5 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen is Best for Your Health and the Planet

Ah, that amazing feeling of sticking your toes in the sand for the first time in months!

But nothing ruins a beautiful day at the beach like an uncomfortable sunburn.

While I believe in the importance of adequate sun exposure for vitamin D production and use certain foods to protect my skin from sun damage from the inside out, long periods of direct sun exposure definitely do require sunscreen.

There are really SO MANY sunscreen options on the market nowadays, but the most important thing to consider is whether to choose a chemical sunscreen or natural mineral sunscreen.

5 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen is Best for Your Health and the Planet:

1. The active ingredients in mineral sunscreen* do not absorb into the skin

Remember how your skin is your body’s largest organ and the majority of what you apply to it gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream? Well chemical sunscreen depends on this—it works by the active ingredients absorbing into the skin where they then scatter the sun’s rays. But some of these active ingredients (such as homosalate and oxybenzone) have been linked to endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and/or developmental/reproductive toxicity.

When you choose a mineral sunscreen *made with non-nano active ingredients, however, the active ingredient does not absorb into the skin. Instead it acts as a protective layer on top of your skin, reflecting rays like a mirror.

2. Mineral sunscreen offers immediate, long-lasting protection

Because the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens need time to absorb into your skin, you need to wait for a period of time (usually 15-20 minutes) before going into the sun.

But since they act as mirrors, mineral sunscreens start working as soon as they are applied.

3. Mineral sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection

While all chemical sunscreens protect your skin from the skin-burning UVB rays, some don’t offer protection from deeper-penetrating UVA rays. UVA rays are associated with premature aging, something I’m sure we’d all like to avoid!

Mineral sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays.

4. Mineral sunscreen is less irritating to sensitive skin

Some of the active ingredients used chemical sunscreens trigger allergies and skin reactions (since they’re not natural and the skin is like “What!?“).

Since mineral sunscreens contain natural minerals as their active ingredients, they are much less likely to cause irritation. In fact, zinc oxide—one of the most popular mineral sunscreen ingredients—is actually used in natural diaper rash creams to soothe irritated little bottoms.

5. Mineral sunscreen is better for the environment

One of the most commonly used active ingredients in chemical sunscreens oxybenzone is known to kill coral reefs, which are home to 25% of all ocean life. For this reason, reefs are disappearing twice as fast as rain forests!

According to TIME:

Currently, somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enters coral reef areas around the world each year, according to the U.S. National Park Service. That’s a lot of sunscreen considering how little it takes to cause toxic effects. According to the new research, toxicity occurs at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion. That’s the equivalent of a drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool.

If we can do our part to prevent this just by switching to natural mineral sunscreen, why wouldn’t we?

Of course, not all mineral sunscreens are created equally!

You will still find some mineral sunscreens with unhealthy ingredients like artificial fragrance (an endocrine disruptor) and retinyl palmitate (which is believed to increase the rate at which cancerous cells divide when combined with sunlight).

The following sunscreens have a 1 Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database Ranking, meaning they are amongst the least toxic options on the market.

100% Pure Everywhere Sun Stick

100% Pure Everywhere Sun Stick SPF 30

Its compact size makes it perfect for throwing in your purse, car, or beach bag for those spontaneous day trips to the beach!

 100% pure argan face moisturizer SPF

100% Pure Argan Oil Facial Moisturizer SPF 30

This is my go-to sunscreen specifically for my face. It includes one of my favorite face oils and I don’t have to worry about any breakouts.

 badger baby sunscreen spf 30

Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30

Certified organic and made with skin-soothing chamomile and calendula, this is a great option for anyone with sensitive skin—not just little ones!


 badger sunscreen spf 30 unscented

Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen

This is our go-to sunscreen for long hikes and the beach. It’s great at staying put even if you get sweaty or go for a dip. It’s an especially good option for anyone who is particularly sensitive to scent, even natural essential oils.


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Share Your Thoughts

  1. Alyssa

    Hi Nadia,

    I’m looking for an everyday moisturizer with spf that I can put on every morning before my makeup. Today I use the simple brand but I’m trying to convert my products to all natural, using your help of course. The Aragon oil you suggested above is good for everyday use?

    June 23, 2016 • 9:55 pm •
  2. Katie

    This is so interesting! I knew it was better for our health but only since it was less toxic. The impact on the environment was the most shocking. It’s pretty ironic, really… we use sunblock at the beach because we love the beach yet it’s killing a major part of the oceans.

    June 23, 2016 • 11:20 pm •
  3. Yolanda

    Really informative post… I had no idea there was even a difference in sunscreens! The data about the adverse effects of chemical sunscreen ingredients on coral reefs was especially informative–and unsettling. Can I vassume from their lack of inclusion that spray-on sunscreens are all chemical? I may choose the one in stick form as the most convenient option; however, my autistic son may prefer the completely unscented version. Thanks for including it!

    June 24, 2016 • 12:44 am •
  4. Nadia

    Hi, Yolanda! Im glad you found it informative. I just pulled a few of the sunscreens with a 1 ranking to put in the post since these are actually ones that I have used or do still use. You can find all of them here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/sunscreen:+SPF+15-30/ I did a little search, and it seems that most of the spray sunscreens have at least a 3 ranking, which is not terrible but not the best. 100% Pure does have a spray sunscreen as well but it’s not in the EWG database. I’ll have to take a closer look at the ingredients and see how it looks.

    June 24, 2016 • 1:43 pm •
  5. Nadia

    You’re right, Katie – it is sadly ironic. Luckily, there is something we can do about it and it’s so simple! Just to switch over to mineral sunscreens.

    June 24, 2016 • 1:44 pm •
  6. Nadia

    Hi, Alyssa! Yes, that is exactly what I bought it for and so far so good. I always used to just use my CC cream in the AM which has SPF, but I wanted a daily SPF without color. It doesn’t make you super shiny and it blends in really well (no “white mask” like you can sometimes get with the mineral sunscreens).

    The best thing about 100% Pure is their return policy – everything is free shipping (so even return shipping if you try it and decide you don’t like it).

    June 24, 2016 • 1:52 pm •
  7. Geliah

    Love that you’re stessing this out! I’d also like to share Human Nature’s Safe Protect Sunscreen with SPF30. It smells good, not greasy, and really lasts long. It’s also safe to use on babies.

    June 26, 2016 • 8:52 pm •
  8. Emily

    Hi Nadia!

    Thank you for this beautiful article. I was informed on the harmful effects sunscreen has to our bodies, but not the harmful effects to the environment. I am grateful to have been enlightened about this.

    Skin cancer runs in my family, and before I started my path of all-natural everything, I was using a body lotion that contained sunscreen that I would use right after my showers. I would still like to wear sunblock everyday as I live in LA and want to take care of my body, and I’d like it to be combined with my daily body moisturizer. Is there a brand you recommend for this product, or would adding mineral sunscreen to my bottle of body lotion work?

    🙂 Emily

    July 16, 2016 • 6:58 pm •
  9. Lelanie

    Hi Nadia,

    I really enjoy your posts and get so excited when I receive your newsletter in my inbox.
    I have recently switched over to using face oil as a moisturizer. Which sunscreens would you suggest to use in the morning on a daily basis that would not clog pores or cause breakouts as I have oily skin.
    Regards, Lelanie (all the way from South-Africa)

    November 16, 2016 • 2:49 am •
  10. Anna Wright

    It’s always better if you can incorporate natural items into your beauty regime than using artificial ingredients. Thank you for sharing this avocado and honey face mask. Can’t wait to try it.

    December 21, 2016 • 5:31 am •