It is also easy to find on amazon and the small size fits nicely into a purse or beach bag.”
2. 100% Pure Tomato Lycopene SPF 20
Lightweight face lotion made with mineral sunblock.
- Unique composition: ALOE VERA, sea buckthorn, sunflower, coconut, and vitamin E oils
- With UVA and UVB blocking minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide
- Keeps your skin soft, soothed, and protected with this handy on-the-go moisturizer.
- Tomato lycopene is a powerful antioxidant fighting free radicals
- It leaves a white cast
- The scent is not as pleasant as other sunscreens
Rated 3.8 out of 5.
3. DRMTLGY Face SPF 45
Best non-greasy facial sunblock
- Suits well all skin types: oily, combination, dry, normal, and sensitive skin.
- This formula is fragrance free, non-greasy, oil-free, paraben-free
- Doesn’t leave white residue.
- For those who are concerned of aging: contains ANTI-AGING FORMULA: Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide improve the skin’s appearance
- HYALURONIC ACID AND NIACINAMIDE plump the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce pore size, correct uneven skin tone, and hydrate the skin.
- Recommended by dermatologists: does not clog pores or cause breakouts. Provides antioxidant protection that combats skin-aging free radicals associated with ultraviolet (UV) and infrared radiation.
- It is a bit shiny
Ashlie says in her review: “I love this sunscreen. I had a really hard time finding a face sunscreen that didn’t have potentially bad ingredients, didn’t leave my face with a white sheen and also didn’t irritate my sensitive skin and cause breakouts. Also, most sunscreens were leaving my face shiny and oily looking. This product has done a great job protecting me from sun damage while also providing good moisture and limited shine. My skin texture and color has improved because I can use this product every day without breaking out so I get sun protection every day. I was worried the bottle seemed small and I would have to refill often but I use 2-3 pumps a day and it seems to last forever.”
4. Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Daily Defense
Drunk Elephant is committed to using only clean ingredients that directly benefit the skin’s health.
- Sheer physical daily sunscreen that delivers broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and helps aid in the prevention of free radical and oxidative damage.
- Contains astaxanthin, grape juice and sunflower shoot extracts to minimize the appearance of photoaging for a more youthful-looking complexion.
- Infused with raspberry seed and marula oils, Umbra Sheer™ delivers essential moisture and minimizes the look of fine lines and wrinkles for skin that appears healthy and preserved
- Ideal for daily use without any white reside or greasiness. Umbra Sheer™ is suitable for all skin types, including the most sensitive.
- This physical sunscreen is formulated without any chemical sunscreens, which can be sensitizing and not as beneficial to skin as the naturally-derived alternative, zinc oxide. Umbra™ is non-irritating, non-sensitizing and totally free of fragrance and essential oils.
- Not very pleasant smell although it is fragrance free
- The tube packaging doesn’t look very tempting
A reviewer, Yalonda says about this product: “Omg! This sunscreen is get for all skin complexions because it is completely clear. I was worried about the bluish tint that other sunscreens give chocolate girls but don’t worry ladies this is a dream come true. The amount of product you receive is well worth the price. A little goes a long way! I love Drunk Elephant.”
Weight: 3 oz
5. Biossance Squalane+ Mineral SPF 45
Biossance Squalane is a velvety-smooth primer with a unique formula as it contains zinc and titanium oxide protection from UV radiation and squalane that rejuvenates the skin.
The best sunblock for mature skin.
- Zinc & Titanium oxide, no other chemicals
- Squalane: Locks in moisture
- Chamomile oil & ginger root extract: Helps reduce the appearance of redness
- Mineral Light Reflectors: Reflects light to blur the look of fine lines, pores and other imperfections. Boost radiance on bare skin
- Aquatic safe
- Starts out white and creamy, once massaged into the skin feels weightless
- Daily facial UVA/UVB and infrared protection
- Creates a weightless, transparent UV protecting barrier
- Preps and primes the skin for makeup
- Leaves skin luminous and healthy-looking
- Named “Best SPF”, 2018 NYLON Beauty Hit List
- Leaves a glittery shimmer on your face
- Is a bit pricy
Donna says: I bought this mineral sunscreen because it has high SPF and free of toxins. It turns out as good sunscreen but also a great make-up primer, all in one. I have even used it without foundation because it really blurs imperfections and makes my skin look good.
Well, squalane in combination with chamomile and ginger root, that’s something you must love!
6. Coola Suncare Mineral Face SPF 30 Sunscreen Matte Finish
This combination of matte finish and non-greasy texture is the best natural sunscreen for the face for oily skin.
- With evening primrose and flax seed oils that improve elasticity and help skin retain moisture.
- Natural shea butter smoothes and hydrates while the phyto-protector plankton extract rejuvenates skin.
- Formulated for all skin types and tones, including those that are especially sensitive or oily.
- Lightly tinted
- Preservative free formula
- Water Resistant (40 minutes)
- No nano-sized particles
- It contains aluminium hydroxide
- Doesn’t contain enough zinc for skin protection
Naomi says about this product: “One of the nicest sunscreens which I’ve tried! The texture is lovely, it applies to the skin as a velvety layer without any stickiness or greasiness which can be a problem with so many sunscreens. It’s perfect beneath make up, I didn’t have any piling and it seemed to blur out my pores – always a bonus! I have dry skin but due to the formula I think it would work for those with oilier complexions too. While Supergoop Unseen is my favorite, I will probably buy a full size of this to keep in rotation!”
7. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion
The best scented facial sunblock.
- Australian ingredients: KAKADU PLUM, EUCALYPTUS
- RED ALGAE: highly nutritious Seaweed that provides the skin with vitamins, protein, amino acids and iron in order to have the skin hydrated and soft
- Fragrance Free: for use on even the most delicate skin.
- Eco Conscious Formulation: Paraben Free, PABA Free, Sulfate Free, Alcohol Free, Dye Free, BPA Free, Reef Friendly, hypoallergenic and not tested on animals.
- UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum Protection – Water Resistant (80 minutes)
- Hypoallergenic; Dermatologist and Pediatrician Tested; Not tested on animals
- Mineral Sunblock: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide
- POWDER-LIKE MATTE FINISH THAT’S NEVER GREASY
- Not the best natural sunscreen for the face if you have mature skin, might accentuate wrinkles.
- Might clog pores and cause breakouts for people with oily and sensitive skin
Review of Bonnie reads: “I have tried many SPF products for my face to wear everyday and there has always been something to let them down, high alcohol content, white cast, bad ingredients, poor texture, greasy etc.
But i cannot fault this product, its cruelty free, smells good, great ingredients, smooth application, matt finish, no cast and offers excellent sun protection with UVA and UVB barriers and a high SPF 50 factor.
My new found favourite! Its perfect!”
8. MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Perfect makeup primer.
- Contains antioxidants (vitamin C, green tea, cranberry fruit and pomegranate extracts)
- Oil and fragrance free
- Smooth, mousse-like consistency
- Long lasting, water-resistant up to 80 minutes
- Won’t clog pores
- Reef safe, cruelty free
- 100% clean ingredients
- High amount of silicones leave a slick residue/feel
- Tint is very sheer, other tinted sunscreens may even out the skin tone better
Harmony provides her experience here: “Still not entirely sure about this. LOVE the ingredients. Love the percentage of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Love the silicone-y satin matte finish. However, when I wear it with nothing underneath, it looks a little too bronze toned (I’m NC 25/NC 20). BUT– if I wear a serum underneath (like ZO’s non-tinted C-Bright serum), this strangely looks a bit chalky/white. After a while the chalkiness settles and it looks nice and natural-matte, but I don’t like that about it. Considering this is tinted, I’d imagine the un-tinted version gives even more of a white cast. But, it protects well, which is important, it’s tenacious, it’s cosmetically elegant to apply, and it does blur pigment to create a more even skin tone.”
There is also a version without tint.
9. Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion
Perfect vegan and reef-friendly sunscreen
- Fragrance-free, oil-free, water-resistant
- Vegan and reef friendly (free of octinoxate and oxybenzone
- Provides moisturizing sun protection
- Dermatologist approved
- Contains vitamin E
- For all skin types.
- Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation
- Cruelty free
- Very thin texture (runny)
- No good for people with rosacea
One reviewer says it leaked in their bag due to the runny texture and not the best container shape. All other reviews I found were overall positive. Charlotte shares her experience: “I’ve tried a lot of sunscreens for the face. I’ve even been to Japan and tried many of their “amazing” sunscreens, but nothing really worked for me. I have very dry, acne prone skin, and this stuff was awesome! I use it every day, even in the winter months – and I feel so good knowing I’m protecting my skin for the future and keeping it as young looking as possible. It is moisturizing for my dry skin yet very thin and light to apply. Also the bottle has lasted FOREVER. After heavy use this summer and daily small use this fall. I very much recommend.”
Weight: 3 oz
10. Thinkbaby SPF 50
Best option if you want to share it with your kids
- Applies and absorbs easily
- Smells like vanilla and orange
- First Sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care Requirements
- Rated onBest rating on EWG
- Free of biologically harmful chemicals. No PABA, parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, petroleum, gluten, dairy, or toxic chemicals. No animal by-products or testing.
- SPF 50+, broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
- Does not contain any known chemicals harmful to coral reefs. Highest level of biodegradability.
- Water resistance (80 minutes)
- Non-aerosol formulation
- Applies and absorbs easily. Doesn’t feel oily.
- Sunscreen produced in the USA
- It does leave a white cast when you first put it on
- It may not provide sufficient UVB protection, according to reviews
A traveller on instagram describes their experience with ThinkBaby: “Just discovered this sunscreen which is my new favourite. With all the talk about the dangers of chemical sunscreens, I’ve been trying to find a mineral sunscreen that I can trust to be healthy, but also won’t be so sticky and chalky that it induces screaming tantrums that quite frankly, make it all seem not worth the effort. But I think this is it! Think Baby meets all the highest standards, goes on easily, and even smells really, really good.”
When choosing your best natural sunscreen for the face, take your personal preferences, skin type and age into consideration.
If you have a dry or mature skin, you will love the properties of DRMTLGY or Biossance as they will hydrate your skin and provide it with nutrients.
To even out the tone of your complexion, a tinted sun protectant like MDSolarSciences will probably do the best job.
Also, don’t forget to cover up with a hat and long sleeves when you stay in the sun all day!