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Photo courtesy of Tom Watson/The Licensing Project

The 10 Best Clean Sunscreens

We’re always looking for clean sunscreens—with the complicating factor that they can’t be impossible to apply. Like most products in the personal-care industry, it’s difficult to tell what’s what, though in our world, we’re focused exclusively on the best mineral—rather than chemical—options.

The former use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block UVA and UVB rays physically by sitting on top of the skin; chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens can contain endocrine disruptors, skin irritants, and even sun-sensitizing ingredients, but they blend easily, while mineral sunscreens were once pretty difficult to apply. But new tech has changed mineral formulas for the better—in some cases quite dramatically.

Challenges drive change and innovation, says goop’s VP of product development, Akshay Talati, who’s a registered pharmacist and a long-standing member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, where he sits on the board of the committee on scientific affairs. “Formulating elegant all-mineral broad-spectrum sunscreens that are SPF 30–plus, with no white cast on any skin tone, without a shiny, pasty, or sticky texture, was difficult,” says Talati. But clean-sunscreen technology has caught up: “There are now better premade dispersions with small and uniform particles, advanced coatings that allow for transparency, elegant wetting agents for more-lightweight textures, film formers to enhance sweat and water resistance, and SPF boosters for improved efficacy. Together they make a huge difference.” So we’ve been able to fill the goop shop with clean sunscreens that both meet our standards of safety and apply beautifully. For this story, we winnowed the list down to 10 that feel particularly luxurious and go on like a dream.

MINERAL SUNSCREENS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Active Ingredients

Mineral sunscreens contain only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or both). Be wary of the term “mineral-based,” which often means zinc oxide or titanium dioxide has been mixed with chemical sunscreen. Even if the active ingredients are all-mineral, make sure that the formula is not otherwise loaded with toxic ingredients. Red flags include BHA/BHT, cyclic silicones, ethanolamines, synthetic fragrance, and anything ending in “-paraben.” Our picks in the goop shop are free of these ingredients and mineral-only.

Water Resistance

A sunscreen can claim to be water-resistant only if it has undergone a 40- or 80-minute test. If water resistance is not stated clearly on the label, the sunscreen will most likely wash or sweat off. Not all the sunscreens in the goop shop are water-resistant, but these four are.

  1. Gentle antioxidant-rich SPF 30

    Supergoop PLAY 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 30 with Green Algae
    Supergoop PLAY 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 30 with Green Algae goop, $36
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  2. Hydrating lightweight SPF 30

    Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
    Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 goop, $43
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  3. Ultramoisturizing SPF 30 for Body

    Unsun Hydrating Full Coverage Body Lotion SPF 30
    Unsun Hydrating Full Coverage Body Lotion SPF 30 goop, $32
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  4. Tinted SPF 30 for Easiest Blending

    Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30
    Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen goop, $29
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Broad-Spectrum

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

  1. Creamy and Nourishing SPF 30

    Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30
    Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 goop, $39
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  2. Sheer and Beautifully Textured SPF 30

    Saint Jane Luxury Sun Ritual Pore Smoothing SPF 30
    Saint Jane Luxury Sun Ritual Pore Smoothing SPF 30 goop, $38
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  3. Moisturizing SPF 50

    The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50
    The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50 goop, $69
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  4. Fresh SPF 30 Serum

    MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum
    MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum goop, $52
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  5. Translucent SPF 40

    Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40
    Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40 goop, $42
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  6. Velvety-Smooth Semimatte SPF 35

    EleVen Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35
    EleVen Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35 goop, $50
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