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Natural Sunscreen Review 2022: The Best Natural Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (Better than EWG!)

Sunscreen Review
Crazy but true – our family really has tested and reviewed over 120 natural mineral sunscreens over the last 10 years, and we know the best natural sunscreens that really work!

 

In this comprehensive reef-safe sunscreen review, we share which ones stay on in the water or when you sweat, which brands make you look white like a ghost and which go on smoothly, what got us burned and what natural ingredients are REALLY the best (and the brands that are tricking you with their marketing). We only include about a dozen of that 100 in our top recommended list!

This passion project is the culmination of hundreds of hours of research, expert interviews with scientists, lawyers, dermatologists and sunscreen formulators. Over 2 million people saw my Fox News segment on Facebook explaining 3 reasons to ditch conventional chemical sunscreen.

How I Got Started Testing Natural Mineral Sunscreen

We started in 2010 with 28 of the 40 natural sunscreens that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rated as “safe” at the time. (They now rank hundreds that way; exciting to see more and more brands getting on board!)

This is how that first year began as we searched for truly the best natural sunscreen out there:

“If I get sunburned today, I’m really going to have a hard time putting trust in the natural sunscreen,” my husband said during our six hours in the sun, each slathered half and half with two different natural zinc oxide sunscreens.

 

My husband has used the same sunscreen for years: Coppertone Sport, as high an SPF as they make. He has very light skin and burns before he tans. Especially after SPF 50 became available, he referred to his sunscreen as “black tarp”, because he figured about as much sunlight got through as if he had hidden under a black tarp. His skepticism about changing comes honestly, as he knows the real pain of being sunburned to a crisp.

Nonetheless, he was a good sport about this massive project to review dozens mineral based creams to search for the best, safe all natural sunscreen, for baby and for us!

Natural Mineral Sunscreen Reviews

The Best Natural Sunscreens of 2022 (Better Than EWG!)

Click HERE to skip down the page where the reviews start. I update these reviews every year and demote/promote as needed, so you can always trust the reviews. 

*these are my absolute faves

3rd Rock* | Avasol* | Babo Sport Stick | Badger* | BeautycounterButterbean | CōTZ | DeVitaEarth Mama*KabanaKabana Stick  | Kōkua* | Mexitan/Tropical Sands SPF 30 | Maelove* | Poofy OrganicsRaw Elements* | Raw Love | Releve | Rubber DuckyStream2Sea | Thinkbaby* | Young Living

Wondering About Other Brands We’ve Tried?

Take a look at the sunscreens I’ve reviewed that other people love, but I don’t:

Anarres Natural Health LotionsAlba Botanica (Mineral Protection only) | All TerrainArbonneBabo Botanicals (Sport Shield Stick SPF 50 only*)Beauty by EarthBlock IslandCalifornia BabyDr. MercolaGoddess GardenKeys Soap Solar RX | Natural Tone | Original Sprout | Primal Life Organics | PronouncePurple Prairie | Sol Kid Care | ThinksportTropicSport | TruKid | Vanicream

Too much to look through right now?

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 see it right away and find it again later!

How to Apply Sunscreen

You’re really supposed to use a lot of sunscreen in order for the SPF to be accurate. A grown man would need an entire ounce (shot glass full) of the stuff to reach full protection.

One company who partnered with me for a sun protective clothing review: “To reach the advertised SPF on a bottle of sunscreen a child needs to have applied: face and neck ½ tsp, one arm and hand ½ tsp.” Wow! An adult needs 2 teaspoons for just the back and shoulders (and that’s another reason I choose sun protective clothing most of the time!).

Natural Sunscreen Review: Best All Natural, Safe Zinc Oxide Sun Protection

If you’re using a chemical sunscreen, you do need to:

  1. Rub it into your skin so that it absorbs
  2. Give it 20-30 minutes to fully absorb before you go into the direct sun (source)
  3. Make SURE you reapply every hour or two at least, because once the sunscreen absorbs far enough into your skin, it not only stops working but actually interacts with the sunshine (ironic, right) to cause free radicals and oxidation in your skin, which cause cancer.

Mineral sunblocks begin to work right away AND do not cause problems if you forget to reapply (and who doesn’t most of the time?), as long as you haven’t physically wiped or washed the sunscreen off your skin.

But zinc oxide lotions can be a little finicky – I suggest you learn the “Dabba Dabba” method to apply your sunscreen correctly. Here’s the video demo.

An Important Lesson You Need to Know about Buying Mineral Sunscreen

When you’re making a shopping list using something like the EWG’s Skin Deep Database, you really need to write down exactly the name of those sunscreens that are rated safe. I ended up inadvertently accepting review samples of two sunscreens that were rated 6 (moderate hazard) at EWG, and I didn’t realize it until I was scanning the ingredients on the bottle: “Octisalate, Homosalate…”

“Hmmm. Those sound an awful lot like the same old chemicals in my Coppertone. I wonder how they got such a safe rating…”

Once I checked the database, I figured out my error. You can’t just remember the brand and head off to the store.

Many brands have chemical and mineral-based sunscreens, and it’s really easy to get them mixed up. It’s probably a smart idea for the company, since zinc oxide sunblocks don’t usually achieve an SPF higher than 30. By making both, the brand can pull in all the natural mommas and please those super-safe moms who just want the higher SPF. (More on how SPF protection works and why higher isn’t always better.)

In this review, I won’t give a  top recommendation to a brand that won’t stand behind mineral sunscreens as being the best – it’s too confusing for people to have to find “the right one.”

If you’d like to see an example of how tricky it can be (and get an idea of how to evaluate sunscreens that aren’t on my list), I shot a little screen video of the process I use to lok at a new sunscreen. This one turned out to be totally greenwashed, so frustrating!!!


If you can’t see the video above, click “Evaluating Natural Sunscreens” to view on YouTube.

How We Review Natural Sunscreens

The Environmental Working Group recommended fewer than 40 safe sunscreens on its 2010 Sunscreen Safety Guide. I started there and ended up with 28 sunscreens, 25 of which are rated 0-3 at EWG’s Skin Deep Database.

Natural Sunscreen Review: Best All Natural, Safe Zinc Oxide Sun Protection

Now each year I comb through the old reviews here and add new thoughts based on more long-term usage AND new evidence that I find on sunscreen safety, like the importance of antioxidants and avoiding nanoparticles or micronized zinc oxide, plus price updates. I also get a lot of recommendations from readers now, and in recent years I’ve added more than TWENTY new brands!

By 2011 the EWG was able to list 158 top-rated sunscreens as many companies added mineral formulas to their line; I had about 50 of them at that point and it climbs up every year.

How we test mineral sunscreens:

I always put two kinds of sunscreen on, one of each half of our families’ bodies.

Especially when in the sun all day, we always record any sunburns. Once I did forget to apply sunscreen to my own face completely, and it got slightly pink while my shoulders did not. I was encouraged to know that the zinc oxide based mineral sunscreens clearly do something effective.

Here are the criteria I attempt to analyze with each product:

  • Did anyone get a sunburn? Since I use two kinds almost every time, I am always looking to see if there is a difference in the tan/burn on either side. Sometimes (on myself only) I will leave one side without any treatment just to try to really test the product to see if I burn. (And I did, ahem…How to Treat a Sunburn Naturally if you’re interested)
  • EWG Safety Rating? The Environmental Working Group rates tens of thousands of personal products based on each ingredient’s safety: cancer-causing, hormone disruptors, etc. A rating of 0-2 is generally deemed “safe,” and 3 is close enough for me! Note: To make the best decision on a product, look not only at the overall rating but each individual ingredient. You may want to choose a lotion rated “2” over one that’s rated “1” overall but has a “5” or “6” ingredient snuck in there.
  • Stays on in water? Repels water? I was very surprised to see water actually beading up on our skin with most of the zinc-based mineral sunblocks. I liked it! I felt like I was visibly able to see that the sunblock would remain on while in the water. Some of them still repelled water after 3+ hours.
    Natural Sunscreen Review: Best All Natural, Safe Zinc Oxide Sun Protection
  • Stings eyes? How often have you comforted a screaming child whose eyes were stung by a chemical sunscreen? I’ve seen it happen, and stinging eyes is one of the reasons my husband has liked his “sport” sunscreen so well. I don’t want to purchase a sunscreen that will make my kids afraid to put it on because it hurts. You won’t see me mention this much in the individual reviews, because no one ever screamed, cried, or complained about stinging of any kind.
  • Greasy or creamy? For many people, consistency can be a deal-breaker when everything else is similar. I don’t really care as long as it works, but I will tell you what I can about how the product feels on the skin.
  • Rubs in well? Mineral sunblocks, by nature, just don’t rub in well. They’re sitting on top of the skin to block the sun. That said, some rub in better than others.
  • Separates? Some of the products separate in the tube. This one doesn’t really matter to me, but I thought I’d share in case it does to you.
  • Forms visible barrier? Although this is pretty much the opposite of “rubs in well” and might be a negative to some people, it makes me happy if I can see the sunblock at work. Then I know if it’s come off in the water.
    • In the individual reviews below, I’ll classify the four categories above as “Ease of application” and rate it overall with a (+) as a high score, a (+/-) for the middle ground and a (-) for a negative rating.
      Natural Sunscreen Review: Best All Natural, Safe Zinc Oxide Sun ProtectionMany mineral sunblocks are much thicker than your standard chemical sunscreen; this is Miessence Outdoor Balm.
  • Pleasant scent? My aromatic addict oldest child kept me straight on this one at first, giving his immediate and honest opinion on how each sunscreen smelled upon application. Now everyone in the family has an opinion!
  • Skin reaction? I’ll tell you if anyone got a rash from any of the products. That’s a pretty important indicator of quality!
  • Inclusion of antioxidants? With all the free radicals caused by the sun, it certainly helps protect your skin if your sunscreen includes antioxidants like Vitamin E or green tea.
  • Nano vs. micronized minerals? Whether this matters or not, I think it’s important to know what’s in the sunblock choices so you can make an informed decision. I emphasize NON-nano particles of both minerals because of information such as this from the EWG: “Studies suggest that nanomaterials are toxic in the environment to fish and other aquatic life and can damage organs when they enter the bloodstream after being absorbed through the skin, lungs or gut. ” Better safe (and more pasty white) than sorry, in my opinion.

When I decide to HIGHLY recommend a product, I am looking for the ones that fit ALL of the following criteria:

  • zinc oxide only
  • non-nano particles
  • includes antioxidants
  • all recognizable ingredients
  • rated no. 1 at EWG (maybe some 2s)
  • no vitamin A
  • water resistant
  • goes on the skin easily
  • not too cost-prohibitive
  • FDA approved

One year we added over 20 new brands to this review, which was a huge undertaking. Many of them got a few months of testing all summer before, and some we received in August when we all had great base tans and no one was burning anymore. We got to test a lot of them during a spring break trip to Florida. We drove (over 40 hours in a van with four kids! We survived!) and so I didn’t feel bad about bringing 30 tubes of sunscreen.

That spring break testing was actually really interesting, and for a while, I thought all our brands were failing!

In retrospect, I think we are such a light-skinned family that there was no way to prevent some pink on the first few days. It all tanned out, and no peeling or pain.

We had a few obvious successes, like a little stripe on my 6-year-old’s arm where his sleeve shifted up which burned while the rest of him stayed safe. That sunscreen obviously did its job, as did the one that protected my very fair-skinned three-year-old’s face, which we know for certain because we didn’t get it close enough to his hairline where he got a little burned.

We don’t do this on purpose, leaving skin open to the sun on my children just to see if they burn, but it’s a silver lining when it happens on accident so that we can prove the efficacy of the brand we are testing. Of course, I had safe sunburn remedies for their skin packed as well!

How Do I Evaluate a Sunscreen Not Included Here?

Although it sure feels like I have a sample of every natural sun protection cream in the entire world, it doesn’t even come close – and we’ve more than tripled this list since we began. If you’re wondering about a brand that I didn’t get to test, you can determine for yourself if it’s a safe buy:

  • Go straight to the ingredients. There should be a Drug Facts box, optimally.
  • ONLY the two minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) should be “active” ingredients. I prefer zinc oxide only myself, and definitely any titanium dioxide must be in conjunction with zinc.
  • Only non-nano particles.
  • There should be some sort of antioxidant included (Vitamin E, aka Tocopheryl acetate, green tea, etc.)
  • No retinyl palmitate (synthetic Vitamin A).
  • No parabens, synthetic or unlabeled “fragrances” – that’s a general rule for all body products.
  • Check the ratings at EWG’s database, and remember to go into the individual ingredients. It’s possible for a product to be rated a 1 or 2 (very safe) and have one ingredient that is still hanging out at a 5 or 6 (not as safe).
  • If you can pronounce all the other ingredients, all the better!
  • Note: Many of the best mineral sunscreens (and none of the chemical ones) are rated “reef safe,” which means that they won’t be harmful to coral reefs, a big problem with some of these creams. That also means they’re biodegradable, which is a term that some cancer docs are telling their patients to look for, according to a reader recovering from cancer. Unfortunately now that Hawaii has banned a few ingredients, too many brands are claiming “reef-friendly” when they’re really not! This term isn’t as helpful as it used to be. 🙁 

RELATED: Evaluating and choosing a tinted mineral sunscreen

Too much to look through right now?

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 see it right away and find it again later!

The ultimate natural sunscreen guide
Grab an email subscription or to catch more comprehensive reviews, like the best cloth diaper reviews and natural insect repellents. For more sun protection, see my sun protection reviews.

Kitchen Stewardship®‘s TOP Mineral Sunscreen Recommendations…

Top recommended safe natural mineral sunscreens

The following natural sunscreens and sunblocks are in my general order of preference within each section.

Recommendations are based on overall impression, safety, and price. The best sunblocks in this first section are those I could actually see myself purchasing for my family. They MUST have:

  • zinc oxide only
  • non-nano particles
  • antioxidants included
  • rated no. 1 at EWG (maybe some 2s)
  • no parabens or other questionable ingredients
  • no phenoxyethanol, a common “natural” preservative that is iffy for humans and unsafe for marine life (source)
  • no vitamin A
  • 80 minutes water resistant
  • goes on the skin easily
  • FDA approved (i.e. has a Drug Facts box)

 REVIEWS UPDATED FOR 2022!

Note: All prices are what I found online as of this year. They will most certainly change, so look at them as only an estimation for your reference! 

I have a new post about FRUGAL Natural Sun Protection, if budget is a concern for you, and one all about the Best Sunscreens for Babies specifically.

Raw Elements Eco Formula Sunscreen
Overall
5
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Raw Elements SunscreenPrice Range: $$$$ (tub) or $$$$ (stick)

Where to purchase: Raw Elements (use the coupon code KS10 for 10% off entire order!!)

SPF: 30+

EWG Rating: 1

Active Ingredient(s): non-nano zinc oxide (22.75%), also non-micronized

Other Ingredients: Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Green Tea, Organic Black Tea, Organic Coffee, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, All Natural Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, All Natural Rosemary Oil Extract, All Natural Vitamin E ***All Ingredients Marked Organic Are Certified Organic

Antioxidants Added: sunflower oil, green tea, black tea, cocoa butter, mango butter, Vitamin E

Ease of Application: +/- very thick, but still able to rub in decently well; stick is less messy to apply and glides on okay in warm temps

Scent: pleasant, strongly of cocoa butter (stick)

Water Resistant? Very much so! Water was still beading up after over 90 minutes in the sun and lake.

My Experience: The stick is surprising – it doesn’t go on white nor look overly brown (either the tinted or clear sticks). I really enjoy having them for faces, although the small size gets tedious (and expensive) if you try to do the whole body with them. My husband chimes in that the stick feels like a sticky mat of honey in a man’s arm hair. Definitely not ideal for full-body coverage! But the lotion is not difficult to put on either, so between the two, this brand makes great strides. You can see for yourself how the stick goes on in this video on Facebook.

The ingredients are fantastic, nothing synthetic at all, so I’m over the moon about that, and it weathered months in storage just fine. The sticks look a little gritty but they still glide on very clear, so no problem there.

The tinted facial cream is the adult’s best answer to not looking like Casper, and it even looks fine on very light skin (my husband). We had it around when a bunch of families with kids were together in intense sunshine on vacation, and other adults started asking me, “Where did you get this? This is amazing!” I even dropped the tub a bunch, it dented, and it popped back into shape and the threads even still screwed closed tightly (phew). I’m kind of becoming a super fan…

Raw Elements is working toward no plastic, so they have metal tubs of both their tinted facial moisturizer and larger tubs of the regular cream. They are seriously the best!

When I went on our Fox morning news in 2018 to share about the new Hawaii legislation, the anchor actually ordered some Raw Elements between segments! Here’s a facebook video review that includes this stick.

Pros

  • super ingredients
  • clear finish
  • the ultimate in water resistance

Cons

  • none
Raw Elements Sunscreen ReviewUse the coupon code KS10 for 10% off entire order at Raw Elements’ online store!

Kōkua Sun Care
Overall
5
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Kōkua Suncare SunscreenPrice Range: $$$$

Where to purchase: Kōkua Online (use the code KS for 15% off!)

SPF: 50

EWG Rating: 1

Active ingredient(s): 25% Non-nano Zinc Oxide

Other ingredients:
Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caprylyl Caprylate/Caprate, Hawaiian Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Hawaiian Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui) Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Cetyl Dimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Hydrogenated Methyl Abietate, Galactoarabinan, Propanediol, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, KonaRed® Hawaiian Coffee Fruit Extract, Hawaiian Noni Honey, Hawaiian Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) Fruit Juice, Arthrospira Platensis (Hawaiian Spirulina), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Heliantus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis (Cantaloupe) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Butter Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Leaf/Seed Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Heliantus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Plumeria Alba Flower Extract, Kaolin, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol Caprylhydroxamic Acid

Antioxidants added: Konared® Hawaiian Coffee Fruit Extract, Kukui Nut Oil, Noni Fruit Juice, Plumeria Extract, Noni Honey and more – 23 total!!!

Ease of application: It goes on very smooth and clear. One major test for us is if it goes on through my husband’s arm hair and even buzzed head, and this one passed that test with flying colors. It will take a bit more time to rub in compared to conventional sunscreens, but for a mineral sunscreen it gets really darn clear.

Scent: Our family loved this lotion. The scent had my children swooning with its light, fruity overtone… maybe some banana or coconut in there? Nothing that smells artificial like many conventional sunscreens, just pure and natural and attractive.

Water Resistant? Yes! 80 minutes FDA approved. (That’s the highest legally allowed)

My experience:  We had one little incident with burning, but I don’t think it was the fault of the sunscreen, just that my son is too fair for Florida sun in April! The other brand in the A/B test also allowed a pink tinge to happen. It was not a bad burn, no peeling, and I do think this SPF50 would protect as well as any other natural or conventional sunscreen.

My review: I’m proud to put Kōkua Sun Care in my very highest recommended category. It’s definitely a new favorite in 2018!

The founder of the company is a lawyer and knows a lot about making sure the product is up to standards with the FDA, as well as how to keep the oceans and reefs safe. She does a lot of education and advocacy on the islands and beyond through media. I love learning about the stories behind the companies and I often feel that I can trust the brand more because of this very human and very conscientious face. The product is made in California, not Hawaii, only because there are no FDA-approved facilities on the islands.

The cream itself is just lovely in all ways and passes every test. My daughter even chose it as the one to put on for an all-day field trip, so it’s kid-approved as well!

From Kōkua: 
I would like to give you some follow up on Kōkua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50/80 minutes WR.
There has been quite a buzz in Hawaii about potentially being the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing the toxic chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate! Here is a news article on the latest news at the Hawaii legislature. Kōkua Sun Care is a Hawaii company and has been an active participant to make this happen submitting testimony, writing emails, meeting with legislators, and participating in rallies and trade-ins, etc.

Part of our mission is to educate and convert chemical sunscreen users to zinc oxide sunscreen to save the coral reefs, marine life, and humans. As you likely know, chemical sunscreens and many of the preservatives that we see in personal care products, even ones that are supposed to be “natural” contain lots of toxins that harm people and marine life, like parabens and phenoxyethanol. Please see our blog post here on What Reef Safe Really Means. We have trade-ins at events whereby people can trade in their toxic sunscreens for a discount and upgrade to Kōkua Sun Care.

We advocated for the passage of the Hawaii bill to ban oxybenzone and octinoxate, submitted testimony, and supported the efforts of scientist Dr. Craig Downs (who led the team that discovered that chemical sunscreens, inter alia, are killing coral reefs world-wide, see research here) to educate the public about reef safe alternatives. We are proud to be a member of the Safe Sunscreen Council, see www.safesunscreencouncil.org, and  we have been featured in many articles about reef safe sunscreen and why you need it, like this one in Travel + Leisure Magazine, see link here.

Our aim with Kōkua Sun Care is to provide a natural zinc sunscreen alternative to chemicals that gives maximum protection and does not require the user to compromise on performance. We have a lot of ingredients but 23 are natural antioxidants (7 of them Hawaiian for extra potent antioxidant action) to neutralize free radicals and the rest are non-toxic and mostly plant-derived to provide a well-emulsified, SPF boosted formula with zinc optimally dispersed that really stays on.

Be sure to use the coupon code KS for 15% off your purchase at Kōkua’s Online Store!

Pros

  • rubs in really well
  • smells great
  • includes 23 different antioxidants, the most impressive number I’ve ever seen! Seven of them are from plants grown in Hawaii which is just kind of a cool integration with the brand.

Cons

  • the price is a little high, but well worth it in my opinion
Kōkua Suncare Sunscreen As a Kitchen Stewardship® reader you can get an exclusive discount at Kōkua Sun Care’s online store! Use the code KS during checkout for 15% off!

Get 15% Off Kōkua

Maelove
Overall
4.3
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Maelove Sunscreen
Price Range: $$$$

EWG rating: not in database

SPF: 30

Active ingredient(s): Zinc Oxide (18.6%)

Other ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, butylene glycol, glycerine, glyceryl stearate, PEG 100-Stearate, cyclohexascyloxane, polyglycerol 3 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, sorbitan stearate, Dimethicone, caprylic/capric triglyceride, sodium lactate, polyacrylamide, C 13-14 isoparaffin, laureth-7, caprylyl glycol, hexylyne glycol, imperata cylydrica root extract, PEG-8, carbomer, triethoxysilylethyl, polydimethylilsyloxyethyl hexel dimethicone, cetyl alcohol, lecithin, tocopherol, ethylhexlglycerin, absorbyl palmitate, ascorbic acid, xanthan gum, tocopherol, linoleate/oleate, teprenone, phoenix dactylifera (date) fruit extract, polygonum aviculare extract, disodium EDTA, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, arabidopsis thaliana extract, plankton extract, miscrococcus lysate

Antioxidants added: Vitamins C and E

Where to purchase: Maelove

Ease of application: 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. There are more ingredients than I am used to appreciating, but none of them are hazardous, so if aesthetics and a very clear lotion is your ultimate goal along with safe mineral protection, this one is a huge winner. We even had marginal success rubbing it on to my husband’s wet head through his hair. It was developed by a group of post-college friends in many different disciplines, from medical to chemistry to engineering. That alone is kind of a cool story, and I think they are going to do a great job building the brand.

Scent: quite neutral

Water resistant? +

Star Feature: Definitely how easily it rubs in!

My experience: Sometimes I can tell what creams are really worth their salt by how quickly we use them as a family. We had two tubes of Maelove, and they are both nearly gone after just half of summer, and that is with over 20 other sunscreens being tested. That means we reached for this one a lot when we just needed something quickly and might not have been side-by-side testing. If I had to choose one brand to take with me on vacation, I would not hesitate for it to be this one… I just might take two tubes!

We also are confident that it genuinely protects from the sun because both my little boys got stripes of burned skin where their swim shirts crept up and showed unprotected skin accidentally. There was no evidence of pink where the Maelove had been applied. It also protected better on my two-year-old when Adorable Baby on the other side allowed a burn.

Our 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.

Pros

  • rubs in great
  • very lightweight
  • doubles as makeup primer

Cons

  • goes on thick
  • higher price point
  • small tubes
Maelove Sunscreen

Maelove is one the most clear zinc-based sunscreens we’ve tried – and we have tried a lot! It’s great for your face, too, one of the sunscreens I recommend for a facial moisturizer.

Thinkbaby Sunscreen
Overall
4.5
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

thinkbaby sunscreenPrice Range: $$$$

Where to Purchase: thinkbaby, HerbsPro, Well.ca (Canada), Walgreens online

SPF: 50

EWG Rating: 1

Active Ingredient(s): 20% non-nano zinc oxide

Other Ingredients: purified water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, capric caprylic triglycerides, sorbitan stearate (coconut based), pine wood resin, vegetable glyceri), cetyl dimethicone, hydrogenated castor oil, magnesium sulfate (epsom salt), sunflower oil, jojoba oil, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), tocopherols (vitamin e), olive oil, raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, hyaluronic acid (made from vegetable), glucose oxidase & lactoperoxidase, papaya

Antioxidants Added: Vitamin E, olive oil, raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil

Ease of Application: + Use small dots all over and it will rub in great

Scent:  papaya, which presents as citrus to most of us

Water Resistant? rated to 80 minutes

Star Feature: Fairly frugal and good rub-in-ability (Check out my frugal natural sunscreen post for more budget-saving ideas!)

My Review: 
In 2017 / 2018, we retested thinkbaby at the request of many readers and viewers of my sunscreen spot on the news who weren’t happy to see that thinksport was so far down on the list. Like Badger, so many people love this brand that I had to give it a second chance. (Because I can’t guarantee the two brands are the same, although the ingredients are very close, thinksport is still in “brands other people love.”)

We discovered that it rubs in quite nicely, I would say about average for the mineral sunscreens we like, better than many. Expect to spend a little extra time rubbing it in if you want it 95% clear. My kids love the orange scent (which is apparently papaya!).

We did have one instance where my oldest got burned on his arm through the lotion, thinking the Florida sun was too much for him. I would say to focus on reapplying more with this brand, and it may not be as strong as one would expect from an SPF 50. However, a friend with vitiligo tried it and had no problem on his very sensitive hands. He was brave to trust a new brand with that skin condition!

Note from Amazon reviews: A reader pointed out something that came up multiple times in the Amazon reviews for thinkbaby – that it tends to separate over time, and if it comes out of the tube anything other than white, it needs to be kneaded and/or shaken really, really well or you’ll burn because you’re not getting zinc oxide on your skin! We have had some intermittent experiences with the brand, and perhaps that’s why. Something to be aware of, with any brand really!

Pros

  • rubs in fairly well
  • frugal

Cons

  • separates in the tube over time
thinkbaby sunscreen

thinkbaby is one of the more frugal and readily available sunscreens on our list! You can find it at many big box retailers and pharmacies in the US. (AND it smells amazing!)

3rd Rock Sunblock
Overall
4.8
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Summary

3rd Rock SunscreenPrice Range: $$$$$$$$

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 35

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

Where to purchase: 3rd Rock Sunblock online free shipping on orders over $50 and use the code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off!, Amazon

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!

Pros

  • Researched ingredients
  • Rubs in better than expected
  • Light citrus scent or unscented

Cons

  • Tube may run if upside down
3rd Rock Sunblock Kitchen Stewardship® readers get an exclusive discount on 3rd Rock Sunblock! Use code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off.
20% Off 3rd Rock

Badger Sunscreens
Overall
4.6
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Badger Mineral SunscreenPrice Range: $$$$$$$$ varies – cheaper per ounce when you buy a larger size

Where to Purchase: Badger Online, various brick & mortar stores, Amazon, Grove.co, Well.ca for Canada (Sport

Heads up! I originally included the Kids Clear Face Stick in this review, but it’s been demoted! It allowed a lot of burns on a recent trip and showed itself to be super difficult to apply well.

SPF: 15-35

EWG rating: 1 for all formulas

Cream:

  • Active ingredient(s): zinc oxide (10-22.5%, varies) non-nano uncoated (>200nm, so not micronized either)
  • Other ingredients: *Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Oil, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E). * = Certified Organic
  • Antioxidants added: varies, olive oil, shea butter, sunflower oil and Vitamin E from sunflower oil, various essential oils, seabuckthorn and vanilla extracts. (As an aside, Badger has just about the best ingredients explanations I’ve ever seen…)

Tinted:

  • Active ingredient(s): Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 18.75%
  • Other ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E), *Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Fruit Extract, Iron Oxides (C.I. 77492, C.I. 77499) (and) Jojoba Esters
  • Antioxidants added: Sunflower Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Ease of application:

  • Cream: + Our whole family really likes this product and how well it goes on. It can be thin, so we’ve learned not to open the tube when it’s upside down, but for non-nano especially, it rubs in remarkably well. The previous Badger formula was described as a bit “greasy,” but this new one is totally different. Improvement!
  • Tinted: + When Badger released a new tinted version, I knew we had to try it. We are huge fans of tinted sunscreen, especially for adults’ faces. This one is only rated for 40 minutes water resistance, so it may be best if you are not doing a lot of swimming. As with other Badger varieties we have tried, this lotion goes on nicely smooth and rubs in quite easily. The list of ingredients is short and very clean, and the tint is the lighter side so versatile for most Caucasian skin types. It looked good even on my very fair-skinned husband’s face, and although he did get a little pink with it, it was that first day in Florida and I really believe it could not be helped. I hear from time to time that people are burning with Badger – if that’s you, you’re not alone. Time to try another brand!

Scent: varies – some unscented, some delightfully like oranges (kids really like that one, me too)

Water Resistant? The “cream” sunscreens definitely repel water; the “lotion” versions aren’t intended to, and they don’t. Read your labels carefully to know what you’re getting!

My experience: Back when I first started reviewing sunscreens years ago, I was not a fan of the Badger sunblocks, but they reformulated all their varieties in spring 2013, and they emailed me explaining that the changes they had made should really take care of all my previous complaints about the product (separation, purplish-white hue on skin).

I was actually pretty excited to try the new products, and the first surprise was how many different “flavors” of sunscreen there are, from “kids” and “baby” to “sport” and “daily.”

Some are water resistant to 40 or 80 minutes (they typically contain beeswax for staying power and have been rigorously tested; FDA regulations prohibit the use of the term “waterproof” anymore, so this is as good as you’ll get), others are intended as a moisturizer with SPF in a way, and they’re all broad spectrum (UVA, UVB, even UVC) and use only zinc oxide (non-nano particles) as the active ingredient.

The next surprise was honestly the vast difference in ingredients. The sport formula cream, for example, has only 5 ingredients, all very recognizable. The baby formula lotion shocked me with its 18 ingredients, some of which I didn’t recognize and a number of which used soy. As I dig into the website and literature that arrived with my samples, I think I understand why now.

Badger has divided its line into “creams” and “lotions.” The lotions are intended for daily use, are not water resistant, and have many extra ingredients for the purposes of emulsification so it doesn’t separate, getting it to rub in clear (and it does, 100% clear), and some antioxidants to fight the free radicals from sunshine exposure and a few natural preservatives. The ingredients are all sourced naturally, but for a sunscreen, personally, I’d rather have one tube that I can put on my kids whether they’re going to be swinging at the park or running through the sprinkler.

I prefer the creams, then, which have very simple ingredients, don’t rub in quite as well (but pretty darn effectively for a zinc oxide sunscreen!), and repel water like nobody’s business.

The “baby” version of the cream differs from the “sport” only slightly: baby doesn’t have jojoba oil and adds two essential oils for scent and antioxidants plus seabuckthorn and vanilla for the same reasons. Many brands add additional antioxidants to their baby formulas; if you don’t want scented, the sport is JUST as safe and gentle for baby’s skin (and the whole family), although it does have a higher concentration of zinc oxide by a few percent.

Badger still sells their two originals that I tested, a lavender scented SPF 18 and 30, both labeled “cream” in a 2.9 oz. tube. I wish I had the old ingredients list to see if they’re exactly the same or not, but they’re labeled “original formula.” It’s possible they rub in better and aren’t greasy simply because of the way Badger is working with non-nano uncoated zinc oxide, but I didn’t get to test those so I can’t say for sure.

For our family, I’d choose the sport and/or kids sunscreen cream.

I’m very pleased to now have it in the “KS Recommends” section, because the company really is taking care to do things right. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the depth and candid nature of their information, especially their coverage of nano particles and the extensive and honest FAQs. Reef safe and biodegradable just make the deal sweeter.

Pros

  • safe, simple ingredients
  • rubs in well
  • easy to find in brick and mortar stores

Cons

  • Be Aware: watch for soy and corn in some of the lotion formulas (not sport or baby/kids cream) if you’re sensitive to either one.

Bottom line with Badger: few ingredients, not outrageously priced, and one of the easier brands to grab at a brick and mortar retailer. The “lotions” mentioned seem to have been phased out, so just choose from baby, kids, active, and sport.

Earth Mama Lady Face Sunscreen Sticks
Overall
4.6
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$$$$$

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 40

Active ingredient(s):  Zinc Oxide 22% non-nano

Other ingredients: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Cera Alba (Beeswax)*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Tocopherol, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract* *Organic

Antioxidants added: sunflower oil, shea butter, tocopherol, aloe vera

Where to purchase: Earth Mama, Amazon

Ease of application: + Earth Mama is the first tinted sunscreen I’ve found that actually seems to look fine on little kids. It doesn’t make them look like they’re wearing makeup. If you have kids who don’t like the bit of a white cast that many other zinc oxide sunscreens provide, Earth Mama is a great stick. This stick glides on nicely and rubs in very well. In fact, you almost don’t need to rub it in, and it’s just slightly wider than most sticks. So you could pretty easily paint your entire face with a light layer and rub in for 10 seconds and be done. That’s another bonus when it comes to kids, but I embrace it as an adult as well. On both my husband and me, with very different skin complexions, the medium-light tinted stick looked the best of a few brands we were testing at one time. There is also a medium-dark stick for darker complexions.

Scent: light and herby, a bit sweet because of the cocoa butter

Water resistant? Rated for up to 40 minutes

My experience: Earth Mama performed very well against other brands as far as burning and this was with many hours under the hot Arizona sun. I’m very pleased with the ingredients and only have one caveat. In a side-by-side test against another brand’s SPF 20, it didn’t seem to perform any better, even though it’s an SPF 40. However, that may not mean a thing. This stick goes in my top recommended tier.

Pros

  • tinted stick works even for kids
  • tinted for different complexions

Cons

  • pricier choice

The Earth Mama brand has been around quite awhile, and it’s one I trust. This tinted stick is one of my favorites! (See more about choosing a tinted sunscreen here.)

Kabana Green Screen®
Overall
4
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

kabana sunscreenPrice Range: $$$$$$$$

Where to Purchase: Kabana online, Amazon, or Whole Foods

SPF: 31-35

EWG Rating: 1

Active Ingredient(s): zinc oxide (25%), non nano

Other Ingredients: Eldorado Springs Artesian Water, Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Vegetable Glycerine, Organic Shea Butter, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax NF (cetearyl alcohol & polysorbate 60 from COCONUT!!), Vegetable Vitamin E (non-gmo from sunflower seeds)

Antioxidants Added: Vitamin E

Ease of Application: +/- Average for zinc-based sunblocks

Scent: neutral

Water Resistant? Yes! Doesn’t repel water like some others do, but doesn’t allow burns even after swimming.

My Experience: Although my husband, who is notorious for not applying sunscreen evenly, burned a bit at a baseball game between noon and 3:00, our brother-in-law and neighbors did not burn at all, even after swimming. The brother-in-law had some other products on as well and did burn, so I feel pretty confident in the effectiveness of Kabana Green Screen. My neighbor didn’t like the consistency and would not use it again. As natural sunblocks go, that’s pretty standard issue, so I guess I’m used to it. The tinted version helps alleviate the Casper the Friendly Ghost look, but it’s too “tan” for very fair skin and looks odd.

What really puts Kabana at the top is the ingredients – when I was asked by a cousin to choose one for her son, just barely 6 months, I felt I could only grab one that had zinc oxide as an active ingredient, since that is rated safe for babies’ bottoms from day one. Kabana was the one I told her to take home with her… Note: Here are my only best recommended sunscreens for babies, updated each year.

Star Feature: Kabana was founded by a Stanford grad with a chemistry background who has a real passion for safe skin care. The website is packed with information that I eagerly perused. The boss man, Erik, teaches you to read labels and assures you of the quality of each of his ingredients, many of them organic. For the quality of the product, the price is very reasonable. Kabana is also an eco-friendly company.

My Review: (I started using Kabana in 2010 and have kept up on adding thoughts multiple times and always look each year to make sure this is 100% up to date!) Kabana’s new Vitamin D sunblock feels so safe to me, and it’s one of the only ones I would put on a baby. However, you should know that it doesn’t “rub in” at all, and it’s not meant to. My kids look a little ghostly, but it’s “safety first” for me with them, not beauty. My husband won’t use it at all – beauty first for him, apparently!

Just kidding. For the adults, we’ve been using Kabana’s new tinted blend. They really do work as far as not looking white, but hubs was very worried he’d look like he was wearing makeup. He was relieved that he didn’t. Winking smile

For darker complexions, Kabana has the deepest shade of tinted sunscreen that I’ve found. Zinc oxide is a particular challenge for non-white skin, as one reader pointed out!

You should know about this one, though, that it stains clothing really, really badly. That’s why, even though it looks great on the kids, even John’s white baby skin (nude for kids; bronze is great like a foundation for adults), we won’t use it on them anymore. They’re too wiggly and we’ve wrecked a few shirts already and aren’t willing to risk more.

2018 Update: Both tubes I still have are a few years if not a lot of years expired, so I really do need to retest soon. To be fair, although Kabana has been one of my favorites for a long time, so many more good brands of come on the market that it may be moving down in the ranks. It really is quite tough to rub in, but with some work you can get it to disappear. Typically after being in storage for a while, water will separate out and make a good mess on your first squeeze.

I remain a big fan of this brand on principle and sentimental value in a way since it was the first of the best, and I would still use it regularly on my kids, but it might be too thick and white for my face. The tinted versions always did well, and I used to wear them as foundation. As long as I added some powder, I did not look shiny.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend the new Kabana Vitamin D sunblock for every family with young children, and the newly formulated tinted blend for anyone who can sit still and not get it on clothing.

Kabana is in the final process of getting FDA regulated. They do have a drug facts box.

From the founder: “I am in process with the NDC stuff and uploading the labels etc to the FDA site. It’s not ready yet but we are getting there – I’ll pass on the info as soon as I can. Historically between FDA not regulating sunscreens until 2012 and that we use natural ingredients which are impossible to characterize to FDA typical drug standards, it was an issue, but more and more manufacturers are utilizing inherently complex chemistry natural oils and the regulatory situation is changing a bit.”

Pros

  • super clean ingredients
  • various tints available for all complexions

Cons

  • doesn’t rub in as well as some others, although the tinted version gets around that some
  • stains clothes
Kabana Green Screen D Kabana’s Green Screen® D has just six ingredients, including vitamins E and D3 and 25% zinc oxide! The allergen-free formula is great for very sensitive skin.

Avasol Surfer's Barrier Stick
Overall
4.4
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Avasol SunscreenPrice Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 2

SPF: 30 and 50

Active ingredient(s): SPF 30: Natural Zinc Oxide 22.5% (USP, Non-Nano, Non-Coated, Low-Lead) [for SPF 50: Zinc Oxide 24.5% (Non-Nano, Non-Coated) & Titanium Dioxide 6% (Non-Nano, Non-Coated)]

Other ingredients: Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil (Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride), Organic Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Organic Helianthus annuus (High Oleic Sunflower) Seed Oil, Wildcrafted Candelilla Wax, Organic Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu), Organic Argania spinosa (Argan) Oil, Natural Silica, Natural Theobroma grandiflorum (Cupuacu) Seed Butter, Organic Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Fruit Butter (Virgin Unrefined), Organic Mauritia flexuosa Fruit (Buriti) Oil, Natural Emu Oil (AEA Certified), Organic Rubus idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil, Organic Beeswax (Cera Alba), Natural Propolis, Natural Tocopherol (non-GMO, Soy, Vitamin E), Organic Fragrance Compound Oils, Natural Mica, Plankton Extract -Proprietary Marine Plankton Microalga, Organic Antioxidant / Rosemary, Wildcrafted Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka Essential Oil), Organic Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) Extract, Natural Iron Oxides, A Supportive Community and Love!

Antioxidants added: sunflower oil, red raspberry seed oil, Tocopherol…probably just about everything in there! ?

Where to purchase: Avasol

Ease of application: + As far as consistency, it rubs 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. Typically I only use sticks on faces because they are too time-intensive to get all over larger surfaces like arms and legs. However, my husband used it on his arms before I realized it, and to our surprise it rubbed in fine because it’s quite soft as sticks go. As long as you get the right shade, it practically disappears on the face. The “light” version is not the right shade for me and made me look a bit ghostly, but the tan was just right. I chose a “light” in SPF 50 for my fair-skinned husband and “tan” for me in SPF 30 (because the 30 has zinc only).

Scent: The scent of this brand is 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!).

Water resistant? It definitely lives up to its water resistant claims, which is 80 minutes, the maximum allowed. It beads up like crazy when swimming!

My experience: I was very impressed with the ingredients list of this brand and the fact that it came in a cardboard tube, no plastic at all. Even though I couldn’t get it on Amazon and it seemed a bit pricey, I wanted to try it so much that I bought a few tubes.

Star Feature: Heavenly scent, amazing texture, near-perfect ingredients, eco-friendly tube…need I go on?

My review: For adults in particular who don’t want to look ghostly, I think this is a great option. Avasol even offers multiple tints so that lighter or darker skin tones can find something that fits. I would like to see if it works for very dark, non-white ethnic skin tones in the “dark” shade. You can also choose SPF 30 or 50, and the 50 has almost the maximum allowed percentage of zinc oxide, as well as 6% titanium dioxide. I’m putting the SPF 30 in my top category, and the SPF 50 is in my second tier because of the titanium dioxide.

I must note that even the SPF 50 did not protect as well as the homemade Wholesome Home mineral skin protection in a side-by-side test. That probably says more about the Wholesome Home formula than Avasol. We also noticed that in a side-by-side test, we could not (ever) see any difference between the SPF 50 and 30 – which again probably says more about the 30 being powerful than the 50 being low-strength, since the difference in percentage protection between 30 and 50 is only supposed to be less than 2% as it is.

I had the great privilege of watching other ladies test this one out, and here are some of their thoughts:

  • One said it felt like it went on almost like baby powder, not slimy or greasy at all (you can guess her expectations by that comment!) and cried out to another, “You gotta try this!”
  • The next one was in awe that after a hike with it on her face, it didn’t feel greasy at all. She said she wanted to buy some right away (and she lives in Hawaii but isn’t native so definitely is a frequent sunscreen user!).
  • On some skin tones and in certain light, however, some ladies did notice a certain cloudiness to the sticks, which Carefree Naturals and Raw Elements did not show.

If I was choosing one stick to put in my OWN pocket for the day, this would probably be the one. I feel like a have an affinity for the brand – super eco-friendly packaging (even how they mailed the product!), fancy-dancy scent that must just be “my thing,” excellent ingredients and shades that look great on me. My only beef is that is IS an expensive investment, and I wish they didn’t have titanium dioxide in some sticks, but I can let that slide. I only need the SPF 30 myself, anyway.

Pros

  • Stick comes in various shades to match your coloring.
  • Heavenly scent
  • Eco-friendly packaging

Cons

  • SPF 50 has titanium dioxide

Very Good Options

very good mineral sunscreens

In this list, you’ll find lotions that aren’t as perfect as those in the top tier, but they’re pretty darn close. They only are missing ONE of the criteria for the TOP tier, so maybe they’re not registered with the FDA, or they are a little too white for many people’s liking, or they use titanium dioxide, my second favorite ingredient. The second tier might also have some minor consistency problems or some uncertainty about water resistance or burn protection. But only ONE of those issues!

Raw Love All-Natural Mineral Sunscreen
Overall
4.3
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Raw Love SPF 35 Mineral Sunscreen Review Price Range: $$$$$$$$

SPF: 35

EWG Rating: N/A

Where to buy: Raw Love site (get 10% off with code KS10), Amazon, some Whole Foods stores

Active ingredient: non-nano zinc oxide (22.5%)

Inactive ingredients: cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil, raw shea butter, sesame oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, Vitamin E oil, carrot seed oil, pure essential oils: lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus

Antioxidants added: Vitamin E, jojoba oil, sesame oil, carrot seed

Scent: Raw Love is a strong scent but extremely pleasant in my mind. The formula uses lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oils; so if you are familiar with those smells, you can imagine that it’s pure, crisp, and clean. However, note that some people are very sensitive to eucalyptus, and often peppermint and eucalyptus are too strong for little kids. So I wouldn’t recommend putting Raw Love on faces, and be cautious if anyone in your life may have an allergy.

Ease of Application: Raw Love is sold in metal tins, which are some of my favorite delivery systems for sunscreen. It’s easy to dip in your fingers and apply a good amount over a lot of skin, especially with kids who want to get done quickly. Raw Love rubs in well, I would say above average for a zinc-oxide based sunscreen.

Water Resistance: We often use this one at the beach and while swimming, and because there is beeswax in the ingredients, you will definitely see water bead up on your skin.

My Experience: We used Raw Love consistently throughout a summer of travel through the Southern United States. And although we often reached for the tin because it was so pleasant to apply, I am sad to share that it’s probably not as strong as some other brands. There were at least three times where we thought the side with Raw Love in our A/B testing burned slightly worse than the other side (our poor, Northern, white skin was no match for the sun of the South). I do think that Raw Love is a good sunscreen, and it definitely protected from the sun in many instances. However, I would not give it an SPF of 35 as compared to most of the brands we test, which are SPF 30. And quite a number of them beat Raw Love in our side-by-side testing.

Star Feature: There’s a lot to love about Raw Love including: plastic free, totally reef-safe, and goes on smoothly and smells dreamy.

My Review: I wouldn’t hesitate to use Raw Love in most circumstances, but if you really need an SPF you can trust consistently or if you are light-skinned and going to be out for quite some time or in the Southern sun, where the UVA and UVB rays are more intense, I would move up into my top tier and choose another brand. However, bottom line, kudos to Raw Love for doing a really great job with what’s available in Hawaii and for being so eco-conscious and gentle to marine life.

Don’t forget to use code KS10 to get 10% off at the Raw Love site!

Pros

  • Very clean ingredients
  • Reef-safe
  • Water resistant

Cons

  • Not the strongest protection

 

Kitchen Stewardship® readers get an exclusive 10% discount on Raw Love sunscreen with the code KS10!

Tropical Sands by Mexitan Chemical-Free, All-Natural Sunscreen
Overall
3.8
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Tropical Sands by Mexitan SunscreenUPDATE for 2022: Coral Safe, the company that makes this sunscreen, it currently in the process of becoming certified organic. This has caused a delay in production, and most of their products are out of stock. But they’re coming back!

Price Range: $$$$ 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!

EWG rating: 2 (SPF 50 rates a 1)

SPF: 30-50

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

Where to purchase: Mexitan, Amazon, other online retailers (***new label says “Tropical Sands” by Mexitan***)

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.

Pros

  • SPF 30 is highly effective and spreads easily
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Contains titanium dioxide
  • SPF 50 does not spread well, shows very white, and was not effective

Coral Safe reef-friendly sunscreen is THE most budget-friendly of all the sunscreens we’ve reviewed. It comes in big 8-ounce bottles!

Stream2Sea Original Sunscreen and Tinted Sunscreen
Overall
3.9
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$

EWG Rating: 3

SPF: 20 or 30

Active ingredient: 6.6% Titanium Dioxide (Non-Nano) [tinted SPF20]; 8.8% Titanium Dioxide (Non-Nano) [sport SPF30]

Other ingredients: Deionized Water, Aqueous Extracts of Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf*, Ocimum Tenuiflorum (Tulsi) Leaf*, Alaria Esculenta (Wakame Seaweed)* and Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Cocoglycerides, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Olivate, Methylcellulose, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Stearic Acid, Acrylates Copolymer, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Alumina, Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Sorbic Acid. * Certified Organic [sport SPF30]

Antioxidants added: vitamin E, aloe, green tea, and others

Where to purchase: Stream2Sea site, Amazon – Sport SPF 30, Tinted

Ease of application: +/-

Scent: light and clean, very understated

Water resistance: Rated for 80 minutes

My review: I’ve seen Stream2Sea on reef-safe lists and in scuba shops many times, so I was pleased to finally get a chance to test it out. Imagine my dismay when I flipped the tube over to see titanium dioxide only as the single ingredient. Titanium dioxide is less powerful as a broad-spectrum ingredient than zinc oxide, and it’s actually quite rare to see titanium dioxide only without zinc. One potential benefit is that if someone has an allergy or reaction to zinc oxide, this product would come with my highest recommendation. As it is, because there’s no zinc it can’t go in my top-recommended tier right off the bat. But let’s see how it performs.

I hit another disappointment immediately when we discovered that the white body lotion doesn’t really rub in any better than a zinc oxide cream. There’s a definite pasty, white cast all up and down the arm. The texture is nice and pleasant and not sticky. But visually, Stream2Sea leaves a lot to be desired.

Luckily, the tinted version fixes this right up. I felt the tint looked great on both of our complexions. Mine is more olive and my husband’s much more pink and Irish, French-Canadian white. For faces I would highly recommend the tint. And it looked okay on the arms as well.

We tested the original sport SPF 30 and the tinted in SPF 20. Both versions are available in 20 and 30.

While in Sedona, we put the Earth Mama stick on the right hand side of our faces and the Stream2Sea tinted on the left. We had no differences I could ascertain in tan and no burning. It’s kind of interesting that there were no differences though, because we had a good bit of sun and Stream2Sea is only 20 SPF, 6.6% titanium dioxide only. And Earth Mama is 22% zinc, SPF 40. It’s very curious that they showed no difference. I’m really surprised that such a low percentage titanium dioxide performed so well. Stream2Sea has definitely proven itself, both SPF 20 and 30. It performed well; it protects from burns.

We were putting it on out on the trail, not in the mirror. And when I got home, I did have a line of burn that I don’t believe I had the day before on the very top of my forehead, like right below the hairline, like less than a centimeter the whole way across. I think probably either I didn’t rub up that high, not wanting to hit my hair, or my hat maybe rubbed it off somehow. More likely the former than the latter, which would show that both of those sunscreens work really well.

Pros

  • effective against sunburn
  • neutral scent
  • tinted option rubs in well on different complexions

Cons

  • titanium dioxide only
  • non-tinted is pasty and white

Get 10% off at Stream2Sea with code kitchenstew!

CōTZ Lightly Tinted Face Moisture and Sensitive Non-Tinted Mineral Sunscreen
Overall
4.3
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$

SPF: 40

EWG Rating: 5

Active ingredient: Zinc oxide (16% in face moisture; 20% in sensitive)

Inactive ingredients: Face Moisture – Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride, Ceramide 3, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethiconol, Iron Oxide, Methicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer. Sensitive – C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethiconol, Disodium EDTA, Glycerin, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Microcrystalline Wax, PEG-10 Dimethicone, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Chloride, Stearyl Dimethicone, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethanolamine, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Water.

Antioxidants added: Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate)

Where to purchase: CōTZ website, Sensitive on Amazon, ULTA

Ease of Application: + This brand goes on very smoothly and probably has the best tinted version for children to use. In fact, my teenage son said, “Why aren’t all zinc sunscreens at least a little bit tinted so they rub in as well as this one?” I would put to this brand up there with Maelove as a great transition sunscreen. In other words, it is almost as smooth, quick, and easy to apply as conventional sunscreen. The only situation in which CōTZ completely fails is if you are already sweaty and at the beach in the sand. That was an untenable situation for my husband who absolutely could not get CōTZ to rub in at all. Most other sunscreens were a disaster in that situation as well, to be fair, and the tinted version did at least stand a fighting chance on my husband’s face.

Scent: CōTZ is mostly unscented and really not remarkable in how it smells.

Water Resistance: We have not had any trouble with CōTZ coming off in the water. Face Moisture is rated for 80 minutes and Sensitive for 40 minutes.

My Experience: This brand has become a favorite for many in the family. And it is one that my daughter grabs exclusively whenever she has the opportunity. She even recognized it after 6 months and said, “Ooh, that one’s my favorite!” We tested CōTZ quite extensively in many situations, and a number of times it definitely performed better than the other side in A-B testing. In fact, after a full day on the Florida beach, when every part of everyone got somewhere between badly singed and burned to a crisp, I did not get burned on my face, which had the tinted CōTZ on it, and my husband did not get burned on his arm, which had the white version. We call this a huge success.

Star Feature: This brand definitely rubs in so well that it’s exemplary and deserves a trophy in that category.

My Review: We at the Kimball household unequivocally recommend CōTZ, both tinted and white versions, for pretty much all situations, unless you’re already covered with sand. 🙂 We’ve found it to be extremely pleasant in every category. And most importantly, it works great! Just a note: this is a “lighter green” option due to the ingredient list.

Pros

  • Rubs in very well
  • Tinted version as well as white ones

Cons

  • Does not rub into sandy, sweaty skin
  • EWG rating of 5

CōTZ is a favorite of my daughter, Leah, and a great transition sunscreen for those new to mineral sunscreens!

Rubber Ducky/Carefree Naturals Sunscreen
Overall
4
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$$$$ (stick) $$$$ (tube) 

EWG rating: 2-3

SPF: varies – they offer both 30 & 50

Active ingredient(s): lotion SPF30 Zinc Oxide (Non nano) 22.75% [stick: Zinc Oxide (Non nano) 8.5%, Titanium Dioxide 7%]

Other ingredients: Sunflower oil, Cocoa butter, Candelilla wax, Organic yellow beeswax, mango butter, olive oil, shea butter, safflower oil, Vitamin E, Avocado Oil, Lavender oil, Comfrey extract, Chamomile extract, Sweet almond oil, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl undecylenate (natural preservatives) (SPF 30 lotion) Organic Beeswax, Comfrey Extract, Almond Oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Chamomile Extract, Aloe Vera Extract, Safflower Oil, Shea Butter, Lavender Oil, Mango Butter, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Sunflower Oil, Cocoa Butter, Candelilla Wax, Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Iron Oxide (stick)

Antioxidants added: Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), avocado oil, sunflower oil, etc.

Where to purchase: Amazon (tube), Rubber Ducky (only the stick)

2021 Update: The SPF50 tinted stick formulation is now also available in a metal tin! Rubber Ducky Sunscreen Review

Ease of application: +/- The SPF 50 goes on incredibly clear, and although there was some separation of oil over the winter so you do need to knead the tube well, it’s quite impressive how it rubs in. The SPF 30 rubs in ok but not as “clear” as advertised. Just rub in twice as long as you expect to need to and you’re all set! It definitely beads up, and I’m sure lives up to its 80-minute water resistance and longer.

Scent: earthy, pleasant, each variety varies

Water resistant? rated 80 minutes (highest allowed) but Australia allows testing to 8 hours – and they passed!

My experience: The SPF 30 lotion lasted throughout an entire day-long rafting trip with zero burns, and the way the water continued to bead up even after hours is amazing. The tinted cream is also impressive. We don’t usually use tinted sunscreen on our children because of clothing staining, but once we put this one on both of our younger boys, and I was very impressed by how perfect it looked! They have quite different skin tones, so that’s saying something, and my husband has yet another skin tone, very pale and pink, and it looked really good and natural on him too. Sometimes the poor man will put on one of our tints, such as the Raw Elements tin, and he looks like he’s wearing stage makeup.

Star Feature: The water resistance can’t be beat!!

My review: With this brand, you need to make sure to check the version and ingredients. Some only use zinc oxide, while others include titanium dioxide, but the brand also has some with chemical ingredients. I got to interview Steve from the company, self-proclaimed “the last of the suntan guys from the 80s,” and I do like his commitment to quality and his many years of experience in the sunscreen industry.

Carefree Naturals is the same maker as Rubber Ducky, but prettier packaging for spas. The ingredients are very clean and so the SPF 30 with only zinc oxide did receive my highest recommendation, but it can’t stay in that category simply because it’s too confusing to have so many undesirable varieties from the same brand.

My first experience with this lightly tinted stick (Carefree Naturals, but should be the same for Rubber Ducky) was that it was too thick to get on. I think it just needed some time to warm up, literally temperature wise and just getting a little bit of use first. My husband reported that it went on very smoothly and he liked it for his face. He did get a little pink that very first day in Florida, but he is so pale. It tanned out nicely and did not feel burnt one bit. I would not use this stick on the whole body, just the face, because it is very thick, but that also means it’s super easy to rub it in.

This brand is made for spas and high-class establishments, so the focus is on being good for your skin and classy. It smells fresh and light, a little bit earthy like wholesome home and fresh like Avasol, but not as spicy. 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. It remains in the second tier simply because of the titanium dioxide and rather low zinc oxide.

See for yourself in this video on Facebook demonstrating 8 of the sticks in this review!

Pros

  • Excellent water resistance
  • Packed with antioxidants and moisturizing oils
  • Tinted options

Cons

  • Some varieties have lower zinc oxide ratio and/or titanium dioxide
  • Brand has other, less natural varieties as well
  • Stick can be thick and harder to apply
Rubber Ducky zinc sunscreen

Rubber Ducky is one the most water-resistant sunscreens available and has a high percentage of zinc oxide! The SPF30 with just zinc gets my highest recommendation – just make sure that’s what you have!

Butterbean Organic: Original and Simply Healthy Sunscreen
Overall
4.1
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$ Butterbean Organics Sunscreen

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 30

Active ingredient(s): non-nano uncoated zinc oxide (22%)

Other ingredients: * Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Butyrospermum Parkii (Fair Trade Shea) Butter, ), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E), Polyhydroxystearic Acid *Certified Organic

Antioxidants added: coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, Vitamin E

Where to purchase: Butterbean (15% off with code Katie84133) or Amazon (tub)

Ease of application: + the tub is nice because it’s easy to keep dipping your fingers in. Cream is very thick and takes a bit to rub it in. After a few months in storage it was very thick, like fudge, and verging on gritty. UPDATE 2016: The new tub’s formula is very smooth and over-wintered wonderfully! I turn to it as a quick reapplication option because you can get a lot on a kid in a short amount of time.

Scent: neutral, kind of earthy

Water Resistant? Lab tested to 80 minutes (highest allowed)

My experience: This sunscreen is…okay. I wanted to love it because the ingredients are so great, but the texture is a little off-putting. It took a LOT to cover an adult’s body, so I feel like the tub wouldn’t last all that long. ???

We also tested the spray, which I believe is now sold as the pump called “simple formula.” It’s much much much thinner, almost too thin, although it was very easy to apply.

It still gets white when wet, such a strange feature. We had one minor burn with the spray after a few hours of swimming, but that may be because we didn’t use enough. Just because it’s thin doesn’t mean you should skimp!

UPDATE 2016: I got a sample of the new pump, which is easy to use and I noted that it’s super nice to give it to kids and know that they can’t GLOP it on, squirt too much out of the tube on accident or scoop a huge fingerful out of a tub. My husband burned slightly on his face with it but we realize that it may have been because he was swimming and wiped it off with his hands. I’m curious to experiment more with it this summer.

We also tested out the Sport Stick and we are huge fans. The cardboard tubing is so unique and eco-friendly. We keep it in our diaper bag and use it often on faces – it’s quick to apply! And honestly, because there are a few drawbacks to the pump and the tub, I kept going back and forth on whether to put Butterbean in the highest level or not. The stick definitely belongs there – let’s just say this brand is knocking on the door of top tier!

UPDATE 6/13/16: The 90-degree sun watching soccer was too much for our family this weekend! Everybody burned, no matter what we wore. 🙁 A note that the tub of Butterbean felt a little more white and greasy/shiny to my husband, but it did keep his arm less burned than the Raw Elements stick (which we are theorizing couldn’t get through his arm hair to his skin!). So what are we thinking about Butterbean in general? I want to test its effectiveness more, personally!

Star Feature: The ingredients speak for themselves, and the small company speaks to my WAHM heart.

Don’t forget to use code Katie84133 to get 15% off your order on the Butterbean site!

Pros

  • Great ingredients, mostly organic
  • Neutral scent
  • Sport Stick is top tier awesome!

Cons

  • Some difficulty in applying tub and pump formations
Use code Katie84133 to get 15% off on Butterbean Organics sunscreen!

Kabana Bali Bloc Sunscreen Sticks
Overall
4
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:


Price Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 30

Active ingredient(s): 25% non-nano zinc oxide

Other ingredients: Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Certified Organic Vanilla Extract, Certified Organic Beeswax [Vanilla stick]
Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Certified Organic Cocoa Powder, Certified Organic Beeswax [tinted stick]

Antioxidants added: coconut oil

Where to purchase: Kabana

Ease of application: – The consistency is rather awful, especially in warm conditions. It got too soft and was nearly impossible to get on nicely. I felt as if we needed to just use our finger as if it was in a tube anyway. The stick applied way too thick and would have been uncomfortable for an adult on the face. My boys didn’t care though, so they got to test it out. As far as transparency and rubbing in, it’s really just so-so. It takes quite a bit of rubbing to get it to be passable. And it’s possible that because of that, we ended up with some pink singeing using this product.

Scent: Kabana sticks are very yummy, basically smell like earthy ice cream. Don’t let a toddler try to eat them!

Water resistant? Rated up to 80 minutes

My experience: The version including cocoa powder in this stick looks like it will never work on the face at first glance. We all thought we would be the wrong color. But surprisingly, once rubbed in it seems to blend on most Caucasian facial complexions. There’s still a bit of a statuesque sheen, but if you’re going to use this stick on faces, I would highly recommend using the cocoa powder version, because the white one is really quite white. This stick is wider than an average stick, so it would be possible to use across the whole body.

If you just “dabba dabba” like sponge painting instead of trying to rub the stick up and down your arm, it actually works fairly well. I’m looking forward to continuing to test this product after a winter to see how it holds up. I think as long as you get enough on, you’ll be protected from the sun, but there is a risk with a stick of applying too little product.

Pros

  • tinted formula works
  • wide stick can be used for the whole body

Cons

  • too soft to apply in warm weather
  • untinted difficult to rub in, very thick

Too much to look through right now?

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 see it right away and find it again later!

Poofy Organics SPF 30 Sunscreen
Overall
4.3
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Poofy Organics natural sunscreen reviewPrice Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 30

Active ingredient(s): zinc oxide (20% on my tube), non nano

Antioxidants added: rosemary extract

Other ingredients: Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Beeswax, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Camellia Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Rosemary Extract

Where to purchase: Poofy online

Ease of application: +/- Very thick, doesn’t rub in great but ok

Scent: neutral

Water resistant? Yes

My experience: I gravitated toward Poofy on first tests because I wanted zinc and only zinc for our littlest one. We were happy with the results at the end of last summer and only had one kid who “toasted” a bit, but that was with a LOT of sun and the reapply was another brand so not so fair.

The big problem was after storing in the linen closet for 6 months, Poofy was very gritty/clumpy and super thick. I thought it would never rub in and be a total bust, but with some perseverance, it did rub in. Almost a deal breaker.

My review: I’m actually looking forward to testing out Poofy a little more, so I’ll basically say it’s probationally on the recommended list. The ingredients and commitment to quality from the company is excellent, but the texture is so thick I could barely get it out of the tube. It rubs in fine, has only zinc, and seems to work, so here it is. I hope it can stay!

Pros

  • Super clean ingredient list

Cons

  • Very hard to rub in
  • Did not over-winter well

Poofy Organics has some of the cleanest ingredients out there!

Relevé Organic Skincare Sun-Lite Sunscreen
Overall
4
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Sun Lite SunscreenPrice Range: $$$$$$$$

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 20

Active ingredient(s): zinc oxide (20%), non-nano

Other ingredients: Organic Aloe Vera Juice, Fresh Spring Water, Vegetable Wax, Organic Beeswax, Grapeseed Oil, Sunflower Seed Lecithin, Coconut Fatty Acids, Pine Bark Extract, Fermented Horseradish, Organic Grapefruit Extract.

Antioxidants added: grapeseed oil

Where to purchase: Emerald Essentials or Amazon

Ease of application: + very smooth! Spreads quite far!

Scent: neutral, pleasant. I think I can smell the slightest hint of citrus, which is maybe the grapefruit extract.

Water resistant? Not tested, but anything with beeswax gives me great hope!

My experience: I’m actually looking forward to testing this one further as the summer wears on (2016), because we only got a few tests in this spring. Relevé sort of flew under my radar because I was distracted by many of the other new ones needing my attention for weird ingredients or terrible consistency. My only note about Relevé? Rubbed in well. And that my 4yo didn’t love the smell, but it’s unscented, so take that with a grain of salt.

When I read and re-read the ingredients to make this update, I was so pleasantly surprised. They’re super clean, not an unpronounceable in sight. Then I visited the company’s website and discovered…

Star Feature: Emerald Essentials seems to be a company that takes health and the environment very seriously, so I’m tickled to have found them! I’ll be sure to update if the bottle falls flat as we move into summer, but for now, I’m cautiously putting this one as one of my very few top recommendations!

UPDATE 6/13/16: Relevé has still performed well as far as rubbing in fairly easily, but one thing I realized was that a 20SPF really isn’t quite the same as a 30SPF when you’re really going to be in the sun allllll day. Our whole family burned up with 3 long days in the sun this weekend 🙁 and although Relevé is definitely stronger than some others, it’s not quite as tough as Badger’s 30 SPF, for example. Still a good choice, but not for super fair skin stuck out in the sun all day!

Big thanks to Dawn of Reveal Natural Health for sending this one my way!

Pros

  • Great, clean ingredients
  • Spreads well

Cons

  • SPF 20 may not be high enough
Sun-Lite is the ONLY sunscreen with 100% hand-filleted, raw aloe vera.

Young Living Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
Overall
4.4
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$

SPF: 50

EWG Rating: not in database

Active ingredient: non-nano zinc oxide (22%)

Inactive ingredients: medium-chain triglycerides, yellow wax, castor oil, coco-caprylate/caprate, coconut oil, tocopherol, polyglyceryl-3 ricinoleate, sunflower oil, isotearic acid, helichrysum italicum flower oil, lavender oil, myrhh oil, labdanum oil, cananga oil, carrot seed oil, frankincense oil

Antioxidants added: Coconut oil; Lavender, Carrot Seed, and Frankincense Oils

Where to buy: Young Living, Don’t Waste the Crumbs,

Scent: Young Living has a nice, light, citrusy scent.

Ease of Application: + This lotion rubs in very smoothly, almost like a conventional lotion cream that you would rub into your hands. My only worry is that it’s a little tempting not to use enough because of that.

Water Resistance: I didn’t get to test this tube extensively enough in water, but one time with swimming included I did get some pretty bad burns. It is rated to 80 minutes by the FDA.

My Experience: Years ago, I tested Young Living’s lotion available at the time, which was only an SPF 10 and behaved like it. I’m much more happy with the zinc oxide concentration in this SPF 50. We definitely proved that it worked, because my husband missed a spot on his foot and completely got toasted with Young Living all around. So that’s good news.

Star Feature: This lotion definitely goes on smoothly but is a bit on the pricey side.

My Review: Young Living has done a nice job with formulating an SPF lotion that goes on very well. I might even use it as a daily SPF moisturizer on the face.

NOTE: Below is the review for the Young Living SPF 10 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. It is still produced, but we DON’T recommend it as shown in the review below.

Price: 2021 price estimate: $$$$

EWG rating: not in database

SPF: 10

Active ingredient(s): Zinc oxide (10.5%)

Other ingredients: grape seed, coconut oil, tapioca starch, octodyldecyl oleate, beeswax, hydrogenated vegetable oil, candelilla wax, cocoa butter, silica, tocopherol, jojoba oil, bisobilol, helichrysum italicum flower oil, lavendar oil, commiphora myrrha oil, cistus ladaniferus oil, picea mariana leaf oil, cananga oil, carrot seed oil, sunflower oil, calendula officinalis flower, matricaria chamomilla, boswellia sacra resin oil, raspberry seed oil, virola sebifera seed oil, mauritia flexuosa fruit oil.

Antioxidants added: Grape Seed, Coconut Oil, Cocoa Butter, Jojoba Oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil

Where to purchase: Young Living, Amazon

Ease of application: +

…but it doesn’t matter because 10SPF just isn’t enough!

I only had a tiny sample of this brand, so I wasn’t able to prolifically test it on the whole family like I do with most brands. My notes say it rubs on very nicely, but I also wonder how it will work if it comes in a tube. It’s a very thick consistency, and I’m guessing it will be very hard to get out of a tube after it is half gone. It is decidedly thicker than even the tin of Raw Elements, which would never work in a tube.

The lower SPF than most mineral sunscreens makes a huge difference. We saw at least two burns versus other brands, and considering we did not test it often, that is not a good report. I understand the YL just formulated a brand new SPF50 sunscreen with clean ingredients for 2018, but it’s not available to the public yet. (2021 UPDATE: Now available here.)

Water resistant? Rated for 80 minutes

Pros

  • Rubs in nicely
  • Citrus scent

Cons

  • A little tempting not to use enough
  • Higher price point

If you’re an essential oil enthusiast, you might love Young Living’s sunscreen, boosted with helichrysum, lavender, myrrh, labdanum, carrot seed, and frankincense oils.

DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30
Overall
3.8
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 1

SPF: 30

Active ingredient(s): zinc oxide (22.75%)

Other ingredients:  Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Propanediol, Isoamyl Cocoate, Glycerin, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters, Galactoarabinan, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Sodium Olivoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Hyaluronate,Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Apium Graveolens (Celery) Callus Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Prunus Domestica Seed Oil, Allantoin, Stearic Acid, Isostearic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate

*Certified Organic

Antioxidants added: Vitamin E, grapeseed extract, broccoli seed oil, linoleic acid, and more

Where to purchase: DeVita’s site, Lucky Vitamin

Ease of application: + goes on very smooth and clear

Scent: mild, pleasant

Water Resistant? not intended to be

My experience: We got this right at the end of the summer and I’m unwilling to put a sunscreen that isn’t supposed to be water resistant to the big tests at the pool on my kids – so this one didn’t get a lot of facetime, literally. BUT that’s the point.

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 actually think this brand would be a great choice, and I’d buy the larger size because the savings are immense!

2018 update: A friend was looking for something to put on his bald head for daily use, and I sent him to my daily facial moisturizer with SPF post. He tried out DeVita and let me know that it goes on great and is preventing burns, so I was happy to move this brand up from “the Jury is Out” to this category! Just remember that it isn’t appropriate for kids or the beach.

2020 update: DeVita reformulated this year, and we have not tested the new formula. It remains a 1 with the EWG.

Pros

  • Goes on smooth and clear
  • Great for a facial moisturizer or for use on bald heads!

Cons

  • Not meant as an all-body sunsceen
  • Uses micronized zinc oxide

Interested in sunscreens that make excellent facial moisturizers? I have a whole list of them!

Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Overall
3.3
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

Price Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 2

SPF: 30

Active ingredient(s): non-nano zinc oxide 19%

Other ingredients: 1,2-Hexanediol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire d’abeille, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Nonanoate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Fruit Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Fruit Extract, Coco-Caprylate, Decylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Isopropyl Myristate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isostearic Acid, Lecithin, Raphanus Sativus (Radish) Root Ferment Filtrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mimosa Tenuiflora (Mimosa) Bark Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Polyglyceryl-4 Diisostearate/Polyhydroxystearate/Sebacate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Silica, Sodium Chloride, Aqua/Water/Eau.

New formulation: Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Coco-Caprylate, Cetearyl Nonanoate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Polyglyceryl-4 Diisostearate/Polyhydroxystearate/Sebacate, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Magnesium Sulfate, Beeswax, Phenoxyethanol, Silica, Sodium Chloride, Isostearic Acid, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Decylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, 1,2-Hexanediol, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Fruit Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Eschscholzia Californica Leaf Cell Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mimosa Tenuiflora Bark Extract.

Antioxidants added: aloe

Where to purchase: Beautycounter

Ease of application: +

Water resistant? Rated for 40 minutes

My experience: 

2021 UPDATE: It’s been a number of years since the unmitigated disaster of my first experience with Beautycounter sunscreen. They have reformulated the product, and I had the opportunity to test it again thanks to Kelly the Kitchen Kop. Thank goodness Beautycounter seems to have made some good choices. Rather than being the side that burned the most in two different A-B tests, the Beautycounter side seems to burn less than another brand. It rubs in great and has a very nice consistency.

We tested Beautycounter during an all-day excursion at the lake one summer and two of my kids were definitely more pink on the opposing side. For my daughter, her shoulder that had Beautycounter applied was peeling a bit the next day. So it may not be perfect, but it’s better than many. On our second test with five hours in the lake, my boys got burned on their faces because they played so hard and wiped all the sunscreen off. That’s on me for forgetting to make them come out, dry off, and reapply. However, it’s possible that they burned less on the Beautycounter side. And they definitely didn’t burn at all on their arms during the same time span with the same sunscreens. Officially changing my recommendation for Beautycounter to a much more highly recommended position. I still don’t love the preservative phenoxyethanol. But other than that, Beautycounter seems to have fixed most of its problems.

In previous years I had turned down many, many offers of Beautycounter sunscreen reviews samples for 2 reasons: price and phenoxyethanol.

This brand is on the pricey side and, while not completely out of line, coupled with the ingredients not being as good as my top recommended, it didn’t make me happy.

Beautycounter’s ingredients are fairly clean, but I couldn’t say, “You could eat this if you got stranded on a desert island,” like I can about some of my favorites. Phenoxyethanol is rated a 4 at EWG but hasn’t been linked to many real health concerns. It’s just…why go there when there are already better options?

I decided to finally try a tube after reading the detailed FAQs BC provides. I would direct you specifically to those on petrochemicals, preservatives, phenoxyethanol, and dimethicone. Their commitment to detail impresses me.

When our tube arrived I became frustrated with it immediately because it didn’t even list all the ingredients on the tube itself. I feel like companies are trying to hide something when they don’t do that. I know we can find the ingredients, but why not just print them?

We flipped our opinions quickly because it rubs in incredibly well, even after it sits on the body for a bit, which can be a problem with mineral sunscreens.

Schizophrenic day continued after a few hours at the pool, however. In every side-by-side test, at least four people, Beautycounter allowed burns. I am not sure I’ve ever seen such a widespread failure. It failed on my husband’s face, and my mom’s shoulders burned like crazy even with raw elements stick on her face yielded absolutely no pink at all. Two other members of our extended family were only out half a day and also burned on their backs with Beautycounter, while other brands protected even their faces and tops of bald heads. I was so dismayed that I hid this tube from the family, never to use it again.

Pros

  • Rubs in very well

Cons

  • Contains phenoxyethanol

Beautycounter has significantly improved their formula, and I’m happy to have them as a recommended brand now!

Babo Botanicals Super Shield Sport Stick SPF 50
Overall
4.3
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness

Details:

babo sport stick spf 50 natural sunscreenSee here for more – Babo has other products that didn’t fare so well, but I’d put the SPF 50 stick rated pretty well. 🙂

Price Range: $$$$

EWG rating: 5 (but no individual ingredients are rated over a 2…???)

SPF: 50

Active ingredient(s): Non-nano Zinc Oxide 17.0%

Other ingredients: Beeswax, Bisabolol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Calophyllum Tacamahaca Seed Oil, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Jojoba Esters, Octyldodecyl Olivate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Oryzanol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Tocopherol. Certified Organic Ingredients

Antioxidants added: avocado oil, cocoa seed butter, tocopherol

Where to purchase: Amazon {2 pack is a much better deal!}, Babo Botanicals site 

Ease of application: + goes on even clearer than most sticks, very easy to use

Scent: neutral, a bit of cocoa butter scent

Water Resistant? rated to 80 minutes

My experience: This stick was grabbed often and made me feel an affinity for the brand, even though their other products (cream, spray) aren’t perfect. Even their other stick wintered terribly, but this one has been a winner if you’re willing to shop specifics.

As sticks go, it’s average for efficacy. However, compared to a great cream (in this case Tropical Sands 30), it did allow a burn. One high-school-aged reviewer said it felt so weird to put on, like she was putting deodorant on her face. I’ll be glad my kids are just used to these when they’re in those tender teenage years! That teenager only applied sunscreen to her face, and her shoulders burned right up, FYI!

See for yourself in this video on Facebook demonstrating 8 of the sticks in this review!

Pros

  • Goes on clearer than most sticks
  • Easy for kids to apply by themselves

Cons

  • Average efficacy
  • EWG rating is 4

Wondering About A Brand You Don’t See Here?

My family has tested over 100 mineral sunscreens, but the brands here are only the ones we highly recommend. Read the rest of the reviews for the brands and formulas we don’t recommend or that have been discontinued.

What Else to Look For

I certainly didn’t test every safe, natural product out there. There are a few others on my list that I have tested yet, and I notice that some are sold in normal retail stores that are pretty safe, including one I picked up a few years ago thinking it might sound “safer” without even knowing what I was doing! You can always check the Cosmetic Safety Database at EWG to get the lowdown on any ingredients in just about every personal product in the world.

If you appreciated the information in this post, please take a moment to pass it on to others by emailing, tweeting, or sharing on Facebook. I appreciate the compliment when you value my work!

How Did All This Sunscreen Testing Come About?

Right?! How does one family test over 100 different tubes, bottles, sticks and tins of sunscreen??

For the first few years I was reviewing mineral sunscreens, every product I reviewed was received from one of the companies without charge.

However, they cannot and did not expect a positive review, just an honest one (which is, of course, what I’m here to provide). Some companies provided products for giveaways as well, along with an advertising fee. They still didn’t get special treatment in the review, which is just for you, my readers. After a few years, I started purchasing reader recommendations even though I didn’t exactly need more new sunscreens, ahem.

The reviews here are the result of literally hundreds of hours of testing, recording, researching, and composing, as well as price checking and updating year after year. My team and I are proud of the resource and hope it is helpful for you!

For more about sun protection, see my sun protective clothing review. I update these reviews every year, so be sure to subscribe to get notified about new post updates. You can also follow Kitchen Stewardship® on Facebook to keep updated on all the sunny goings-on here.

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

103 thoughts on “Natural Sunscreen Review 2022: The Best Natural Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (Better than EWG!)”

  1. I bought Sol Kid Care, per this article and we’ve been using it over the past few days in the sun and pool (record high heats here in AL, my car thermometer said 98 yesterday!). So far no burns! 🙂 We do protective clothing, hats, sunglasses too! All worked together to keep us protected!

    1. I might add that last year we used Jason Sunbrellas (I don’t think you reviewed it because you got the wrong kind?) and really liked it too! But I think I like the Sol Kid Care better!

    2. Crystal,
      Thank you SO much for coming back to add your review, and I’m happy (relieved) to know it’s doing well for your family. 🙂 Katie

      1. The Jason product that we used last year was the Sunbrellas SPF 30, with a EWG rating of 2. It is a great product as well and pretty comparable in pricing, but I think that the Sol Kids went on much smoother and smelled nicer. Thanks for all of your research! I shared this on FB!

  2. Katie, thanks so much for all the time you put in to this. This information is so helpful as I try to pick a good sunscreen for my family this summer!

  3. hi~ i have a question
    are they wash off well??
    i don’t want to use cleansing
    oil
    because i have a acne skin
    i live in korea so i can’t use lucktvitimin

    1. They all act a little differently, really. You wouldn’t need a special oil or cleanser, but for some of the creams, a little soap doesn’t hurt. Good luck!

      1. but some of the creams
        do i need a cleansing oil or cleansing form??
        oh i’m korean so i can’t english well ..
        in korea most of water proof or water resistance sun block
        need a double cleansing
        first cleansing oil or soap
        second cleansing form

  4. Jennifer Pritchett

    I would suggest trying Goddess Garden Sunscreen. It is the best that I have found out there. www.GoddessGarden.com
    I love this stuff!!

  5. Green screen has a lot of good things in it, but they’ve done a pretty tricky, underhanded thing with their label.
    Considering Badger Balm’s completely organic ingredients, and ESPECIALLY since they reformulated to include non-nano, non-micronized Zinc Oxide, it is hands-down the best sunscreen in the entire industry.

    1. Laura,
      Wow, that’s a new one on me. Certainly a lot of research to be done in every aspect of green living, isn’t there? I’ll see if the creator of the green screen can comment on this. Thanks for your insight – Katie

      1. So out of Mexitan and Kabana what is the best sunblock for oily skin with acne issues. That all seem heavy.

        Can you buy a waterbased sunblock (spray) that will not hurt acne skin?

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Brenda,
          Kabana is very thick; Mexitan is quite thin. I don’t know about actual effect on acne, but we didn’t really experience breakouts on the skin with ether (and mine would if it was nasty stuff). I don’t think there are any aerosol sprays with natural ingredients. Hope that helps!
          🙂 Katie

    2. Unfortunately there exists quite a bit of misinformation on the web about “emulsifying wax” which often gets extrapolated to apply to all emulsifying waxes, many of which are proprietary blends that contains innumerable chemicals, often with potential exposure issues. The link cited and information presented that describes vegetable emusifying wax NF, which is used in Green Screen, is INACCURATE. The NF stands for National Formulary, which stipulates and standardizes the compounds that can be present in the formula, namely the cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60, ONLY, not the PEG or steareths that clearly have dermal exposure issues and rate in with higher risk factors. Our use of the term ‘vegetable emulsifying wax’ in the ingredient list was not intended to be misleading but reflected the best description available at the time of tube production, which requires 10,000s of units to be made at a time. Clearly times change, consumer education increases and people have higher expectations, which is very good to see. We’ll be updating this in the next iteration.

      We use the vegetable emulsifying wax NF because it’s currently the safest way to create a non-greasy emulsion (cream) that provides a matte finish vs. a greasy one as do many competing products. Currently there are no certified organic emulsifiers available. We may be switching this ingredient in the future for beeswax, however choosing this ingredient precludes our vegan status and opens the possibility of immunological sensitivity. Sunflower lecithin has also been investigated but hasn’t proven adequately stable.

      Regarding the Badger formulas – a problem with using essential oils and extracts is that there are many individual chemicals in these oils that a) can artificially boost SPF due to the presence of UV-active compounds but that are not FDA approved for sunscreen use and b) actually increase oxidative free radical damage in the skin because these various chemicals are not UV-stable and breakdown after high energy UV absorption. Green Screen contains NO essential oils or questionable extracts for this reason.

      Keep in mind that any naturally sourced ingredient is inherently complex chemistry, whether it’s shea butter or lavender essential oil, and will contain thousands of chemicals that are not listed in the ingredient list.

      1. Erik,
        I love it when real scientists talk science! Thank you so much for answering; just confirms my choice that Kabana is worth the purchase and one of my top choices, especially for babies – who might have sensitivities to the oils and such you mentioned.
        🙂 Katie

      2. The problem, in my mind though, is that you’re replacing those essential oils and extracts with not-so-natural stuff. I have NO problem spreading the products of God’s green earth on my skin. It’s more natural, and that’s my litmus test for everything. Vegetable emulsifying wax, which is something you must use because you don’t use beeswax, is not natural. This is one problem that sometimes crops up with veganism. Rather than using the natural thing, the beeswax, you’re forced to use a chemical substitute. I’m trying to find a sunscreen WITHOUT chemicals, not just different ones!

        1. I hear what you are saying, however would like to point out that the most toxic and mutagenic chemicals on the planet are 100% natural ones. Just because something is natural, does not mean it’s good for you or harmless. There are numerous highly toxic chemicals present in many common essential oils.
          Nor is there such a thing as chemical-free anything, because everything in the universe is made from chemicals, you, me, the earth, everything. Essential oils in sunscreens are inadvisable because the chemistries present in these ingredients are not UV stable and will cause more oxidative damage to skin, which a good sunscreen seeks to prevent. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
          The best option to avoid UV damage is to stay in the shade. I’m a big fan of shade and recommend it over sunscreen.

  6. My favorite natural sunblock/screen is coconut oil! I do warn that it can get hair greasy, but we use it at the lake, when on vacation, sports and summertime when the kids are hanging out at the pool most of the day.

    When using it at Disneyland one hot week, the only one who got a burn with coconut oil was the toddler in the stroller with her legs out in front of her. I apparently didn’t apply it quite enough for her, but the burn was very mild and was gone the next day.

    I love it! If used, instead of forgetting it, we fair-skinned ones don’t burn and I grew up with a constant blisters on shoulders and peeling nose during the hot months.

    1. Cheryl,
      I also tried some coconut oil last summer, but I have to admit I wasn’t comfortable allowing my fair-skinned children to use it exclusively, since the SPF is only somewhere between a 4 and 8. If we weren’t in midday or constant sun, yes, but not for the beach or pool at noon. That’s just me being nervous about burns, though. Thanks! 🙂 Katie

  7. Hi,
    I researched mineral based sunBLOCKS extensively 3yrs ago when my very white self and family (3 small kids and new baby) moved to Hawaii. Previously living in New York, Alaska and Chicago we never used sunscreen so as to get essential Vitamin D. But for intense sun all day we needed something to keep from frying. I went with Mexitan because not only is it safe for us but for the fish and reef as well. Also the price is a HUGE selling point for me. You listed the price at over $2/oz and it is $2.13/oz when you buy an 8oz. bottle, but if you buy it in bulk (and this is the ONLY brand I could find even after using your list that sells a giant bottle) it is only $1.40/oz on the mexitan.com website if you get the half gallon 30SPF. Now I know that sounds like a lot of sunscreen, but it only lasted us 6 months and we didn’t use it every time we went out. Having that much available (and at that price) made it very easy to share with the rest of our group at the beach or tons of kids in the yard. Of course someone with a shorter beach season could split it with another green mama or it would be perfect for a church or daycare. It worked very well for us with only one application (we never remembered #2). In the Hawaiian sun it allowed some light pinking on my very white skin at first until I built up a little tan which I actually appreciated. Eventually it separated in the bottle after many months, but still worked. It did leave a white film at first but once I got the hang of putting it on, it was only slightly noticeable up close. This is probably standard but it does dry quickly so only put a small amount on your hand and smoothly and evenly apply all that before getting more. Also, just smooth it on evenly don’t try to rub it in too much or it seems to clump up like bits of lint. I think that probably goes for most mineral based non-chemical sunblocks and just has a small learning curve but it is well worth it. Other than Mexitan the only other one I tried was the Blue Lizard (while I waited for my Mexitan to ship – FREE shipping). I liked the bottle but wasn’t thrilled with the product.

    1. Now THAT is a great bulk deal – thank you for sharing! We used Mexitan last week in Florida and I was VERY pleased with its performance. Good to hear another momma researcher come to that conclusion as well! 🙂 Katie

        1. I also just ordered and received Mexitan (now the product is called Tropical Sands on the bottle) SPF 30 in the gallon bottle. We have a family of 5 and lots of cousins, friends, etc. that come over so figured we’d use it. Also ordered two of the 8 oz bottles to carry with us that we can refill. So far, I’m still getting the hang of applying it, but it seems to work great. Only caveat is you have to be sure that if, like me, you have a baby (mine is 9 mos) be sure you get it spread and dried before they wiggle and wriggle it all off. I’ve found it’s best to apply while my little guy is sitting in a stroller or high chair and then wait till it dries so he doesn’t rub it off while crawling around. Thanks so much for your research. EWG is great, but I’ve always wanted to really try the different products, so I’m living vicariously through you.

          One final note is I LOVE California Baby — it’s my all-time favorite for protection, smell, ease of spreading, how it looks when applied and safety. However, I decided I can no longer buy 2 oz. bottles for $15 or more now that I’ve moved back South and am taking the kids to the pool every day. Bulk for cheaper is hugely key for me.

  8. Has anyone tried KidsUV Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – Pink

    They sell it at Target.com and it runs a little over $2 an ounce.

    1. Michelle,
      That’s not one I’ve heard of, but I’m definitely curious to read the ingredients. There are more and more quality mineral sunblocks coming out all the time now! 🙂 Katie

  9. I just have to say, you are the most thorough mom researcher I have ever “met.” I love coming to your blog because I can always count on you answering the questions floating around in my brain in detail. Perfect timing with this article. Many thanks!

  10. Just went back and read this, thanks so much! My current challenge is that I am looking for a reasonably natural moisturizer with some SPF protection without the whiteness and heaviness that seems to come with most mineral sunblocks. I am out in the Phoenix sun all day and my doctor just recommended that I use something with an SPF on my hands, arms and face. Given my level of sun exposure (and the fact that long sleeves aren’t an option when its 110*F outside), I’m inclined to agree with her but I’m having trouble finding something that fits my requirements (light, rubs in easily, no white coating, no sunscreen smell), isn’t horribly expensive and isn’t overly toxic.

    1. Stacy,
      Some of the “regular” lotions from Annarres Natural Health are supposed to be low SPF, maybe 4 or 12 or so? My husband likes the Mexitan because it goes on really smoothly, even in his buzzed hair, without a white residue. Hopefully you find something that works for you! Also watch MadeOn Lotion http://www.hardlotion.com/ because I think she’s coming out with a light sunscreen, too. Good luck! 🙂 Katie

    2. I know it’s a bit expensive, but I had been using the Sanre Organics supple sunshine moisturizer with SPF. It’s rated highly. It **is** rather expensive, but it lasts a long time and if you apply it over toner it spreads well. I didn’t notice any whiteness. I’ve run out & reordered.

  11. Thanks for the article! I have been searching for a natural sunscreen that won’t turn my caramel brown skin ghostly white and your reviews have been very helpful 🙂

    1. I’ve been able to find fairly large tubes of it at my local drug stores .. in this case, I think it was Rite-Aid.

  12. I read your reviews a while back but actually had an opportunity to do a little testing of my own. We had previously tried Burt’s Bees and found it very difficult to spread and kinda flaky.
    On our recent vacation in Hawaii I took a bottle of Perfect for the Sol, SPF 25, that I had purchased online from Chinaberry (books). I was very pleased with their research and commitment to healthy products with no nano technology.
    It seemed to work fine but I actually gave it to my daughter-in-law to use on my newest grandson… definitely want to be choosy for baby skin!
    What we replaced it with was Beyond Coastal, Kids SPF 30, that we found at the local health food store in Kailua.
    I was very pleased with how it spread, smelled and worked on my crew, including my 16 yo daughter who is fair and freckled. She actually got a lovely tan, which she has never accomplished before (well we do live in Alaska!) with only a couple instances of turning a bit pink.
    One thing I learned about mineral sunscreens: you definitely want to avoid trying to spread in direct sun because it dries on contact and is impossible to spread!
    My second piece of advice is to apply with damp hands or to damp skin. Spreads so much more evenly and smoothly.
    I tried to maintain a basic schedule of staying out of the midday sun, 11-3, as often as possible. Everyone used hats and rash guard shirts for at least part of the time if they WERE out in the strong sun.
    All in all we ended up with nice tans, minimal burning and had a LOT of play time on the beach and in the water.
    I hope I stored up a little reserve of vitamin D too for my return to the north!

  13. Did you test, or do you have particular thoughts on face lotions with sunscreen? I’m notoriously forgetful for putting sunscreen on, and I become dreadfully burnt after only a tiny bit outside (living at 7,000 doesn’t help matters). Like you, I prefer mineral sunscreens, but I’m unfamiliar with a face lotion with sunscreen. Did you stumble across any in your research?

    Thanks, by the way, for your helpful response to getting the sunscreen off 🙂 We’re using Dr. Bronner’s, and that’s working well. Once we run out, we’ll search for the castille soap you recommended 🙂

    1. Sarah-Anne,
      I didn’t specifically test face lotions, although Suntegrity (above) is a facial moisturizer. I only reviewed it poorly b/c of the high price, but for a facial item, it’s probably more in line with average. Sunsibelle also is for use on the face.

      I bet facial moisturizers would have trouble using minerals b/c of the somewhat white sheen you often end up with.
      The Annares lotions with coconut oil (natural SPT 4-15) might be another good option for a daily moisturizer.
      🙂 Katie

  14. I make our own sunscreen and have been for almost a year. We live in S. Florida and haven’t ever had a burn. Just mix 25% (by volume) zinc oxide into your favorite lotion (I make that, too). It isn’t as waterproof as some chemical sunscreens, but because it is so cheap to make I don’t mind reapplying 🙂

  15. I agree that sun protective clothing is wonderful! I much prefer it to rubbing sunscreen on my wiggly girls (ages 1 & 3). 🙂

    For sunscreen, we’ve been using Episencial’s Sunny Sunscreen. Have you tried it?

    1. Stephanie,
      I hadn’t heard of that one until after my review, when someone on Facebook mentioned it. It’s good to know there are so many good options!
      🙂 Katie

  16. Too bad you got the wrong Jason product! We love Jason Sunbrellas Mineral Based Physical Sunblock! I use it on our whole family (2 boys age 2 and 4) and we’ve never had a sun burn! It’s fairly inexpensive (compared to others) as well and that was key when I was looking at mineral based products.

  17. Pingback: Finer Things Friday: Summer Bliss

  18. Pingback: great sites of the week 7.29 « Parent Planet

  19. Hello! Just read your thorough report on sunscreens and sunblocks!

    I also tried Annares Natural sunblock, and it was the only sunblock I took with me on a week-long trip to Mexico. While the texture was indeed not as soft and creamy and I’d have liked, I found it to be perfectly effective. So, that’s weird that you actually *burnt* on the side of your body that had it, and didn’t burn on your naked side! – I might suggest a re-test.

    Thanks for this review!
    Dee

    1. Dee,
      I did a retest, and I’m starting to think it’s simply not water resistant at all, and I just washed it right off within 10 minutes of hitting the beach. ??
      Thanks for chiming in!
      🙂 Katie

  20. Thanks for doing all this hard work. I have two different mineral sunblocks and both of them float right off my son when he’s in the pool. I just thought that was how mineral sunblocks are. It’s good to know there are some that are actually waterproof. I’ll have to remember this for next year. These are just too expensive to throw away for one that might work better.

  21. Super helpful! I’ve had an eye out for this since hubby spends so much time in the sun. Which would you recommend the most for someone like him? Runs around all day and sweats a lot but has to wear a white uniform so he can’t have something that will stain easily. Also works in a service-type industry so he can’t look like he’s wearing a white mask 🙂

    1. Anne,
      *grin* You’re right, Casper shouldn’t teach tennis. I don’t think the zinc oxide will stain white clothing, just dark stuff, and only if you’re careless when applying.

      That said, the ones I liked that don’t look too white include: Mexitan, Sol Kid, TruKid, Kabana tinted, and Melansol, and Alba Botanica (Mineral!). I am updating the post about Badger, as it really does make you look kind of purple… 🙂 Hope that helps!
      🙂 Katie

  22. Thanks so much for putting in the time for the rest of us! I burn extremely easy and while I avoid spending excess time in the sun often vacations involve sun and the beach. I have switched to natural bug spray but haven’t switched to natural sun screen because of my fear of burning!
    Thanks, thanks, thanks!

  23. Melissa Stottmann

    Thanks for this great article! Bought some TruKid for the whole family <3 vacation in a bit under 3 weeks :)!!!

  24. What a great post! We love Burts Bees and Badger (w/insect repellent). Both stay on so much better and protect so much better than any “conventional” sunscreen! I was really surprised, I have been happier with those than any other I’ve used, and I expected going natural to be a compromise! Thanks for the post and the giveaways! I look forward to trying some of the others you mentioned!

    1. Dawn,
      I checked out my friend’s Burt’s Bees this week, and it has some ingredient that was no good in it, but I can’t remember which one now. It’s a 5 at EWG, just FYI.
      🙂 Katie

  25. My experience has been similar to yours, when I became a parent 7 years ago, I diligently applied sunscreen to my babies – even before their twice-a-week preschool. It was just this last year that I started taking a look at what was in the sunscreens and thinking about how long we could play without the sunscreen. We are fair skinned and have skin cancer in the family. I have been putting my 3 oldest in Coolibar swim clothing since they can remember. They ask me “why do some people swim naked?” (Meaning, without a shirt!)

    This summer I have only used sunscreen if we are going to be in direct sunlight for longer than 30 minutes. We generally play early in the morning, so this isn’t an issue. We have used Soleo Organics all summer and it is great. We can play in the pool all day with one re-application and have had no sunburns.

    Thanks for road testing the others. I didn’t know about the spray with the 3 rating, I will be getting that for my bag. Love this series, thanks for your hard work!

  26. Great information if you have to use a sunblock. However the complex chemical factories that are our bodies need some sunlight to absorb and manufacture all of the various types of vitamin D (and sunlight has other benefits as well). While it is not good to sunburn sunlight is essential to our health.

    Check out the last two posts on Dr Michael Eades blog. http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/.

  27. Thank you so much for this post!!!

    How do you succeed in washing OFF the mineral sunscreens? Especially on your little ones faces? We’ve used California Baby, and one reason we aren’t a huge fan is it repels water so well, and is so noticeable. Even after bathing, sometimes we can still see it a day (or two) later…

    Again, your attention to detail is appreciated and thank you for doing all of this research!

    1. Sarah-Anne,
      You’d think that attention to detail would have extended to the clean-up, but either my kids somehow get it off during the day by rubbing their faces, or I just don’t notice it at night. Whoops! I have no idea how I get it off! We do have some nice castille soap based stuff that I would use on a face if I had to get the sunblock off with soap. It’s from Keys Soap, but I wonder if just castille would do it as well. Sorry ’bout that bad answer!
      🙂 Katie

      1. Katie, do you mean regular facial cleansers and body washes and body soaps in the shower will not get mineral sunscreens off?

  28. We don’t use sunscreen. I don’t put any on my young sons. None of us has burned.

    If you eat alot of healthy fats, you’re not going to burn.

    And why would anyone want to use sunscreen? How the heck are you suppose to get your Vitamin D?

    BTW, we live in Colorado – a mile closer to the sun.

    1. Tina,
      Because sunburns hurt.

      We eat a lot of healthy fats, but apparently not “enough” to prevent burns after 6 hours in the sun, even me with my olive complexion. I’ll take my Vitamin D for part of the day and use sunblock at the beach when I’m there all day. Everyone needs something to fall back on.
      Katie

      1. Maybe the difference is that we are on the GAPS diet.

        We spent a weekend in the mountains (Winter Park) and swam in the pool and still no sunburn.

        I grew up in Michigan and remember getting burned a little there but the MI sun is no where near the intensity of the CO sun.

        We do eat loads of fats as is essential on GAPS.

    2. Because 1 in 5 people will get skin cancer and if you want to look good and younger, sunscreen is very important.

  29. Wow! Thanks so much!
    I bought some Cocoon Organic Baby sunblock that I like quite a bit, but I can’t find it on skin deep. I mostly bought it because it was one with mineral based ingredients that my grocery store had. But I’m quite happy with it. It smells yummy and gingery. It felt expensive at the time, but looking at some of these others I think I got off lightly. I also just made the same mistake with the Jason brand and bought the 45 spf that is chemical and mineral based. Dang it! I wish I had read this first. My main problem with some of these is that I tend to be sensitive to some scents (especially floral), so I want to be able to sniff before I buy. I really appreciate that you included that info in your reviews.
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Is Walking a Father’s Day Present =-.

  30. http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2010/07/sunlight-myth-why-sun-is-your-friend.html

    You don’t need sunscreen!

    1. DD,
      I read the entire post, and at the end it says “just don’t get sunburned.” That’s exactly why one needs a good sunscreen as a backup for when you’re really going to be out all day! I don’t advocate sunscreen all the time, every day, but when you are going to get burned without it – ouch. I want to have some available!
      🙂 Katie

      1. I do recommend it daily for the face because of incidental sun through car windows, other windows and every time outside of course to prevent and postpone discolorations, wrinkles and aging of the skin and neck. As a skincare consultant with beauticontrol our am moisturizers have spf plus we have a vitamin c cream with spf. Your skin will thank you when you are 40 50 60 and beyond and look 10 years younger. My clients who have summer homes, cottages, golf or boat look so much older and are covered with age spots on hands and face. So important to wear a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen and limit exposure 11-3 pm.

    2. “dd // Jul 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm

      http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2010/07/sunlight-myth-why-sun-is-your-friend.html

      You don’t need sunscreen!”…. this has to be the most irresponsible post i have read online in a long long time.

  31. Great post!

    I found Mexitan 2 years ago and have loved using that when we need to use sunblock. I still have quite a bit left from when I ordered it two years ago (we don’t use sunblock often). Does mineral sunblock have an expiration date? I haven’t been able to find one on the bottle. It still looks and smells like it did when I bought it, so I’m assuming it’s OK.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..GratiTuesday – God gave us a Suburban! =-.

    1. Beth,
      I’ve kind of wondered about expiration dates, too. Maybe I’ll ask one of the retailers or companies for you and get back! 🙂 Katie

    2. Beth,
      Told you all I loved Kabana’s info-driven site and founder. This is from Erik, the boss at Kabana:
      “Per FDA requirements all sunscreens should have an expiration date, however since FDA is concerned about sunscreen effectiveness and the fact that mineral sunscreens don’t degrade, as long as a user can spread the mineral (zinc oxide preferably) on the skin, the sunscreen will be effective. Other components in the formula may go rancid, but to date I haven’t seen this occur with Green Screen. We fortify the formula against oxidation (rancidity) with vitamin e.

      The issue with the petrochemical sunscreens is that they do indeed degrade with time, heat and sunlight exposure, so after a while they are no longer effective sunscreen active ingredients, which is the original concept behind expiration dates on sunscreens. Ours has a two year out date stamped into the seal.”

      Sounds like unless it’s all gunky and gross, it still works! For me, that’s one more HUGE reason to go mineral, b/c I’m always wondering about the effectiveness of last year’s bottle…or two years ago…and balancing that with the cost savings of not throwing things away. I’m so glad you asked this question so that I could find the answer! 🙂 Katie

  32. Christina @ Spoonfed

    Excellent post, Katie. We’ve used (and loved) Badger for a couple of years at least, and have never been bothered by the smell. But for those who are, I wanted to mention that just yesterday I saw that Badger is now offering an unscented variety.
    .-= Christina @ Spoonfed´s last blog ..My kind of carnival- Healthy kids No fried dough =-.

  33. Wow you did alot of work! This is helpful and I’ll refer back to it for sure. I purchase sunscreen from Dr. Ben Kim’s website and next time I plan to try Dr. Mercola’s. I have used California Baby’s products before and liked them.

  34. Katie, this is such a perfect post, I had to point people here on my own blog (: thanks for the details.

    We use Trukid here and really like it.
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..What we put on our bodies is so important =-.

  35. Pingback: babeigotanidea.com » Blog Archive » PS to what we put on our bodies

  36. Wow I’m so glad Jo-Lynne steered me this way! I wish I knew about this 4 days ago before I ordered my sunblock! Still, I have to say I am happy with the Dr T’s Supergoop Spray I got – I specifically wanted spray. It rubs in nicely and has an EWC rating or 3. (Their stick has a 1 rating so I’ll get that one, too.)

    I’ve used two brands that have ZO2 but the white finish they leave is just too much for my preference on anyone who is not the palest of white, which we are not.

    Thanks for your hard work! Awesome!
    .-= Grace´s last blog ..Fly =-.

    1. Grace,
      It’s great to know there’s a spray rated fairly safe! A lot of people ask about that, so I’ll make a note of it in the post. Thank you!
      🙂 Katie

      1. Just wanted to clarify that it’s a spray, but still needs to be rubbed in. But it’s a nice light consistency; not goopy, despite the name! 🙂
        .-= Grace´s last blog ..Fly =-.

  37. Katie – GREAT JOB! I am obsessed with sunscreen research. I am wondering if you gave AquaSport by All Terrain SPF 30 a try? It got a 2 on the EWG list, smells great, works well…I bought a few bottles…what are your thoughts?

    1. Jennie,
      I hadn’t heard of that one! For some reason I must have copied a shortened list from EWG when I started my search, because I definitely missed some. I think I’m ok with that, though! It’s good to have the comments here at this post to give even more great options for people.
      🙂 Katie

  38. Thank you for a great post! After watching a CNN special on toxins and children, my DH and I have decided to go with a “friendly” sunscreen for the children. We bought Badger and thought I was a little pricey but you really don’t need to use that much. So far it has been working great and noticed that the water beading on my kids’ skin.

  39. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    Thanks for reviewing all of these Katie! It is a great post too refer to. I haven’t bought sunscreen at all this season. Although I do have fair skin, I haven’t been burning as much as I used to. But I always wanted to have sunblock as a backup, now I know what to look for! Thank you!
    .-= Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen´s last blog ..Lacto-Fermented Pickles w- Garlic Scapes =-.

  40. Thank you so much!! Great reviews and a great resource!
    .-= Angie´s last blog ..Time saving tip for tomato sauce =-.

  41. Wow, what a huge, informative post! It took a while, but I read the entire thing. Definitely coming back here next time I need to buy a sunscreen.

  42. Thank you so much for this sunscreen review. I’ve had two instances of skin cancer (basal cell) and am extremely fair. I joke about going to the beach with my lead shield. 🙂

    I’m always on the lookout for a better sunscreen that will be better for me and my family. Can’t wait to try some of these products!
    .-= Jendeis´s last blog ..70-000 =-.

  43. Wow. Just, wow.

    Thank you so much for this fantastic resource. I’ll be saving this page for reference in the future.

    I just bought Badger mineral, so I’ll see how that does on my vacation in California next week.

    Thanks again.

  44. I can’t imagine how much time this took to test everything and compile these reviews. Thank you so much for doing this! Sunscreen is one product that I struggle to decipher all the chemical jargon and have had no clue what to purchase for years! I will be referring to this and sharing it with friends!

  45. Wow! Thank you so much for all this work. I was surprised to see the the Coppertone Pure and Simple that I bought (in a rush) isn’t too terrible. It did work great at the beach for a week. I’m also excited just to find some of these companies for other products as well. We suffer from eczema here and I’m eager to try some things from Keys Soap. So thanks!

  46. We use and LOVE TruKids. Also love Badger and Loving Naturals as they are made in my backyard so they’re “local” to me as well!

  47. Musings of a Housewife

    This is a fabulous resource.

    So. Hands down. Which is your favorite? Which will you be buying?

    I have used Badger and Burts Bees. My kids burned with Burts Bees. I was very disappointed. I see you didn’t even mention them.

    We like Badger okay, and we do not have the stinging eye problem, which is surprising since you did. The scent does bother my one daughter, though. She said kids at school made fun of her for it. @@

    It’s also very white, as you know, and this bothers my kids some too. I think I’ll order the Sol Kid Kare unless you have one you’d recommend more highly.

    Thanks for this! And thanks for the link love. 🙂
    .-= Musings of a Housewife´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

    1. Heh heh…I don’t think I’ll have to purchase any anytime soon, but…I think my husband was being touchy about the Badger b/c no one else had that reaction, even him later. I’m such a frugal person, that unless I could find a great deal on Cal. Baby, I’d lean toward Sol Kid, Mexitan, and Melansol.
      🙂 Katie

      1. Update: If I had a baby, especially 6 mos. or younger, I’d stick with only zinc oxide based creams, which means Cal. Baby, Mexitan, and Sol Kid are out. Melansol and Kabana are my favorites for ultimate safety at about $4/oz., and Miessence if you can handle the price.

        1. Hi Katie
          I’ve struggled for years with suncreams because without cream, i don’t get ‘heat rash’, but if i judge how long i feel safe outside for without sunscreen i do sometimes burn obviously, but with sunscreen of all types i’ve tried, i seem to have a reaction which is like sunburn mixed with an allergy rash. I saw above you said some people are allergic to the zinc? Can you recommend one that is still as safe as a zinc one but might be the answer for not getting the ‘heat rash’ anymore?

          Thanks!!!!

          1. Hannah,
            There are definitely some that only use titanium dioxide – California Baby is the first brand that comes to mind; we liked that one a lot and it can be found at Target sometimes. Good luck! 🙂 Katie

    2. re: Burt’s Bees – are they rated 0-2 at EWG? I totally missed them, you’re right.

      My husband picked Mexitan to take with him this weekend to the lake, which is a “real” piece of information. 🙂 Katie

      1. I personally don’t care for the Burt’s Bee’s. It has a semi gritty texture and is difficult to spread. I am allergic to something in most sunscreens, so I tend to stick with sunblocks with zinc oxide or titanium. My favorite that I’ve found so far has been an Arbonne sunscreen. It’s for kids and babies. It runs between $15 and $20. You should be able to find it here http://www.arbonne.com/index.asp?lang=eng

    1. I think that this is awesome as well. What great insight and knowledge. Good to see the reviews as well. It is amazing to me to see how water repellent some of this stuff can be. Cool stuff.

    2. I live in FL, have a pool and go to the beach often and have been using California Baby for years and neither of my boys have ever gotten a burn.

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