Beauty

The 8 Best Clean Sunscreens

Photo courtesy of Tom Watson/The Licensing Project

The 8 Best Clean Sunscreens

We’re always looking for clean sunscreens—with the complicating factor that they can’t be impossible to apply. As with most products in the personal-care industry, it’s difficult to tell what’s what. In our world, we’re focused exclusively on mineral options, rather than chemical ones. The former (using zinc or titanium dioxide) physically block UVA and UVB rays by sitting on top of the skin, while chemical sunscreens actually absorb the sun’s rays—which is about as terrifying as it sounds. In keeping with our devotion to clean beauty, we’ve filled the goop shop with clean sunscreens that both meet our standards of safety and apply well (some mineral sunscreens can be gloppy and leave a white residue behind). We winnowed this story down to the eight that feel most luxurious and also go on the best. Below, some more details on what made the cut and why.

WHY CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS AREN’T GREAT

Chemical sunscreens employ a potent combination of chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate (octylmethoxycinnamate), homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone, many of which are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are scary because they’re most harmful in small doses, as they mimic the hormones that our bodies create daily and can interfere with everything from our reproductive systems to our metabolism. They’re particularly bad for young ones whose systems are rapidly developing.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER

Active Ingredients: Mineral sunscreens will list zinc and/or titanium dioxide only. Be wary of the term “mineral-based,” which often means zinc and/or titanium dioxide has been mixed with chemical sunscreens. The sunscreens in the goop shop are mineral-only.

Water-Resistance: A sunscreen can claim to be water-resistant only if it has undergone a forty- or eighty-minute test. If water-resistance is not stated clearly on the label, most likely the sunscreen will wash or sweat off. Not all of the sunscreens in the goop shop are water-resistant.

Broad-Spectrum: This is important, as it means that the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays. All of the sunscreens in the goop shop are broad-spectrum.

Even if the active ingredients are mineral, make sure that the formula is not otherwise loaded with toxic ingredients. Red flags include anything ending in -paraben, pthalates, sodium laureth sulfate, and fragrance. Our picks in the goop shop are free of other toxic ingredients. (For a more comprehensive list of chemicals to look for, check out our stories “The Dirty on Getting Clean” and “Clean Beauty.”)

8 Clean Sunscreens

  • The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 30

    The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 30

    For Body

    This light, hydrating SPF 30 cream smooths right into skin, and it’s brilliant for face or body. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide block both UVA and UVB, while shea butter, aloe, rose hip, and calendula nourish skin.

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  • UnSun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30

    UnSun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30

    For Face

    This beautifully textured everyday mineral sunscreen blends like an absolute dream on skin, and it comes in two super wearable shades: The medium/dark blends with skin tones from olive to dark chocolate, while the light/medium works for tones from very light to light sprinkled with freckles. Created by Katonya Breaux (fun fact: She’s singer Frank Ocean’s mom), who was frustrated at not being able to find clean, environmentally friendly sunscreen options for women of color, it’s made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to block both UVA and UVB rays, as well as skin-coddling aloe and shea butter. It’s reef-safe and great on its own or under makeup, and we love the finish: glowy, protected, natural-looking skin, with absolutely no whitish cast left behind.

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  • The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50

    The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50

    For Body

    This hydrating light SPF 50 cream smooths right into skin, and it’s brilliant for face or body. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide block both UVA and UVB rays, while shea butter, aloe, rose hip, and calendula nourish skin.

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  • Saie Sunvisor

    Saie Sunvisor

    For Face

    Shield your skin with this sheer, gorgeously textured, hydrating, lightweight zinc oxide sunscreen—it blends beautifully into skin, leaving it dewy and fresh. It works for all skin types, but it’s especially brilliant for those with sensitive skin. It comes out of the tube with a sheer, beige tint, but if you warm it between your fingertips for ten seconds or so, the finish is more translucent. It protects against both UVA and UVB rays and is infused with skin-care ingredients like grape-seed oil, hyaluronic acid, aloe, and vitamin E to plump, hydrate, and soothe skin. Plus, we love that the tube is made of 100 percent bioresin (sugarcane) as a substitute for virgin plastic.

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  • Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

    Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

    For Face and Body

    A hydrating, lightweight zinc oxide formula that works for everyone, from babies and sensitive-skin-sufferers to outdoor-sports enthusiasts. The broad-spectrum water-resistant formula protects against UVA, UVB, and blue light, and it’s infused with antioxidants and aloe vera. It sinks beautifully into skin and smells faintly of tangerine and lemon.

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  • Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage

    Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage

    For Face

    This glowy, translucent, instantly perfecting SPF 20 has to be the ultimate no-makeup makeup of all time. It’s less about masking flaws and more about looking and feeling like you—but better. The delicate, deeply hydrating formula smooths in like a dream; zinc oxide soothes all day; black currant, peony-root extract, and vitamin C enhance brightness; and powerful moisturizers leave you with smoother-looking skin.

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  • All Good Kid’s Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

    All Good Kid’s Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

    For Kids

    Organic coconut oil makes this easier to apply than most clean formulas—only one of the reasons we’re obsessed with this broad-spectrum, hypoallergenic, gluten- and GMO-free, vegan, biodegradable formula. Serious, totally safe sun protection for kids that feels amazing going on—a total breakthrough.

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  • Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Facial Sunscreen SPF 40

    Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Facial Sunscreen SPF 40

    For Kids

    Babo Botanicals has a lot of hits in its sunscreen line—the Daily Sheer Sunscreen Extra-Sensitive for Face (SPF 40) is lightweight and sheer and really great for those of us with extra-sensitive skin. Meanwhile, Babo’s Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 50) is perfect for kids: It’s gluten-free, vegan, and hypoallergenic, and it’s really easy to rub in, meaning you can beg enough patience from your toddler.

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