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.
Tropical Sands by Mexitan Chemical-Free, All-Natural Sunscreen
Ease of Application
Price: 2021 price estimate: $$$$ This is the most frugal sunscreen on the list. – check out all our money-saving techniques for natural sunscreens that won’t break the bank!
Active ingredient(s): zinc oxide (6%), titanium dioxide (6%), micronized but no nano particles
Other ingredients: Aqua (Deionized Water), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Olivate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Oil, Gluconolactone, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Wax, Lecithin, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopherol (Vitamin-E), Xanthan Gum
Antioxidants added: Vitamin E, green tea
Ease of application: + Almost watery, spreads incredibly easily
Scent: nearly neutral, lightly of green tea perhaps?
Water resistant? Yes, somewhat
My experience: Mexitan absolutely stopped one of my daughter’s arms from burning and my shoulder when applied only on one side. Three hours in the sun, 1-4:00 p.m. It’s really thin, though, and goes on like there’s too much water in it – but that also means it rubs in better than many. My husband wore it on his freshly buzzed hair, and against all odds, he did not burn after 6 hours in the sun. This is the only sunscreen I tested that is so thin and easy to spread. If you have wiggly little ones or hair that needs sunscreen applied in it, Mexitan is the perfect choice. My son did burn a little on the Mexitan side and not the Melansol side, so the “reapply after swimming” reminder is an important one here. Back in 2010 when we began, it did contain Vitamin A, but the new versions do not.
The “Coral Safe” bottle is exactly the same as the other except for a light coconut scent that is omitted. I can only imagine that they will perform exactly the same. The new SPF 50 simply has more active ingredients. I haven’t tried it yet, though, coming soon for the 2018 update – early testing is a problem as it’s VERY thick and white!
Star Feature: Made in the U.S., highly rated for “reef friendliness” and environmental safety. Super spreadability! Gets high marks for being my husband’s very favorite and his new standby.
2018 Update: I am incredibly disappointed to have to demote the Tropical Sands brand, because in our initial testing it was one of our favorites, especially for going on very very clear. In fact, I have to apologize to people who bought this brand after reading my review, between the time they reformulated and I retested. It definitely would have seemed not as advertised!
Tropical Sands offers SPF 30 and 50, and while the SPF 30 is tolerable and belongs in this second category, the SPF 50 is absolutely horrid and unmanageable as far as rub-in-ability.
SPF 50 dries way too fast and goes on incredibly white, so much so that even my children noticed. It sat on the surface of the skin so markedly that we thought it might be flaking off after it dried (and I’ve heard the same from an unfortunate reader who must have bought the 50 as well). Unfortunately, the higher number did not give added protection necessarily, because in our side-by-side test with thinkbaby, the Tropical Sands side burned quite noticeably more. That is rare… Typically our two brands on one body behave either quite similarly or with a just barely noticeable difference. On this result, I wrote, “big time more burned!”
On my husband’s legs and neck, the SPF 50 was even visibly white after an entire night sleep. He quoted, “Whatever your lowest mark is, give it to this one!”
The Tropical Sands SPF 30 in the brown bottle definitely spreads on much better than the 50, but still not nearly as well as I’ve been saying for years. My husband recorded that it spreads really well as far as feeling thin, so you don’t have to be quite as careful dabbing it on as some of the thicker creams. It feels like a little goes a long way. Sometimes that can be a risk for under applying and causing problems. Ironically, in side-by-side tests on multiple people, this version prevented burns quite well compared to BeautyCounter, which failed at every turn. An extended family member was quite impressed that her young child had no burns with this SPF 30 after a full day in the hot sun at a pool. We also observed a burn where a shirt shifted to a no cream spot, compared to the well-protected areas. I gave Tropical Sands SPF 30 an “A” in efficacy, and perhaps a “B” in transparency. It remains one of the most frugal sunscreens you can buy.
- SPF 30 is highly effective and spreads easily
- Environmentally friendly
- Contains titanium dioxide
- SPF 50 does not spread well, shows very white, and was not effective
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!