If you’re wondering what the hell to buy when it comes to a safer sunscreen for you + your family… you are not alone!
Each year, more + more natural sunscreens are hitting store shelves (yay!), giving us better + better options! But… this can make it all the more confusing, especially if you don’t know how to read your sunscreen labels or which sunscreen ingredients can actually be toxic. Luckily, I’ve done most of the homework for you + created this little list below!
What to expect from a natural sunscreen
While these may not be the most convenient, or the most glamorous – they’re the best options on the market, in terms of your health.
Most natural sunscreens contain one of the following the Active Ingredients: either Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide – or a combo of both! These physical sunscreens often use heavy carrier oils to resist being washed off + come in the form of a creamy, white, opaque lotion. Due to the nature of the ingredients, which vary by brand – these can also sometimes be a little greasy or draggy. On the bright side though, some of the newer ones that contain Zinc Oxide only, can tend to have a little less of a white-ish cast to them + blend really well.
Most of the natural sunscreens out there are naturally unscented + to my surprise – I didn’t like the smell of a lot of them. I’m not sure why, but quite a few smelled more like strong (or even rancid) cooking oils you’d keep in your kitchen cabinets (which isn’t a bad thing, since they’re edible!) opposed to the dreamy vacation I was wishing for. Just to be sure, I did check the expiration dates + some of them were even just made. I guess I was expecting more of a cocnutty, beachy smell since so many of them contained such exotic ingredients – like coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, coffee bean + green tea, etc. So just a head’s up!
What to look for on the label
coconut shell, make sure your sunscreen…
- Offers Broad Spectrum Protection
- Contains Uncoated, Non-Nano, Mineral-Based Active Ingredients
- Has Natural, Plant-Based Inactive Ingredients
- Is Reef-safe
Top 20 Super-Safe Sunscreen Recommendations
Since I don’t live on a tropical island where I can sunbathe + sip on organic pina coladas 24-7 – 365 (just yet), I haven’t had a chance to try every single one on this list. So, I’m recommending most of these, purely based upon ingredients.
While I’d love to post the ingredients like I have in the past – there were way too many sunscreens this year + the guide would be forever long! So, as always, pretty please double-check the ingredients before purchasing as they may change from year to year!
Here’s the 2014 Sunscreen “it” list, in no particular order…
- Badger Balm – A green beauty cult fave + the best as far as ingredients go. Their lotions are fab, but are currently out of stock until early 2015. Their creams are available + also amazing, but can leave a a bit of a greasy, white cast that can be difficult to blend. Out of the creams, I’ve only tried the Unscented SPF 30 Sunscreen + wasn’t crazy about the scent. I’d definitely get one of the scented ones next time.
- True Natural – One of my faves out of the bunch + my usual go-to when I’m not using Badger! Love the coconutty scent + blendability.
- Raw Elements USA – Great ingredients, but I wasn’t crazy about the smell. Cream is thick + smooth, blends well, but leaves a whitish cast. They also have a tinted stick version that was a little on the hard side, but I think it’s made that way so it doesn’t melt in the sun. I couldn’t warm it up enough to apply it though.
- Annmarie Gianni – Tinted facial sunscreen with amazing ingredients, that blends like silk + smells like cocoa! But, I’m disappointed that it has no spf rating (read their thoughts on that here) + that the price is insanely expensive for a sunscreen.
- Goddess Garden – (Sunscreens only). Another one of my fave brands! Have only tried the SPF 30 Sunny Face Lotion + the SPF 30 Sunny Body Spray. Both go on pretty clear + blend well, with a non-greasy feel – so I think you’d be able to wear them under makeup. And, although it was unscented, I wasn’t a fan of the smell. One thing I need to mention though is that I don’t normally recommend sunscreen sprays due to inhalation risks. But, if you really had to use one – this one would be it!
- Pratima – haven’t tried this brand yet, but have heard amazing reviews.
- DeVita – I’ve tried both the Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ + the Solar Body Moisturizer. They are both light-weight, go on clear + blend well, with a non-greasy feel. Seems similar to Goddess Garden Organics. Perfect for under makeup. Scent wasn’t great, but better than most.
- 100% Pure – (Pomegranate Antioxidant Hydration SPF 20 + SPF 30 Sun Stick only). I’ve tried both which blend well, but leave a hint of white behind. I haven’t tried them under makeup, but it seems like they would probably give you a little drag. The lotion is on the liquidy side + the stick is on the softer side. Wasn’t crazy about the scent.
- Dolphin Organics – Haven’t tried yet.
- Poofy Organics – Impeccable ingredients + another one of my faves! I love that everything’s certified organic except the minerals (which can’t be). I’ve only tried the lotion, which is similar to Badger – but it’s a little lighter + has better blendability.
- Mexitan – (Sunscreen Sticks, Lotions + Oils only). Another great brand with super-simple ingredients! I’ve only tried their SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion + their Dark Tanning Oil (which has no SPF at all!) + loved both! They have a nice beachy scent. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was that the lotion had little white mineral specks every now + then that didn’t blend in (no bigggie though) + the oil contains lanolin.
- Purple Prairie Botanicals – (Sun Stick + Sun Stuff Lip Balm only). Haven’t tried this brand yet.
- Babo Botanicals – (Sport Stick only). Haven’t tried this brand yet.
- Miessence – Haven’t tried it yet.
- Mercola – Haven’t tried this brand yet, but it seems similar to Mexitan.
- Elemental Herbs – (Sun Sticks only). Haven’t tried this brand yet.
- Mambino Organics – Haven’t tried this brand yet.
- Ava Anderson Non-Toxic – (Sunscreens + Sun Sticks only). Haven’t tried this brand yet.
- California Baby – (Sunscreen Sticks only). Haven’t tried it yet.
- Soleo Organics – Haven’t tried this brand yet.
*Please note that if it says “only” after the brand name, only those particular products are recommended. If it doesn’t say anything, all sunscreen products for that brand are A-ok!
For more info on Sun Safety, check out the EWG’s Guides here. You can also check out The GG’s guides from 2012 + 2013 here! Keep in mind, there’s no sunscreen that compares to the shade of a palm tree, a sassy, wide-brimmed hat, UV sunglasses or tightly-woven clothing.
Have you ever tried any of these sunscreens? What did you think? Are there any that should be on here that didn’t make the list?