8 Natural Sunscreens Your Skin (and the Environment) Will Love

BY Janeca Racho · September 26, 2018

natural sunscreens on the sand

As proponents of skin health, we’ll never get tired of repeating this mantra: Never leave home without sunscreen. Adequate sun protection is an essential part of life, but it comes with an unfortunate catch: Some sunscreens you find on beauty aisles are loaded with toxic chemicals that may be harmful not only to our bodies but also to the environment. And if Hawaii’s recent ban on certain chemical sunscreens tells us one thing, it’s that the threat they pose to marine life is even more serious than we thought. The good news? Natural sunscreens are generally deemed just as effective as their chemical counterparts—sans the health and environmental risks associated with harsh synthetic ingredients.

How Certain Ingredients Harm the Environment

While sunscreens do a good job of protecting your skin from the effects of UV rays, they are also causing damage somewhere else. Most commercially available sunscreen products contain oxybenzone or benzophenone-3 and octinoxate, which are chemical filters that absorb UVA and UVB rays. Oxybenzone, in particular, is a readily soluble photostabilizer that is widely used not only in sunscreens but also in cosmetic products like nail polishes, hairsprays and fragrances (products that often come in clear glass bottles and get exposed to sunlight).

But as effective and prolific as oxybenzone and octinoxate are, they’re also known to have a bad rep. And for good reason. According to the Environmental Working Group, oxybenzone ranks high on the list of ingredients that cause allergic reactions and it has the potential to disrupt endocrine functions. And octinoxate is no better.

But that’s not all. Recent studies show that these chemicals are insidiously harming the ocean and its marine life, particularly corals. Both oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to affect coral growth, speed up coral bleaching and alter coral DNA and reproduction, making it harder for coral reefs to heal and support marine ecosystems.

Why Choose Natural Sunscreens

Unlike chemical sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, natural sunscreens (also known as mineral or physical sunscreens) take advantage of the inherent protective properties of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide against sun damage. These mineral ingredients create a barrier on our skin and shield it from UVA and UVB rays, acting like millions of microscopic hats and umbrellas. Zinc- and titanium-based sunscreens are also less irritating to the skin, and more important, have not been found to pose the same danger to the environment as their chemical equivalents.

Ready to make the switch to safer, cleaner and more natural sun protection? Check out our top picks for natural sunscreens!

1. Love Sun Body 100% Natural Origin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Fragrance-Free

Sun protection doesn’t get any safer or purer than this mineral sunscreen that also happens to be the only COSMOS-certified natural sunscreen in the United States. COSMOS, which stands for COSMetic Organic and Natural Standard, is a globally recognized set of guidelines for products that want to be known as natural or organic. Earning a COSMOS certification means a product has passed the highest standards and adheres to the principles of green chemistry in all aspects of its production—from ingredients and packaging to materials and facilities. Following its criteria, a product can either be certified COSMOS Organic (95 percent of all ingredients must be organic) or COSMOS Natural (ingredients that are mostly from a natural origin or are organic).

Infused with antioxidants, coconut oil, vitamin E and zinc oxide, this sunscreen features a sheer, quick-drying formula that absorbs seamlessly and leaves a moisturizing matte finish. Hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin types (and corals too!).

2. Eminence Organic Skin Care Organic Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30

Weightless and water-resistant, this mineral powder keeps your skin protected from UV rays while controlling oil and shine, leaving you with an even, matte finish. It comes in six gorgeous shades to match every skin tone and a brush-on applicator for easy, on-the-go touchups.

3. Luzern Laboratories La Defense Urban Protect Mineral BB Crème SPF 20

Some days, you just don’t have the time (and energy) to put on a full face of makeup, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip sun protection as well. This double-acting BB cream offers broad-spectrum UV protection and delivers luminous, natural-looking coverage to refine the appearance of wrinkles, large pores and light pigmentation. Infused with botanical extracts and antioxidants, it fights off the effects of oxidative stress and helps boost collagen production.

4. Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen

Whether you’re blazing past trails, gliding on waves or conquering summits, this chemical-free, water-resistant sunscreen will make sure you’re always protected from harmful UV rays. Tailored to fit your outdoorsy lifestyle, it offers broad-spectrum coverage, absorbs quickly and is packed with vitamins and antioxidants to defend your skin from the sun’s rays and free radical damage.

5. The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50

Featuring skin-loving ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, rosehip and vitamin E, micronized zinc and titanium dioxide, this mineral sun cream works as both a UV filter and moisturizer. It offers broad-spectrum protection, delivers age-fighting nutrients into your skin and helps soothe inflamed and irritated skin.

6. Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18

We’re huge fans of multitasking skin care products and this anti-aging moisturizer and sunscreen gets top marks in our book! Featuring Swiss apple, alpine rose and Mexican prickly poppy stem cells, squalane and 10-percent non-nano zinc oxide, it helps slow down signs of aging, delivers intense hydration and improves the skin’s barrier and elasticity—all while offering broad-spectrum sun protection. Plus, it leaves a dry, matte finish so you won’t have to worry about excess grease and shine!


7. This Works Perfect Legs Skin Protector SPF 30

Now that beach season is over, it’s time to undo the damage that too much sun, chlorine and salt water has done to your legs. And the best way to do it is with this tinted serum that does double duty as a sun protector and skin enhancer. Infused with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and natural caramel, this potent formula reduces inflammation, keeps skin hydrated and leaves you with a radiant, healthy-looking complexion.


8. Suntegrity Skincare SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body

Daily sun protection doesn’t just start and end with your face—the rest of your body needs defending too! Infused with hyaluronic acid, green tea, aloe vera and jojoba, this zinc-based, oil-free mineral sunscreen offers complete sun protection. It also helps counter the effects of free radical damage while keeping your skin hydrated and redness at bay.

Janeca Racho

With over 10 years of writing and editing experience, Janeca Racho has worked with clients in the fashion, entertainment, food, health and travel industries. An adventurer at heart, she will gladly trade her heels for ... Read More >

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