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The Best Mineral Sunscreens for Safe Sun Protection

Mineral sunscreens offer safe everyday protection from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.

mineral sunscreens

There are two options for sunscreen protection: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens have come under fire regarding the safety levels of their ingredients, so more information is needed by the FDA to confirm their safety. A study published in May 2019 by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that blood absorption of the sunscreen chemicals avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule exceeded FDA safety levels after just one day of use.

The study measured the use of chemical sunscreen applied four times a day over 75% of the body for four days. The sunscreens used in the study were in spray, lotion and cream formulas. The FDA was quick to point out that these chemicals are not necessarily unsafe, but more information is needed to determine if they pose any health risks.

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UVA and UVB Rays

Harmful UVA and UVB rays found in sunlight can lead to mutations in genes and the development of skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis than UVB rays and are responsible for photoaging, i.e. the dreaded wrinkle. In addition, UVA rays can damage skin cells in the epidermis where most skin cancers originate.

While UVB rays cannot penetrate glass, these rays are responsible for sunburns by penetrating into the top skin layer or epidermis and overexposure can lead to the development of skin cancer. These are sobering facts, especially since I have loved a tan since I was young. Does anyone else remember slathering yourself in baby oil? The idea of this now horrifies me!


SPF, sun protection factor, measures how effectively a sunscreen protects against UVB rays. The amount of time it would take your skin type to burn times the SPF number would indicate how long the sunscreen would last before needing reapplication. Of course, this is in a controlled environment. For instance, if you are swimming in a pool or sweating, reapplication may be needed much sooner.

Sunscreen Application

Whether you choose a chemical or mineral sunscreen, you should apply your sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine before applying makeup. It is important to note that while many products including foundation may include SPF, it is not enough on its own as we would need to apply 1/4 teaspoon of foundation to your face and neck to be adequately protected from the sun.

The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. But what type of sunscreen should you use? There are many different varieties of sunscreen available today and it can get confusing. Two general categories of sunscreen are chemical or mineral (which may also be called physical sunscreen).

Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens are considered organic, containing carbon and contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. They work by absorbing the sun’s UV rays. Chemical sunscreens tend to be lighter and may work well under makeup but may irritate sensitive skin.

Mineral (physical) sunscreens are considered inorganic and contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and deflect the sun’s rays. A common complaint related to many mineral sunscreens is that they can leave a white cast on the skin, especially on darker skin tones.

Why Mineral Sunscreen?

I choose to use mineral sunscreens because they are considered safe and because they do not irritate my skin. I am sensitive to chemical sunscreen, so I have battled for years with skin breakouts, irritation and redness while trying to protect my skin from the sun.

Enter today’s mineral sunscreens. Oh, how they’ve improved! No more white line down your nose unless you want one! I have fair and sensitive skin, so mineral sunscreen is a natural fit for my skin. I’ve found that there are some great mineral options that range from budget to pricey, each with its own benefits.

Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Lotion

Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Lotion

Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Lotion blends easily and leaves no trace of color behind. It is water-resistant for 80 minutes and contains 4% Zinc Oxide and 4% Titanium Dioxide.

Related: Drugstore Anti-Aging Skincare Routine

La Roche-Posay ANTHELIOS 50 MINERAL Ultra-Light Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay ANTHELIOS 50 MINERAL Ultra-Light Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay ANTHELIOS 50 MINERAL Ultra-Light Sunscreen offers a matte finish and is water-resistant for 40 minutes. Great for sensitive skin, it is made with Cell-OX Shield technology which contains broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection plus antioxidants.

It contains 6% Titanium Dioxide and 5% Zinc Oxide. It takes some effort to work this sunscreen fluid into my skin so that it won’t leave a white cast. But once fully absorbed, the white cast disappears.

Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++

Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++

I heard great things about Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++. The PA rating system was developed in Japan to let users know how a product protects from UVA rays. While exact amounts of Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide are not noted on the bottle, PA+++ denotes high sun protection, second only to PA++++.

It contains 20 kinds of vegetable-based ingredients including dwarf ground sedge extract, portulaca oleracea extract, acai berry, and acerola. It also includes aloe vera, cactus, & hyaluronic acid for hydration. This white lotion sinks in quickly and surprisingly does not leave a white cast.

Paula’s Choice-RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30

Paula’s Choice-RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30

I have been loving Paula’s Choice-RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 for over a year. Not only does this tinted 13% Zinc Oxide sunscreen sink in quickly without leaving any trace of color on my face, but it also comes packed with antioxidants and resveratrol to help target the signs of aging.

It even pulls double duty by acting as a primer for makeup. The formula is thin enough so that it doesn’t interfere with your foundation. This is not a water-resistant sunscreen. Keep in mind that the tint is light in this sunscreen, so it may work better with lighter skin tones.

Eminence Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30 Powder

Eminence Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30 Powder

A nice option for touch-ups over makeup is Eminence Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30 Powder. (I use No.1 Honey Apple). This tinted powder is water-resistant for 40 minutes and SPF 30. I love that this helps reduce shine and protect my skin from those harmful UV rays. This organic sunscreen contains Micronized Zinc Oxide.

Bare Republic Mineral Sport SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

Bare Republic Mineral Sport SPF 50 Sunscreen

For your body, Bare Republic Mineral Sport SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion provides 80 minutes of water-resistant protection. The 5 oz tube contains 5.6% Titanium Dioxide and 3.7% Zinc Oxide. It contains moisturizing kukui seed oil and beeswax to help retain moisture but is not too heavy on the skin. It has a coconut-vanilla scent, which I love but may be a concern for those who are sensitive to scent.

Due to the current safety concerns regarding chemical sunscreens and my sensitive skin, I choose to use mineral sunscreens. Whether you choose a chemical sunscreen, a mineral sunscreen, or a combination of both, wearing sunscreen is crucial for protecting your skin health.

It’s an easy step that can be incorporated into your skincare regimen. With today’s sunscreens, you will find that they can be multi-taskers that not only protect your skin but also work to improve your skin health.

Thanks for reading!

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