The 10 Best Mineral Sunscreens of 2021

These eco-friendly sunscreens are safe and effective.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
Gentle enough for babies and coral reefs but strong enough to protect the whole family.
Top-rated for safety with moisturizers that won’t irritate delicate skin or clog pores.
This sunscreen has many plant-based ingredients, fresh citrus scent, and a non-greasy application.
A cruelty-free, reef-safe three-in-one that protects, moisturizes and adds a touch of glow.
Just seven organic, mild ingredients that will keep your little ones safe and soothed.
Effective and safe sunscreen from a pioneering company you can feel good about supporting.
Parents love that this portable stick is fragrance- and allergy-free and easy to apply.
Dermatologist recommended, oil-free, and lightweight sun protection at a drugstore price.
Unique, organic, vegan ingredients offer worry-free protection and oil-free moisture.
Affordable, daily, year-round moisturizing SPF for your lips that’s cruelty-free and environmentally responsible.

There are a number of factors to consider when trying to choose the right sunscreen. You’ll want a product that is not only effective against harmful UVA and UVB radiation but also free of chemicals that are harmful to our environment or raise health concerns. Many experts suggest avoiding chemical sunscreens, and to pick a mineral sunscreen instead.

“Recent evidence shows that chemical sunscreen can get absorbed into our bloodstream," explains Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson of Modern Dermatology of Connecticut. "While we don’t know if this is harmful, we can avoid the issue by using mineral-based products. Mineral or physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and work as a mirror and reflect the UV rays off the surface of our skin."

To make our recommendations, we looked for cruelty-free products that are safe for the environment, human health, and also provide proven protection from the sun's rays.

Here are the best mineral sunscreens:

Best Overall: Two Peas Organics Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Two Peas Organics Mineral Sunscreen

To earn the Best Overall spot, a sunscreen must be affordable, effective, and well-rated regarding performance, feel, and environmental safety. Two Peas Organics Unscented Mineral Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 30 hits all these marks and then some.

This non-nano zinc-oxide-based sunscreen is made with organic coconut and jojoba oil, shea butter, Vitamin E, and just four other Certified Organic biodegradable ingredients that will leave your skin nourished and protected. Its mild formula earned an Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating of 1 because it’s both coral-reef safe and gentle enough for the whole family including babies. It's Leaping Bunny certified and never tested on animals.

It does take a little more work to rub this sunscreen in fully, but a single application is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This formula goes on thick but dries quickly without leaving a greasy feel. If you need more sun protection, Two Peas is also available in SPF 50 with 25% zinc oxide instead of 20%.

"This sunblock has a thick texture coming out of the tube, so I like to squeeze it onto the back of my hand and rub it around a bit before applying it elsewhere. Since using it, I haven't gotten a single sunburn and haven't gotten any breakouts if I wash my face at the end of the day." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Senior Editor
Application Frequency

A good rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every two hours in dry conditions. Water- and sweat resistance vary by product ingredients and SPF, so check the individual label for reapplication frequency.

Best for Face: Attitude Mineral Face Stick

Attitude Mineral Face Stick

Some of us need a different sunscreen for our face than for the rest of our bodies. A sunscreen that works just fine on your arms and legs might cause your face to break out immediately or a few days down the road. If this sounds like you, then you may want to consider a sunscreen made specifically for faces. Many brands offer a “noncomedogenic” variation, which is just a fancy way of saying that it’s formulated not to cause blocked pores.

Attitude Natural Care 100% Mineral Face Stick, SPF 30 is a great option. It is one of only a handful of facial sunscreens that are EWG “Verified”—a rating that’s better than EWG “1” because it is free of all of EWG’s chemicals of concern and meets their strictest health standards. Its vegan and PETA cruelty-free ingredients include 20% zinc oxide for sun protection and olive oil, shea and cocoa butter to keep your skin hydrated without scents, dyes, or perfumes. In addition, its Ecologo Certification means it is biodegradable, reef-safe, and that its manufacturer uses sustainable practices across all of its products.

Each application of this convenient on-the-go-sized stick lasts 40 minutes while swimming or sweating and at least 2 hours under most other conditions. It is also approved for both the face and the lips.

Best for Body: BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF30

When choosing an all-purpose sunscreen for your body, effectiveness, and feel are among the most important features to consider. Zinc-oxide-based BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion in SPF30 goes on smooth, absorbs well without a white residue, and doesn’t feel greasy afterward. Many people also use it for their face and had no problems applying makeup over it.

Countersun should hold up for 40 minutes in sweat or water conditions, and it’s safe for children over six months old. Earning an EWG rating of 2, you’ll find reef-friendly ingredients that include California poppy, beeswax, aloe vera, extracts of mimosa bark and citrus, and oils of peppermint, citrus, lemon, and orange peel. Note that beeswax is an ingredient vegans may want to avoid. Citrus can cause an EWG rating to be lower because it is an allergen for some, but those who are not allergic may appreciate its fresh natural scent.

Best Tinted: Raw Elements Tinted Daily Face Moisturizer SPF 30

Raw Elements Tinted Daily Face Moisturizer SPF 30

Almost every dermatologist and aesthetician will recommend that you wear a daily moisturizer and a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun to prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging. In response, there are many, many brands that offer a moisturizer/sunscreen combo. Most of those brands take it one step further, offering a three-in-one tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. The tint helps counter any lightening or oiliness caused by the sunscreen. But not all brands get the combination right, balancing moisture, shininess, and blending naturally with skin tone.

When applied correctly, Raw Elements Tinted Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 30 mineral sunscreen makes it easy for you to work sun protection into your daily skincare routine. It feels thicker upon application compared to typical moisturizer or sunscreens, but when spread evenly and allowed to rest before applying any makeup, you have a protective glow that lasts all day or that is sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

You’ll feel safe wearing this every day because it's 95% organic ingredients are free from synthetic chemicals and allergens that are also reef-safe, biodegradable, and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free. This combination of ingredients earns a top rating from EWG of 1. Because this mild, antioxidant-filled formula is free from potentially harmful preservatives, buy only what you’ll use in a year or less.

Raw Elements also has an excellent environmental track record. The company co-founded World Reef Day, which falls on June 1 each year to raise awareness for the protection of coral reefs and our oceans. An added bonus is that it’s sold in a 75% plastic-free recyclable aluminum-based container.

Best for Babies: Badger Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Badger Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

When protecting your baby’s delicate skin, you want a gentle formula with powerful sunblock. We love Badger Baby Active Sunscreen Cream with Chamomile and Calendula in SPF 30 because it contains just seven reef-friendly, biodegradable, and certified cruelty-free ingredients including non-nano zinc oxide. Their formula is 98% organic and certified Non-GMO by the nonprofit watchdog NSF International’s NSF Non-GMO True North project.

Chamomile doesn’t just help you sleep. It also possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects while being safe for sensitive skin. Calendula, an ancient herbal medicinal plant with antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties has traditionally and recently been used to heal wounds and soothe eczema and diaper rash and as an antiseptic.

Badger Baby’s organic sunflower oil base is pediatrician-tested and easy to apply. Its mellow, eco-friendly ingredients have earned it an EWG rating of 1. It should be water- and sweat-resistant for up to 40 minutes. You may like this sunscreen so much, the whole family will want to use it too.

Best for Kids: Thinksport Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

Thinksport Kids Sunscreen Stick

For kids on the go, you’ll want something portable, affordable, safe, and easy to apply. Thinksport Face and Body Sunscreen Stick for Kids in SPF 30 up in water, sweat, and dirt too. Safe for children six months and up, the easy-to-apply stick allows parents to skip the greasy liquid smear process that some kids won’t stand still for.

This sunscreen also has the highest level of water resistance allowable by the FDA, lasting 80 minutes in sweat or swimming conditions. With an EWG rating of 1 and just 11 simple ingredients, you can apply this formula worry-free.

Thinksport’s résumé is pretty impressive too. It's a member of the Safe Cosmetics Campaign Compact, makes its products in the United States, has Leaping Bunny certification, and donates to a long list of good causes. The company has even ended business relationships with companies whose CEOs were big-game hunters. That’s dedication.

Best for Sensitive Skin: California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

If you have sensitive skin, you understand how easily even the simplest product can cause irritation. That’s why one California mom developed California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Stick in SPF 30+.

Parents love that the portable stick is fragrance- and allergy-free and easy to apply. Titanium dioxide-based (17%) Super Sensitive Sunscreen Stick earns an EWG score of 1 because it contains just seven mild, plant-based and reef-safe ingredients.

Because there are no added chemical ingredients to soften it, some users report that this stick can be a little firm when cold due to its wax-based ingredients. But that issue can be solved by warming the stick in your palm or the sun before application. Titanium dioxide also tends to leave more of a white residue appearance than zinc oxide, but that also helps you see gaps in coverage during application.

This women-owned and family-operated business has an FDA-Certified Organic farm where some of the key ingredients are grown. The facility also gets more than 75% of its energy from solar power. That means this product has a reduced carbon footprint by using locally sourced ingredients and green power while also ensuring greater quality control compared to some other brands. California Baby also founded a nonprofit, Natural Advisory Council, dedicated to advocating for consumer protection legislation for natural products.

Be Sun Smart

In addition to using sunscreen, we can make conscious choices that help reduce our sun exposure. For example, UV rays are strongest mid-day, during spring and summer, at higher elevations and increase as we get closer to the equator. Beware of reflective surfaces like water, snow, and even sand that can compound sun exposure, causing burns in areas normally protected by shade like the bottoms of your feet while boating. Finally, don’t be mislead by grey skies: UV rays penetrate many types of clouds. On a cloudy day, you may get sunburn without ever actually seeing the sun.

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Affordable, widely available, and easy to pick up with your usual groceries, Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Mineral Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 30 is among the brands most recommended by dermatologists. “Dry-Touch'' means this lightweight zinc-oxide-based sunscreen is oil-free, non-comedogenic, and won’t feel sticky or clump your makeup. It’s also free of allergens, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and dyes.

Mild on sensitive skin, this drugstore brand earned the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance and an EWG rating of 2. Safe to use every day, it lasts through 80 minutes of swimming or sweating. Unlike many drugstore brands, you may not remember you’re wearing it because it feels light and non-greasy.

Best for Oily Skin: Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF 30

Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF 30

Oily skin results from the overproduction of sebum from our sebaceous glands located just under the skin’s surface. Genetics, hormone changes, stress, and diet can all contribute to this overproduction. For many with this skin type, applying sunscreen seems like a no-no, but choosing the right sun protection is more important than ever.

Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer in SPF 30 is a wonderful combination of zinc oxide sun protection and oil-free moisturizing. Its unique combination of Certified Organic vegan ingredients earns an EWG score of 1. The formula includes antioxidant-rich grape and pomegranate juice, healing aloe vera, vitamins E and B5, cucumber, and nutrient-rich sea algae. Cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny Certified, you’ll feel safe using this lightweight moisture-rich sunscreen every day on any skin type.

Best for Lips: Burt's Bees All-Weather Moisturizing Lip Balm SPF 15

Burt's Bees All Weather Lip Balm

When you’re out being active, it’s easy to forget the delicate skin of bare lips — and much harder to notice when they’re getting sunburned — even in snow conditions. A long-lasting, moisturizing lip balm with sunscreen of at least SPF 15 is ideal for both outdoor adventures and general daily protection.

Burt’s Bees All-Weather Moisturizing Lip Balm in SPF 15 earns an EWG score of 2 for its mostly plant-based ingredients. Their water-resistant beeswax and orange peel wax locks in the moisture delivered by olive, meadowfoam, soybean, and jojoba seed oils, along with cocoa seed and shea butter. The 11% zinc oxide offers protection and a matte finish without a white residue. Water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, you can use this gentle lip balm every day all year round.

You’ll also feel good about Burt’s Bees ethics. The company sources its ingredients responsibly by protecting and nurturing the workers and communities that grow them, and by participating in the Global Shea Alliance, Responsible Mica Initiative, Sedex, and AIM-Progress.

Final Verdict

To fully and affordably protect you and your family, we love Two Peas Organics Unscented Mineral Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 30 (view at Amazon) for your face and body and even babies and children. Don’t forget your lips either with effective and environmentally responsible Burt’s Bees All-Weather Moisturizing Lip Balm in SPF 15 (view at Amazon).

FAQs

Why are mineral sunscreens safer than chemical (non-mineral) sunscreens? 

Chemical sunscreens make up a large portion of the products you’ll find in stores and many contain concerning chemicals you may want to avoid. 

These chemicals include oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate, which studies have found absorb into the bloodstream, and oxybenzone and octinoxate have also been found in breast milk. All three common sunscreen chemicals are associated with concerning hormone effects.

In comparison, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, common ingredients in mineral sunscreens, have low penetration of the skin’s barrier and are not associated with hormone disruption. 

What’s the difference between UVA & UVB? 

Although sunlight is made up of many different kinds of light, our skin is most susceptible to the powerful ultraviolet (UV) waves that make up a small portion of sunlight. About 95% of the UV rays from the sun that reach the ground are type UVA and only 5% are type UVB.

These types differ in wavelength and energy. UVA rays are the main cause of the aging in cells that leads to wrinkles and some types of skin cancer. UVB rays can directly damage the DNA in skin cells and therefore are considered the main cause of skin cancers, but they are also responsible for sunburns. You'll want a sunscreen that offers protection from both.

Are mineral sunscreens bad for coral reefs?

Nano-titanium dioxide, nano-zinc oxide, and many chemical-based sunscreens are considered harmful to coral reefs and marine life, according to the National Ocean Service. Although nanoparticles in sunscreens are considered safe for humans, they may harm reef ecosystems.

Research has shown that when some of the common sunscreen chemicals wash off our skin and into our waterways, even small amounts can cause significant harm to aquatic organisms including our delicate and declining coral reefs. For this reason, it’s important to choose mineral-based sunscreen (not chemical-based) that has been rated “reef-safe” or biodegradable.

However, because there's no legal definition of "reef-safe," some non-mineral sunscreens use this label inappropriately and have only removed one or two of many chemicals that may damage reefs.

Why Trust Treehugger?

To help you make healthy choices for your skin and our coral reefs, we’ve developed this list of the top-rated mineral sunscreens on the market today. Each has earned a top rating of 1 or 2 from EWG for the human and environmental safety of its ingredients. We also consulted a doctor and guidelines from NOAA. We prioritized products with trusted certifications that ensure products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free.

The EPA is currently conducting a major scientific review of the impacts of sunscreen ingredients on the environment. We will update this list with those findings when they become available.

Author Lorraine Wilde has used mineral sunscreens in a variety of environments over the last 30 years, from river rafting in Utah and Arizona to kayaking in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada to gardening all year round. She has only the highest standards for what goes on her family’s skin and into our delicate water bodies.

Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and is a firm believer that consumers can make informed and environmentally conscious choices to protect their families and our planet.

Micaela English also contributed reporting to this article.

View Article Sources
  1. Matta MK, Florian J, Zusterzeel R, et al. “Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA, vol. 323, no. 3, 2020, p. 256., doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20747

  2. Matta, Murali, et al. "Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients." JAMA, vol. 323, no. 3, 2020, pp. 256-267., doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20747

  3. "The Trouble with Ingredients in Sunscreens." Environmental Working Group.

  4. Nanoparticles in Sunscreens.Environmental Working Group.

  5. "Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs." National Ocean Service.