I put my heart and soul into finding the best natural mineral sunscreen over the last 10 years. My family of 6 has personally tested over 100 reef-safe sunscreen options, putting two on our bodies every time we are in the sun.
Our a/b tests have been stringent, and we really know what mineral sunscreens are effective, rub in well, and last a long time.
Of all those well over 100 choices, we only have about a dozen that we love and this brand is one of them.
If you’re looking for one of the best natural sunscreens, you’re in the right place!
As you’ll read in the full review below, this zinc oxide sunscreen covers all the bases and keeps your family safe from sunburn. It uses pristine ingredients to the highest standard, goes on smooth, and actually lasts.
If you’d like to see how it stacks up against other natural mineral sunscreen brands that use reef-safe zinc oxide, then head over to my ultimate guide to natural mineral sunscreens for the complete list of safe sunscreen reviews.
3rd Rock Sunblock
Ease of Application
EWG rating: 1
Active ingredient(s): zinc oxide (23.5%), no nano particles
Other ingredients: Kosher organic vegetable glycerin, distilled water, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, L-arginine, aloe barbadensis leaf gel, cera alba (beeswax), citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel wax, phosphatidyl choline or cetearyl glucoside and refined coconut oil extract, olibanum (frankincense) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil, tocopherol, ascorbic acid, zea mays (corn) starch, maranta arundinacea (arrowroot) root extract, xanthan gum, beta glucan, gamma oryzanol
Antioxidants added: Vitamin E, carrot oil & more
Ease of application: +
goes on pretty white but rubs in eventually, bit of a greasy shimmer. I often wrote down, “rubs in better than expected,” and after a while we learned that you can rub the cream between your fingers FIRST and then apply, and it goes in more quickly and thoroughly. A little goes a long way!! As long as you know how to apply this one – rubbing it between your hands first before applying – it rubs in extremely well. My husband has used the word “delightful” for how it applies!
Scent: very light citrus with some sort of earthy undertone, a little intense but lovely. There is also an Unscented version.
Water resistant? I expected the beeswax in the ingredients to make 3rd Rock obviously water resistant, but that was not the case. It definitely seems to stay on in water after extensive testing, but it doesn’t bead up like I’m used to.
My experience: I saw this one on a Yahoo article of some sort in spring 2011, listed as one of the top natural sunscreens available. I checked out the ingredients and really liked their story, so I asked for a sample. I’ve since met the formulator/founder and spent quite a few hours learning from him! We didn’t loooove this product at first for a few reasons, including how little I understood, but the website is so much more informative now and we’ve figured out the unique application process.
This sunscreen is unlike ANY other out there – and remember, I’ve tested over 100!!! It’s actually stringy when it comes out of the tube, almost glue-y, but there’s a method to the madness (glycerin keeps the zinc suspended evenly throughout the solution).
There are some ingredients I’ve never seen in a sunscreen, but 3rd Rock digs into the science on every one. Here are a few:
- Glycerin is a humectant, which means that in addition to having the ability to increase the solubility of active ingredients, it also leaves skin hydrated. In order for vegetable glycerin to be used in food applications (food-grade), it must have of USP grade of over 99% purity. It is non-comedogenic, so it will not clog pores.
- Beeswax with propolis: Beeswax is also an emulsifier, helping to preserve active ingredients to ensure that they are effectively released. Propolis, or “bee glue”, is produced by honey bees and the composition, like honey, varies from region to region. We use a high desert beeswax containing propolis. Propolis, advocated as a steroid- and chemical-free natural alternative, is widely used in natural therapeutic products because of its purported antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anesthetic and anti-oxidant properties.
- Corn starch: I asked the founder about this one because I have great empathy for people with allergies, and he explained that the corn starch is non-GMO and organic, and it’s also really just a by-product of corn, not corn itself.
Once in Florida, my husband was practically traumatized trying to apply sunscreen while already sweaty and sandy. 3rd Rock was the most impressive out of four we attempted under those conditions. I finally knew how to manage this cream, so I had him rub it on his hands first to warm it up just for a few seconds and then he put it on his arm and leg. He was impressed with how well it went in.
On one test on my husband in earlier years, he did burn, but no lotion out of four held up that day as he and my son played in the water far, far too long. Hubs says it smells “too girly” for him (he would want the unscented). I’d say overall in all our testing, 3rd Rock is definitely effective but perhaps less so than other SPF 35s (which may be because it’s tempting to use less than necessary). You don’t need a full ounce per adult, that’s for sure, but we probably skimp more than we ought.
My biggest concern with 3rd Rock is getting it out of the tube. The company says it will run down if you leave the bottle upside down, but that can be hard to do in beach bags and backpacks. The very first time we used it, it seems like I had to squeeze really hard to get it out already. I think it’s maybe half gone now, and it actually is still coming out, a good sign…
2021 UPDATE: We have fallen more in love with 3rd Rock over the years. Once you know how to apply it, it goes on so well. It has beaten out several other brands in terms of efficacy in A-B tests.
Star Feature: I have to give props to this company for being research-driven – the science geek in me appreciates all the information on the site. PLUS the founder has done something no one has ever done with a sunscreen, and he thinks it’s the most effective possible formulation. He suspended the zinc in glycerin instead of water or aloe, which could be a game changer. It’s a really scientific, complicated process!
- Researched ingredients
- Rubs in better than expected
- Light citrus scent or unscented
- Tube may run if upside down
Wondering if this one is the very best natural sunscreen for your family?
I organized alllll the sunscreens we reviewed in each one’s 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 see it right away and find it again later!