“Why are you putting that on your face?” the 2-year-old asks as I apply a little cover-up to a blemish one morning.
“To hide this little ugly thing,” I answer with an eye roll.
Then as I brush on liquid eyeliner, I hear, “Does that hurt? Is it pokey?”
“No honey, it’s a brush, it’s ok.”
“But why are you doing that?” he persists.
“Because ladies do lots of crazy things!”
Sometimes you just have to end the conversation.
But I want to continue the conversation with the ladies who ask about nice sunscreens for faces, for daily use. A daily SPF moisturizer may be one of the less crazy things we women do.
The question that inspired this post:
Do you have any face product suggestions that are a good moisturizer?
I’m an avid sun protector (everything in moderation) but I’m almost 54 and am usually diligent on keeping my face, neck and chest protected. But I still worry about the chemicals.
My face literally burns and stings if I were to use a “commercial” sunscreen. We have bought several natural brands and they ate sticky, gumpy and horrible to put on. Thanks for your awesome work on this!
On the other natural sunscreen review I emphasized water resistance heavily and good options for active children. But people ask about daily moisturizers/facial sunscreens all the time, and it’s a really important question.
If putting potentially hormone-disrupting, carcinogenic sunscreens on one’s body during the summer months for outside use is to be avoided (and it IS!), how much more so should we take caution with what we put on our faces every single day, 365 days a year?
Is There a Safe Daily Moisturizing Lotion with SPF?
Here’s the thing: do you want something marketed as a moisturizer by a company that’s going to throw in a few chemicals so it says “SPF 15” on the bottle, or a sunscreen that naturally moisturizes because high-quality, non-comedogenic oils make a great sunscreen base?
When looking for a daily facial moisturizer that will protect you from the sun, start with sunscreens and get the moisturizing for free. 😉
We’ve tested over 100 sunscreens so far, and there are a few that are just obviously a great fit for women’s faces.
I’ve listed them more or less in order of how perfect they seem – note that some options are tinted and some aren’t, and that may make a huge difference depending on whether you’re looking for a liquid foundation with SPF protection or just a facial SPF moisturizing lotion. (UPDATED 2018!)
Note: As a Caucasian woman I definitely speak from a white person’s perspective! For women of color looking for a daily moisturizer, I would guess skipping the tints (except maybe the darkest at Kabana) and going with a rubs-on-clear version would be best.
I had the opportunity to try Annmarie Skincare’s sunscreen near the end of the summer 2018. I know the company has a deep commitment to quality ingredients, no synthetics, because I met the owner and her husband. They are very genuine people and were frustrated that Hint sunscreen, with 100% chemical actives, was being spotlighted at a supposedly natural health conference we were both at. The company’s mission is to help you obtain and keep beautiful skin, and it’s very pricey so this is definitely not a sunscreen to buy to slather all over the whole family. But as a facial sunscreen, it has just vaulted itself into my absolute top spot. This tinted lotion goes on so light, it’s like no other tinted formula I’ve tried!! Honest. Wild. Beautiful. It smells lovely, a bit earthy and herbally, and while it provides great coverage, you can hardly see it. It goes on so smoothly! While you are ordering, grab the facial wash too – the peppermint scent is such a happy pick-me-up. 🙂
On the initial review I felt badly about putting DeVita so far down in the pack, BUT we got it right at the end of a summer and it didn’t get a lot of facetime, literally. BUT that’s the point.
I’m unwilling to put a sunscreen on my kids for long days at the pool that isn’t supposed to be water resistant, so we didn’t use it much.
But the glide-on feel is lovely.
It’s a moisturizer, intended for facial use I would think. That’s why they used micronized zinc oxide, to go on clear. Micronized is NOT nano-sized and most research says it’s perfectly safe, doesn’t absorb through the skin, still protects from UVA and UVB rays (although slightly differently because the size of the particles affects zinc’s interaction with the sun’s rays).
If you’re looking for a daily facial moisturizer with SPF, then I think DeVita would be a great choice, and I’d buy the larger size because the savings are immense!
Avasol tinted sticks rub in very nicely, although keep in mind that because it is a stick it starts out much thicker than what you’re used to in a cream. They offer multiple tints so that lighter or darker skin tones can find something that fits, and as long as you get the right shade, it practically disappears on the face.
I think the scent is just heavenly. It’s very unique, and I’m not even sure how to explain it. It’s not fruity… It’s not coconutty… I guess we’re going to go with fresh and spicy, but nothing like Old Spice deodorant for example. I really like it a lot but it’s possible it’s not for everyone (I love cinnamon so that probably helps!).
The company features super eco-friendly packaging (even how they mailed the product!), near-perfect ingredients, and a fancy-dancy scent that must just be “my thing,” excellent ingredients and shades that look great on me.
Kabana was the only natural mineral sunscreen brand I’d ever seen that offers different shades in the tinted versions. In fact, more and more brands are coming out with tints, but they rarely give options. Kabana has:
Something for everyone!
I’ve used Kabana’s tinted creams before as a sort of foundation, which is what I imagine would be mighty handy for women who want a daily moisturizer – why not apply your foundation at the same time and have a two-fer!
You have to be ready for the shine, though. These creams are very shiny on the face, but a dusting of powder fixes that right up.
Kabana, formulated by a biochemist, has been a top recommendation since 2010 when I first started reviewing sunscreens. I don’t see it leaving the pack anytime soon.
In my opinion, it’s worth a try as a daily moisturizer!
Raw Elements Tinted Tin
We’ve had Raw Elements as one of our favorites for a couple years, and they’ve been adding to their line quite a bit recently and moving away from plastics as much as possible.
A new product is a tinted cream packaged in a metal tin, a huge difference in application from the tinted stick that we already loved.
The stick is great for a quick, non-ghosty application on the face for adults, but I’m not sure I’d use it as a daily moisturizer or foundation.
To get your SPF and moisturizing qualities evenly applied, the cream is second to none.
The shade of the tint may be a bit dark for fair-skinned people, but it does a decent job on many skin tones.
It’s definitely moisturizing; my only concern is whether it’s a bit too heavy for a daily use. It’s perfect for a summer foundation though!
This simple, unsuspecting tube of sunscreen has got to be one of the best ever for rubbing in a clear, and quickly at that. It reminds me of a normal moisturizing lotion, and it’s made by a company that does a lot with natural beauty products and cosmetics, so they really know what they’re doing.
One tip for you is that although it does rub in well, it can go on thick. This means your best strategy is to apply little dabs all over and rub them in together, because it won’t spread far. (The bonus of course is that the tube will last a little longer!)
Beauty by Earth Facial SPF 20
This sunscreen brand was one of my kids’ favorite scents out of all 100 we tested, and it really has a lovely rub-in-ability.
It goes on very clearly and is packed with moisturizing and antioxidant oils, and the lower SPF may be nice for everyday use when you don’t need quite as high a percentage of zinc oxide. They also offer a tinted version of the facial sunscreen, but I didn’t get to try that one.
This brand is even available in Canada through Amazon and this shop!
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer
I have used this product for years as one of my two liquid foundations, ever since this natural makeup review. It goes on VERY light, not quite enough to cover up nasty blemishes but just great as a thin layer before a powder foundation. I use the correcting concealer (available in 2 shades) which is like MAGIC to cover zits, and one tube has lasted FOREVER as a spot treatment and under-eye savior. It seems to be off the market but perhaps this one is the upgrade?
The ingredients are fantastic, it smells crisp and clean, goes on smoothly, and it lasts a long time in the tube. If you’re looking for a basic daily moisturizer with a tint, Juice Beauty is a good choice. There are 3 shades offered: Ivory, Sand, and Tan. They also have a non-tinted version designed just as a moisturizer.
Carefree Naturals Tinted Stick
Although formulas with titanium dioxide aren’t my favorite, if you’re comfortable with that, this brand is formulated especially for spas, so their attention to facial needs and using non-comedogenic oils is excellent.
We’ve only tested the stick, but I imagine that their creams specifically formulated for facial use would be as good or better. The stick needs a little time to warm up to apply smoothly, but it goes on very evenly and looks great on lighter (Caucasian) skin tones.
It smells fresh and light, a little bit earthy. There is lavender and chamomile in the ingredients, so I’m guessing that’s where some of the scent comes from. I would definitely recommend this if you are worried about clogging pores and taking good care of the skin on your face. It is packed with many nourishing and moisturizing oils and natural vitamin E as a preservative.
This is one of the newer sunscreens included in my big review, and now one of my top rated. It goes on very smooth and clear, and includes 23 different antioxidants, the most impressive number I’ve ever seen on a sunscreen.
The scent has a light, fruity overtone… Maybe some banana or coconut in there? Nothing that smells artificial like many conventional sunscreens, just pure and natural and attractive.
BUY KŌKUA HERE (use the code KS for 33% off!)
Like the other two natural sunscreens that I’ve listed so far, Butterbean has very clean ingredients and uses only zinc oxide as an active SPF ingredient.
The pump goes on more thinly than the tub or stick, so although we like the others for active summer play, I have a feeling the pump might be perfect as a quick application each morning.
This cream goes on very smoothly and wintered well in the closet. In one experience, it protected arms from burning better than another brand with a 32 SPF. With organic olive oil and coconut oil, it will most certainly hold moisture in your skin.
Original Sprout Face & Body
This SPF 27 cream also goes on quite smoothly and clearly, and with coconut oil involved, I feel certain it would moisturize well.
It has a few more ingredients than I’m used to, but none are red flags and they’re in the formula specifically to assist in a smooth application, so it’s perfect for a daily facial lotion.
Marie Veronique Organics
I received a few samples of MV’s facial line, a tinted moisturizing cream with SPF. I’ve used it as foundation a number of times, and I’m pretty happy with it.
It becomes nicely matte and rubs in well. The “light” is very, very light, not for suntanned faces. There are quite a few options for shades, so you should be able to find one to fit your skin tone.
I thought Beauty Editor’s review of facial SPF moisturizers was excellent as well and I’m always thrilled to find others online with the same high standards for safety as I have!!!
Some SPF Moisturizers I wouldn’t Recommend
- Another mineral “face screen” by Coola has only 1.8% and 3.2% respectively of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. I just never see it that low. Most SPF 30 sunscreens have 18-22% zinc oxide. I just wouldn’t expect it to offer much protection!
- SanRe Organic Skinfood Supple Sunshine – This sunscreen is marketed as a daily moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores, but it’s so expensive – over $30/oz.! I also found that it still left a white cast on the face and seemed very thick to use daily.
Too much to digest?
I organized alllll the sunscreens we reviewed in their recommendation category – one page at-a-glance to find out what is safe to buy AND works! Print it or save to your phone for reference!
The guide also includes answers to questions people ask me all the time:
- Which brand rubs in the clearest?
- What’s the best for all day outdoor sports?
- How do I save money on natural sunscreens?
- What looks good on ladies’ faces?
- Is there an option that is FAST to apply to wiggly kids?
I’ll send a copy to your email so you can find it later, but you’ll also be taken right there to reduce overwhelm!
A Powder SPF?
I’ve recently started testing Brush on Block, and I want to say something about it and other “powder” zinc sunscreens.
These honestly freak me out. They’re not intended to be moisturizers but still belong in this post because you could use them like a powder cover-up makeup, I suppose.
But considering that inhaling zinc oxide is a serious health concern, and inhaling titanium dioxide is even worse, dusting the loose powder on your face around your mouth and nose seems ludicrously risky.
When I tried the Brush on Block, it got everywhere on the counter and sink, even though I was trying to control it as best I could.
There are quite a few brands like this, but I just can’t trust any of them. After I started speaking out on Facebook about it, I happened to check the loose powder cover-up from a natural company that I was using regularly. Zinc oxide. Oh, great…
We have updated a LOT this year – this is just a partial view of the 2018 updates, making the full review topping 100 kinds of mineral sunscreen to find truly the best out there!
Want to See How Some go On?
Another gal tested a bunch of mineral face sunscreens and demonstrates them quite well in great lighting in this YouTube video.
Her list, best to worst with my thoughts on the ingredients in italics:
SPF 30 category
- Hydropeptide Solar Defense SPF 30 Not currently available on Amazon, ingredient list is quite long and low active concentration.
- Coola Face Mineral Sunscreen Cucumber Matte Finish VERY low active ingredient percentage plus may possibly contain aluminum in the form of aluminum hydroxide – I’m not sure if that’s bioavailable but with the risk of Alzheimer’s and aluminum, I’m always skeptical.
- Paula’s Choice Hydralight Shine-Free Daily Mineral Complex Pretty low zinc oxide content, so I wouldn’t use it at the pool, but nice for daily use.
- MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Cream No ingredients that catch my red flag, nice high zinc and low titanium dioxide.
SPF 50 Category
- Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector The ingredients are fine, although it does include phenoxyethanol, a “sort of” natural preservative that has some concerns at EWG; both titanium and zinc are around 6%. Price point can get pretty high!!
- Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen The ingredients are decent, although it does include phenoxyethanol as well as kind of low titanium and zinc.
- Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Doesn’t list all the ingredients (grrrr) and is WOW expensive…
- CeraVe Face Lotion Invisible Zinc Eek! Includes both Retinyl Palmitate and Methylisothiazolinone. The former causes big problems when it reacts with the sun and is a super no-no in a facial cream; the latter is an unknown but may cause nervous system issues and is definitely toxic to aquatic life – as long as you don’t go in the sun or ever wash this off, it’s a fine product. :/
- La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ironically this brand was rated as the number one overall pick in Consumer Reports’ flawed 2017 sunscreen review! They were not testing for facial moisturizers though. Quite a long list of ingredients including aluminum hydroxide. Titanium dioxide is the only active ingredient, not zinc.
Now of course, the question really remains:
Do we need a daily moisturizer with SPF or is that overkill?
Here’s what you have to balance:
- definitely need Vitamin D, best obtained from proper sun exposure, impossible to get enough most of the year in the Northern part of the U.S., and possible to obtain through supplementation – although some say supplemental Vitamin D isn’t nearly as good as the sun. : Our bodies
- UVA rays: The UVA rays of the sun cause aging (wrinkles etc.) and some cancers. A broad spectrum SPF product, especially one with zinc oxide, protects from UVA rays very well. UVA rays DO come through glass, so even inside or in a vehicle, even in the winter, you’re exposed.
- UVB rays: These are the burning rays that also cause the worst skin cancers. They do come through cloud cover but NOT through glass. Much of the year, if you spend most of your time inside on a daily basis, you’re pretty safe.
So – what do you think?
Learn more about non-toxic sunscreen and sun safety:
- Natural Sunscreen Review: Over 100 Mineral Sunscreens Tested by One Family!
- Have Some Hormone Replacement Therapy with your Bikini
- Sun Protection from the Inside Out (VIDEO INTERVIEW)
- Best All-Day NATURAL Facial Moisturizing Sunscreens with SPF
- Your UVA Protection Probably Isn’t Working (Especially in the Pool)
- Why I Won’t Listen to Consumer Reports on Sunscreen
- You CAN Put Sunscreen on Babies Safely – Best Choices Here!
- 3 Reasons You Should Never Touch Spray Sunscreen
- Frugal Options to Protect your Family NATURALLY from the Sun
- Sun, Sunscreen, Skin Cancer and Safety: How Much do You Need?
- Hawaii’s Ban on Toxic Sunscreen Ingredients