best natural sunscreen

Best Natural Sunscreen Brands for Your Body, Baby, and Beyond

When you’re first starting your green beauty journey, it can feel pretty overwhelming. You run through your house checking ingredient label after toxic ingredient label while fighting the urge to throw absolutely everything in the trash ’cause, well, you do need to put your face on tomorrow for work, right?

Totally been there.

But as much as you want to chuck everything and start anew, for the sake of your wallet and sanity – it’s better to prioritize. Naturally, sunscreen was towards the top of my list. I mean, my whole family uses it. And we use a whole lot of it to cover a whole lot of our bodies.

Each time I successfully find the green counterpart to a product I love(d), I feel like a tiny toxic weight has been lifted from my shoulder. When I finally managed to find safe sunscreens that worked for everyone in my family, I felt like a boulder had been lifted. And that’s a lovely feeling – one I wish on all the green beauties out there.

So for the sake of simplifying your sunscreen selection, I’ve gathered up the best natural sunscreens that fit our safe sunscreen criteria.

Safe Sunscreen Criteria

Here’s what to look for when hunting for the best natural sunscreen:

  • Free of nasties: Obviously totally free of the chemical active ingredients typically found in drugstore sunscreens like oxybenzone and octinoxate as well as toxic filler ingredients like parabens, phthalates, methylisothiazolinone, and well, you get the gist. In essence: no nasties, just natural ingredients.
  • Broad spectrum: It’s funny how we all know and go by the SPF system when all that actually measures is protection from UVB. Sure, UVB rays are what burns you, but UVA rays are the ones that really get under your skin to cause wrinkles, premature aging and in some cases, skin cancer. So for a safe suncreen to be truly safe, it’s got to protect us from both UVA and UVB rays. Lucky for us green beauties, the active ingredients found in all natural sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – both of which provide broad spectrum protection (to differing degrees – read about it here). Yay!
  • No Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate): Wait, what? Vitamin A is, well, a vitamin! Yea, but it can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays and actually increase your risk for skin cancer. So get your vitamin A – just not while your getting your sun.

And of course, no criteria for safe sunscreen would be complete without a little delving into the micronized and nano particles debate. So here’s a quick primer.

Micronized vs Nano Particles in Sunscreen?

The 2 active ingredients in natural sunscreens – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – are considered safe for topical use (both with a EWG rating of 2) since they sit on top of the skin to shield us from the sun’s rays. There’s no evidence of titanium dioxide penetrating into the skin. Zinc oxide, however, has been shown to penetrate the skin but the exposure is very minimal – it showed less than 0.01% skin penetration in human volunteers.

This is good news for us since we don’t want to be absorbing these minerals – except for one thing. You know how sometimes you apply sunscreen and your skin looks all white and chalky? Yea, that’s the one downside.

Which is why many sunscreen manufacturers started using nanoparticles or micronized particles. Nanoparticles are less than 100 nanometers in diameter, or 0.1 micron. Micronized particles are a little bigger – between 0.1 micron and 100 microns.

These smaller particles feel and look better on your skin, which is awesome – except these come with a potential downside as well. The main concerns with using sunscreens with smaller particles are:

  • Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles might have higher photo-reactivity than coarser particles and may promote the generation of free radicals when exposed to sunlight, thus damaging and aging your skin. This isn’t a huge concern, though, since most nanoparticles are coated with a strong substance to decrease this kind of reaction.
  • The larger concern about nanoparticles is how much of these minuscule particles can be absorbed into your skin. There is no conclusive evidence on this yet, but hey, better safe than sorry.

The above concerns mostly apply to nano-sized particles since micronized particles are bigger and less penetrating to the skin. Most natural sunscreens use micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and all the ones below meet the non-nano criterion.

Okay, so now that we’ve checked all the safe sunscreen boxes, let’s get to the best natural sunscreens to slather yourself with this summer!

Coola Cucumber Matte Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

best natural sunscreen

This is the perfect natural sunscreen for those of us with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s non-greasy, non-sticky (it’s actually matte!) and best of all – it won’t make you break out. Plus, it’s loaded with soothing, moisturizing antioxidants to treat your skin while it prevents sun damage.

It is a bit price-y, but it’s also a very rich, creamy sunscreen and a little goes a long way so a bottle of this stuff will last you awhile.

Because the zinc oxide in it is non-nano – this sunscreen can go on a bit white. There’s a simple solution, though – mix a little bit of your tinted moisturizer or foundation into it for the perfect, non-blemish-causing, sun-protection-providing facial cover!

EWG Rating: 1

Price: $36.00 per bottle

Ingredients: 3.2% Titanium Dioxide, 1.8% Zinc Oxide (Sunscreen), Aluminum Hydroxide, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Isopropyl Myristate, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Plankton Extract, Polyamide-5, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Carbonate, Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Fruit Oil, Silica Silylate, Stearalkonium Hectorite.

Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35

best natural sunscreen

Badger sunscreens probably top every “best natural sunscreen” list in the green blogosphere. And for good reason – they make super effective, safe sunscreens with really clean ingredients.

‘Though all their natural sunscreens are great – this one is our favorite, mainly for its super simple ingredients list (Just 5 ingredients! Sensitive skinned beauties rejoice!). It’s of course 100% natural, 94% certified organic and a biodegradable sunscreen as well so don’t be shy about slathering this on before exploring the reefs. It’s pretty water resistant, too.

The thing about this sunscreen, though (and all of Badger’s natural sunscreens) is that you really have to rub it in – but not too much (you don’t want to rub the protection away!). So it’s still a tiny bit white afterwards. It’s also quite sticky and will remain so for the time it stays on your body.

For this reason, I usually prefer to use Badger sunscreens on my kids  since they’re too young to care about things like vanity. Plus, it’s easier to rub the stuff onto their little bodies. That gives me the peace of mind in knowing they’re well-protected from the sun and allows me to hoard the non-greasy, albeit slightly more price-y, sunscreen for myself – at least ’til they grow up.

EWG Rating: 1

Price: $15.99

Ingredients: Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%
, *Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Oil, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E)
* = Certified Organic”

Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport

best natural sunscreen

This is probably my personal favorite. It’s very affordable – and a little goes a long way. It’s moisturizing to the point where I don’t even have to use lotion beforehand. It’s not only natural – but natural looking and it goes on quite matte and without that annoying white layer. It also gives me a nice glow while being non-greasy and non-sticky. It’s also really soft and spreadable (like butter, almost) so it’s wonderfully easy to get your body covered in a matter of minutes.

This is also a natural sunscreen you can use on your face as it’s gentle enough for sensitive and acne-prone skin – ‘though keep in mind that it’s quite rich and creamy so it’s not ideal for layering (okay with mineral makeup on top, but looks a little cakey with liquid foundation or BB cream on top). But that’s fine ’cause this sunscreen is very slightly tinted and if you only need minimal coverage – this is perfect.

The only downside to this sunscreen is the smell. It’s not terrible, it’s just not the beautifully scented stuff most of us are used to. It’s more…earthy. But hey, so are the ingredients.

EWG Rating: 1

Price: $16.00 per bottle

Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 20%, organic juices of aloe barbadensis (organic aloe juice)*, pyrus malus (organic apple juice)*, vitis vinifera (organic white grape juice)*, cocos nucifera (organic coconut oil)*, caprylic/capric triglycerides, sorbitan stearate, ricinus communis (castor seed oil), hydrogenated methyl abietate, polyglyceryl-10 laurate, magnesium sulfate, helianthus annuus (organic sunflower seed oil)*, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba seed oil)*, tocopherol (Vitamin E), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (Vitamin C), citrus limonum (lemon extract), iron oxides, phenethyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, citrus reticulata (mandarin) & citrus aurantium (petitgrain) pureessentialoils* = Certified organic ingredient

Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30

best natural sunscreen

This is a seriously rich, mucho moisturizing organic sunscreen that’s absolutely perfect for dry-skinned beauties. The ingredients list is as clean and luxurious as it gets – filled to the brim with nourishing goodies that’ll soothe and heal skin while protecting it from the sun.

This is the only sunscreen my mom currently uses – her skin’s gotten drier over the past few years and even in the summer, she has to resort to slathering on body butters. And this is about the only sunscreen that she can wear without applying moisturizer beforehand, which is saying a lot.

The downside, of course, is that it’s quite thick (‘though not as whitish!). This isn’t an awful thing, though, since it’s also quite water-resistant (they say beyond 80 minutes) so it is the sunscreen of choice if you’re planning on being in and out of the water often.

EWG Rating: 1

Price: $18.95 per bottle

Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 22.75%, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Green Tea, Organic Black Tea, Organic Coffee, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, All Natural Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, All Natural Rosemary Oil Extract, All Natural Vitamin E.
*Certified Organic Ingredients

Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

best natural sunscreen

Very effective, goes on quite clear, and definitely gentle enough for even the most sensitive, skin allergy- and irritation-prone beauties (as well as babies). The downside is that it is quite sticky-feeling and thick so while it’s great for the body – you’ll want to skip using this on your face, especially if your pores are prone to clogging.

It smells a little fruity, which can be a pro or con depending on what you’re into. It’s also fairly water resistant and perfect for active kids (reapplication is always recommended!).

EWG Rating: 1

Price: $14.34 per bottle

Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 22%, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethyhexyl Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Green Tea (Camelia Sinensis) Extract*, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Methylcellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Rose Hip (Rosa Canina) Fruit Oil*, Shea(Butyrospermun Parkii) Butter*, Sodium Benzoate, Stearic Acid, Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) Seed Oil*, Vegetable Glycerin, Water (Aqua),Xanthan Gum.
Active Ingredient: *Certified Organic Ingredients

TotLogic Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

best natural sunscreen for babies

Great for very sensitive, allergy-prone skin and gentle enough for babies, this one is a creamy sunscreen that;s easy to spread and goes on quite light. It’s also gluten free and cruelty free sunscreen.

The only downside is that it does leave you looking a bit white but with a formulation of 20% zinc oxide, that’s to be expected and worth it considering it provides solid protection.

EWG Rating: N/A

Price: $13 per bottle

Ingredients: 20% ZINC OXIDE, 80% DEIONIZED WATER, CAPRIC CAPRYLIC TRIGLYCERIDES (COCONUT OIL EXTRACT), GLYCERINE, HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, SORBITAN SESQUIOLEATE, ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE LEAF JUICE), POLYGLYCERYL-4 ISOSTEARATE, METHYL DIHYDROABIETATE, CETYL DIMETHICONE (MINERAL BASED), HEXYL LAURATE (PLANT DERIVED), SIMMONDSIA CHINESIS  (JOJOBA), HYALURONIC ACID (PLANT DERIVED), ARNICA MONTANA (ARNICA), CAMELLIA SINENSIS (WHITE TEA), CHAMOMILLA RECUTITA (CHAMOMILE FLOWER), LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFIOLA (LAVENDER), MENTHA ARVENSIS (WILD MINT), DIMETHICONE (MINERAL BASED), MAGNESIUM SULFATE, CITRUS MEDICA LIMONUM (LEMON PEEL OIL), ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN (PLANT DERIVED PRESERVATIVE), CITRUS BERGAMIA (BERGAMOT), PHENOXYETHANOL

Majestic Pure 100% Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+

best natural sunscreen

This natural sunscreen is pretty new to the market but it’s definitely worth checking out especially if your skin type leans more toward dry.

The ingredients list is pretty top notch – a great mix of solid protection providing zinc oxide and a combination of natural oils. The result is really good coverage and easy spreadability. The downside is that yes, it does leave you looking and feeling a little greasy.

That being said, if you’re looking for a deep moisturizer and broad spectrum sunscreen in one – this is it!

EWG Rating: N/A

Price: $18.95 per bottle

Ingredients: 24.7% Non-Nano Zinc Oxide,Grape Seed Oil, Organic Sunflower Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (from Coconut Oil), Organic Beeswax, Stearic Acid (from Palm Oil), Organic Honey, Sea Salt, Purified Water

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