5 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen is Best for Your Health & The Planet
Natural Beauty Sun Protection
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.
Here are 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. This is why non-nano zinc oxide is considered the gold standard of natural, mineral-based sun protection!
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
If you’re wondering “Is mineral sunscreen as effective?” not only is the answer YES! but actually EVEN MORE!
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.
In May of 2018, Hawaii actually passed a bill to ban the sale of all sunscreens with this ingredient in order to protect the reefs! (source) In February of 2019, Key West followed suit. (source)
If we can do our part to prevent this just by switching to natural mineral sunscreen, why wouldn’t we?
So let’s review… Is mineral sunscreen better than chemical?
Absolutely… hands down…
Now the question is: which mineral sunscreen is best?
Of course, not all mineral sunscreens are created equally!
You’ll 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 mineral sunblocks have a 1 Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database Ranking, meaning they are amongst the least toxic options on the market.
BEAUTYCOUNTER COUNTERSUN MINERAL SUNSCREEN MIST
It sprays on white which helps ensure you’re not missing any spots, but with a little rub quickly sinks into skin without leaving any whiteness. None. At all. AND it’s made with non-nano zinc oxide. Yes: perfection!
In case you’re concerned about the spray mechanism: it uses a non-aerosol, bag-on-valve actuator system. So it’s actually air-powered. So there are no potentially harmful — for you or the environment — propellant chemicals used at all!
The formula also contains a good dose of antioxidants to help further protect the skin from UV damage since antioxidants neutralize free-radicals, and UV exposure creates free-radicals in the skin.
BEAUTYCOUNTER COUNTERSUN MINERAL SUNSCREEN LOTION
If you prefer a classic lotion over a spray, the Countersun mineral lotion is the way to go.
Like its mist counterpart, the formula is made with non-nano zinc oxide yet quickly disappears into the skin — leaving no white whatsoever! It also includes antioxidants to further protect skin and leaves skin feeling hydrated and dewy, but not sticky or heavy.
Again, all around perfection!
THINKSPORT SUNSCREEN SPF 50+
A budget-friendly option with a high-level of protection that’s easy to rub in.
Again, this formula is made with non-nano zinc oxide, doesn’t contain any other unhealthy ingredients, and it rubs into skin very easily without leaving a white residue. It also smells delicious!
THINKSPORT EVERYDAY FACE TINTED SPF 30
Provides great protection, has a super clean ingredient list, and doesn’t leave skin looking white thanks to a slight tint. In fact, I actually love how this makes my skin look and feel: really dewy, moisturized, and glowy.
I don’t mind that it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles because I apply it on top of a vitamin C serum, which gives my skin those other goodies.
MYCHELLE REPLENISHING SOLAR DEFENSE ANTI-AGING SPF 30
In addition to protecting skin with zinc oxide, it also provides skin with anti-aging goodies like red algae extract, kukui oil, and macadamia nut oil.
SUNTEGRITY NATURAL MOISTURIZING FACE SUNSCREEN AND PRIMER SPF 30
Since it’s actually a primer, this is a fantastic option if you’re going to be wearing makeup over your sunscreen. It’s not tinted and provides a nice matte finish with a good dose of moisture.
It also protects skin with non-nano zinc oxide and contains other skin-loving goodies like plumping hyaluronic acid and the powerhouse antioxidant astaxanthin.
Do you know of any face powders with spf and clean ingredients?
Thanks for the recommendations! I use both of the Think brand sunscreens and would like to point out that, if your skin isn’t pale/light, they do still leave a white film that is hard to fully rub in. I still use them, however, because I’d rather have a white film than chemicals on my skin!
Sorry for the belated reply but thank you so much! That is so nice to hear 🙂
I would like you to recommend the best oil for sunburn and brightening oil.i suffer easily from sunburn.please help me out
I see that the argan oil facial moisturizer is now discontinued. Do you have an alternative to a good facial moisturizer that has SPF in it?
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.
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)
Can you please make a DIY homemade wet wipes (for the tush)? :’) That would be such a money saver for a lot of us.
Or a DIY moisturizing shampoo & conditioner? Or both?!
I trust your blog entirely. I no longer use pads, tampons, Dove deodorant, & Neutrogena make-up wipes because of you. I also no longer buy moisturizer from the store. I simply use jojoba oil like you!
I’ve learned so much from your blog this summer. I only wish I would’ve discovered it sooner.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?