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Mineral Sunscreen Review: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen

Looking for a reef-safe sunscreen that uses only zinc oxide as an active ingredient? You may want to keep looking!

Safe Natural Mineral Sunscreens that are just awful. Over 100 brands tested by one family.

With over 100 natural mineral sunscreens tested by my family of six in the past 10 years, we’ve had our share of miserable failures. White out? Paint drying? Sticky, chalky, makes you look like an alabaster statue or Casper the ghost?

I will tell you this: it’s entirely possible to find a zinc oxide sunscreen that is reef safe, really works, and goes on smoothly.

This brand is not one of them.

Read the full review below to find out all of its transgressions, and then be sure to go to my ultimate guide to natural mineral sunscreens to find a safe sunscreen that really works.

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant


Price Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 2 or 5 depending on SPF

SPF: Available in 30 or 50

Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide 21.6%

Other ingredients: Water, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, styrene/acrylates copolymer, octyldodecyl citrate crosspolymer, phenyl trimethicone, cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, dimethicone, polyhydroxystearic acid, glycerin, ethyl methicone, cetyl dimethicone, silica, chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew) flower/leaf/stem juice, glyceryl behenate, phenethyl alcohol, caprylyl glycol, cetyl dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone crosspolymer, acrylates/dimethicone copolymer, sodium chloride, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin

Antioxidants added: Chrysanthemum juice

Where to purchase: Amazon and various brick-and-mortar retailers

Water Resistance: Rated for up to 80 minutes

My review: This is pretty much a comedy show sunscreen from start to finish. Kudos to Neutrogena for a trying to create a safe sunscreen using only zinc oxide, but they have some work to do. It’s so thick and white that even we who are used to natural mineral sunscreens dropped our jaws in surprise and dismay! We only tested it one day because I borrowed a tube from a family member who shops more traditionally. What I am most disappointed about is that people looking for a natural option will probably be more likely to buy this than a really good brand simply because it is available in normal, in-person stores. But it’s such a poor example of what mineral protection can be that I worry it will turn people off and send them back to the conventional formula. What a shame!

Note: the brand also has a baby version with only minerals that a reader says she likes, but I haven’t tried it yet.


  • Easy to find


  • Very thick and white
  • Contains phenoxyethanol

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!

Have you tried this sunscreen? Was your experience similar to mine?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.