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Natural Sunscreen Review 2023: 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 2023 (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)


Note: All prices are what I found online as of 2022. 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
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


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

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


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, 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!


  • 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.


  • 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

  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


  • 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
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


thinkbaby sunscreenPrice Range: $$$$

Where to Purchase: thinkbaby, HerbsPro, (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!


  • rubs in fairly well
  • frugal


  • 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
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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!


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


  • 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
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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

Where to Purchase: Badger Online, various brick & mortar stores, Amazon,, 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


  • 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…)


  • 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.


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


  • 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®
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.”


  • super clean ingredients
  • various tints available for all complexions


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Water Resistant
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Effectiveness


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!


  • Very clean ingredients
  • Reef-safe
  • Water resistant


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


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

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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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!


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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!


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


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

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


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.


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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!


  • Super clean ingredient list


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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!


  • Great, clean ingredients
  • Spreads well


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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


  • Rubs in nicely
  • Citrus scent


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


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


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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.


  • Rubs in very well


  • 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
  • Ease of Application
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Water Resistant
  • Effectiveness


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!


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


  • 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.

About The Author

68 thoughts on “Natural Sunscreen Review 2023: The Best Natural Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (Better than EWG!)”

  1. Pingback: Sunscreens « BIO-SIL SOUTH AFRICA Blog

  2. Hi Katie, be on the lookout for a new sunblock by ecoco enterprises ltd. If you would like a free sample you can contact me at [email protected] It would be my pleasure to listen to your review of it.
    The only complaint so far is “It’s hard to get off”.

  3. Wow. I wish I had found this site ages ago. I just spent hours researching sunscreens and landed on Mexitan. To think I could have simply clicked on here! I was planning to do more research too and I am thrilled not to have to do it. Thank you thank you!

    I am in the middle of reading your camping ebook. I am so excited about it. Btw, I tried to buy that bar lotion (which I have been wanting to try) in hopes of getting your ebook for free. I couldn’t find anything about it on the bar site, so I gave up and bought the book without the lotion (we are leaving on our trip on Sunday!!). Perhaps it is just me as I can be dingy, but I wanted to tell you in case there is indeed a glitch or something.

    I am excited to be a new follower!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Welcome aboard! 😉 The camping ebook/lotion bug bar deal ended on Father’s Day, so you’re not dingy, just late. Sorry about that!
      🙂 Katie

  4. Hi Katie,
    I am looking for a safe sunscreen/block for my children. I have a 4 year old with wheat/soy/peanut allergy and an 8 month old baby. We are traveling to Bermuda this summer and I am really looking for some protection for them. Cost is not necessarily a factor. We do spend quite a bit of time in the sun. Your expertise would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I just received a new sample from my previous top recommendation, an SPF 35 that has only 6 ingredients, one of which is Vitamin D. It’s the only sunblock I love putting on my 11mo. No wheat, no soy. It doesn’t rub in great, but we don’t care on the kids (for the adults, we use the tinted, but it stains clothing and just is too risky with wiggly kids). It’s from Kabana: I hope you love it too!
      🙂 Katie

  5. Pingback: Bits and Bobs « Mama Shaz and Baby Pickle

  6. reason 6 review

    It’s actually very complex in this busy life to listen news on Television, thus I just use the web for that purpose, and obtain the most recent news.

  7. I just want to clarify. Is non-nano what is best? Also, the Eco Logical non-nano?? I didn’t see anything listed next to that one. Thank you for all the information. It is so helpful in making healthy choices.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Yes, non-nano is best. Ecological is non-nano; I better go update that entry, thanks! 🙂 Katie

  8. Thanks for this Katie! You’ve reviewed SO many sunscreens here. I’ve been searching for a good one and I love how you’ve been really thorough! Thanks for all the info!

  9. Pingback: Bits and Pieces | Natural Moms Talk Radio

  10. Pingback: How To Make Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen « The Mommypotamus

  11. I’m SO thankful for this post. I need to order sunblock ASAP.

    Just a quick clarification: does Eco Logical sunblock contain nano particles or not? I don’t think the review of that one said.

    Thanks! 🙂

  12. I’m trying to find the mexitan chemical free sunscreen, but when I google it or look it up on amazon all I find is mexitan tropical sands all natural. Is that the same as what you tested? I am very interested in the easier to spread more affordable one.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Cindy, I believe they’ve changed their packaging but not the contents. ? You can click on the links in this post, and there are a few options to purchase, just what I reviewed.
      🙂 Katie

  13. Pingback: Time-Saver Tuesday: Best Beach Tip EVER! –

  14. Not sure if someone posted this further up, but when I was looking at the ingredient description for TruKid, it listed “Caprylyl Glycol-
    Coconut oil mixed with phenoxyethanol” Phenoxyethanol has been listed in several sources I trust as an ingredient to avoid.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      What a tangent I just went on…I spent a while researching this ingredient, and I found that it’s sort of natural, sort of not, probably not toxic, but so much less “natural” than real ingredients not made in a lab, of course. It was NOT on 3 lists “to avoid” that I have in my files, which is good. It’s a 3 or 4 at EWG, which is okay but not the best. I guess I’m not supremely happy that it’s in the TruKid…I think I might make a note of this in the recommendations, and I thank you much for bringing it to my attention! 🙂 katie

  15. Pingback: Friday Finds…Happy Vitamin D Day! | Magic School House

  16. Pingback: How to Raise a Child “Green” with the Power of Words

  17. Pingback: Homemade Sunscreen | Lantanagurl's Rambling Mind

  18. Heather @ Nourishing the Heart

    Thanks for all the work you did for these reviews! We used TruKid last year and it worked great for us. I’m going to try EcoLogical this year though since you gave it a great review and it’s much cheaper. You made my work of choosing a sunscreen for this summer much much much easier!

  19. Pingback: sunscreen | The Praise of Folly

  20. hi, did you hear about Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 and true nature ? i got both, but i am not so sure about it

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I haven’t reviewed either brand, but just follow my list under the “how to evaluate” in the midst of the informative part of this post. You can pretty much figure out the ingredients with that and EWG.
      🙂 Katie

  21. What an incredibly detailed, informative, unbiased and useful blog. Thank you! I just wish I could buy some of these sunscreens – I’m in the UK and all I can find is Jason, Lavera and ESI.

  22. Pingback: Balancing the Risks of Sunscreen & Skin Cancer

  23. My family and I just got back from a trip to the Cayman Islands and I have to say, I would stick with the sun-protective clothing, but the natural sunscreens were a real let-down. We tried both the ECO Logical and the Badger brands and while both worked initially, with any high level of activity both were rubbed off or sweated off in under an hour. This meant that they completely failed to protect shoulders and arms while wearing a lifejacket, nor did they protect faces after goggles, sunglasses or snorkeling masks were worn and removed. We applied at least three times a day, but still came home “crispy.” For the price, the better investment is definitely a rashguard.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Oh, bummer…I wonder if the chemical screens would have done better, or if dropping into the tropics is always a tricky situation. I do love the rash guards as well…
      🙂 Katie

  24. Healthy Solutions

    Wow Katie, this is quite a dense and detailed resource! Thanks a lot for taking the time to put all of this together. I try to stay away from sunscreen if I know that I won’t be outside for more then 30 min. Now I know which product is best for me!!

    Thanks again,
    Dangers Of Nanoparticles In Sunscreen

  25. If you look up Eco Logical products on the EWG site, silicon dioxide, colloidial is listed as an ingredient. I looked that up on Wikipedia and it’s usual size is a nanoparticle (

    Do they really use that stuff?

  26. If you lookup Eco Logical products on the EWG site, it listed the ingredient silicon dioxide, colloidial (. I looked that up on Wikipedia and it’s usual size is a nanoparticle ( Do they really use that stuff?

    1. Chris,
      Hmmm…bummer, I don’t know! I really liked their ingredients until this…will have to look into it later. Thanks! 🙂 Katie

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      The tube lists “silicon dioxide” but I don’t see the word “colloidal.”
      🙂 Katie

  27. I ran across this article:

    Thought it might interest you. You may already know all the info and if so I apologize. Its sorta related to your sunscreen post in that it talks about harmful chemicals commonly found in beauty products.


  28. Being a family of 6 with 3 of those being VERY fair skinned, I think the frugal choice would be to make our own. We usually go through 3 big tubes a summer. Has anyone had success in making your own sunscreen? Any thoughts on effectiveness? Thanks

    1. Soccy,
      I haven’t made my own, but Renee of MadeOn Lotion does. The recipe is in her summer book: It sounds like it works GREAT for her! 😉 Katie

  29. I’m a senior citizen with rosacea, dermatitis and have had a basal cell cancer removed recently. I’ve tried Cetaphil 15 and it seems to work ok and has titanium dioxide listed. Any comments on this one?

    1. Cathy,
      I don’t know the other ingredients, but titanium dioxide as an active ingredient should be quite safe. Is that what you’re wondering? Sounds like for your skin, the milder, the better! I hope you find some relief from all that, either through what you put on your skin or what you put in your body (a lot of skin conditions like those can be caused by food sensitivities that you just don’t know you have).

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Katie

  30. Thank you so much for reviewing these sunscreens. I was a little relieved to read that we aren’t the only ones that were burned when using Blue Lizard, which is supposed to be an excellent product and dermatologist recommended. I’ve been using the Coppertone Sensitive Skin the past two summers, which is not chemical-free, but is very reliable sun protection, and gets a 3 on the EWG website. (FYI, it also has the exact same ingredients as the Kids Pure and Simple.) Thanks to your reviews, I will keep trying other more natural sunscreens to find the one that works for us!

  31. I have been very pleased with the results of the La Roche-Posay brand of Sunscreens a dermatologist recommended. There is an ingredient, in the French version, that is not used in USA brands and it is highly effective in blocking cancerous rays from the sun. Both my children were in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada touring the Grand Canyon in 102 degree weather wearing this lotion and came home without even so much as a new freckle! It is highly effective, a bit pricey… but so is skin cancer. I don’t think I will ever use anything else again. **Although you can purchase the La Roche Posay in the US, only the French versions of this lotion contain the necessary protective ingredients. It can be ordered online. It requires careful reading of ingredients.

    1. Jody,
      that is awesome! I know the FDA has been super slow in approving some good ingredients that are allowed overseas. I didn’t know we could sneak them in!!! 😉 katie

  32. Thank you SO MUCH for putting this together!

    I relied on Badger Balm last year, but my daughter just can’t handle the “rubbing in period” of sun screen application. I’m thinking my next purchase just may be Mexitan.

    You mentioned how watery it is. Do you think it is thin enough to be put in a spray pump bottle and applied as a liquid? I think that would help speed our sun screen application.


    1. Greta,
      You would still have to rub it in, I’m sure. I’ve tested a few spray sunblocks this summer (update coming this week!!), and for any of them, you can squirt them on the skin but still need to rub them in. My husband thinks that defeats the purpose of a spray bottle, and I agree that he’s about 90% right! 😉 Katie

  33. I have tried several different brands. This year, we are using Goddess Garden. I am very happy with it. The different formulations are rated 1&2 by EWG, so they are pretty good. For once, we have found a brand we will repurchase! Goddess Garden is the easiest to apply of at least 5 different brands we have tried. I have found that all of the mineral based sunscreens are easier to apply if your skin is wet. If they get pasty before they are all rubbed in, grab a handful of water and use that to finish rubbing it in. The GG has to be reapplied more often than some other ones, but it’s worth it.

    For those who need something easily accessible, for example, on vacation – Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple is a decent option. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than a lot of what’s available on the shelves.

  34. I am in awe of your in-depth research and thorough write up! Thank you so much!
    Last year, I splurged on Loving Naturals because my daughter’s skin allergies flared up and I was very nervous about applying any chemicals on her delicate, raw, red, itchy skin. But, it was so hard to rub in (my children have daddy’s darker skin tone) so I ended up hurting her MORE! This year, I did the EWG search again (and posted my limited findings), but limited it to what I could find locally and ended up with Coppertone oil-free (SPF 50) which is easy to apply (and re-apply often) and has worked well so far. However, I know it contains unwanted chemicals and I will be sure to follow your recommendations when I need to purchase again!

  35. Sherry England

    I am so happy that the Mexitan made your list.This is my absolute fav!!!My Mom breaks out in the sun due to rx meds and she can put this on and no probs.I am an advocate of 15-20 min of no protection for the natural vit d then the sunscreen.Maybe less if you really burn easily.Sometimes I use coconut oil after I have a good base tan.

  36. Pingback: More camping information: BUGS AND SUN!

  37. Has anyone heard of a product called “Sea Enzyme – Ultra-Umbrella Environmental Protection Moisturizer” please let me know what you think about it?

    1. Mike,
      Check the ingredients and match them up with the tutorial in this post, or list them here. I’ve never seen it before. 🙂 Katie

  38. Pingback: Sunscreen, Sunblocks, and Cancer - Do You Know the Truth? | CML - A Blog for Moms

  39. Katie @ Imperfect People

    Wow! I am so thankful to find this! Thank you so much for all your hard work. This is a great source!

  40. Pingback: On Sunscreen

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  42. Could you please weigh in on the La-Roche Posay, French/Canadian versions? They are currently not sold in the US and need to be ordered online so you get the Mexoryl SX and XL, which are not yet FDA approved. I have been told that these are the only lotions that prevent skin cancer, and all others are only preventing burns, not cancer. Thanks!

    1. Jody,
      I wish I could, but I have no idea about those ingredients. 🙁 Typically, it seems like European countries ban dangerous ingredients much faster than the U.S., so my personal gut reaction would be that if Europe allows it, it’s probably safe. But your research with Google would be equal to what I can share. Sorry about that! –Katie

  43. Pingback: Time-Saver Tuesday: Best Beach Tip EVER! :: Happy Homemaker Reviews

  44. Wow–thanks for this exhaustive research! I can’t imagine how long this took! Do you know anything about “Smart Girls Who Surf” sunblock? It is not listed on the EWG site, but according to the information on Vitacost, it’s totally natural and contains zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Would love your opinion. We are leaving for the beach next week and would like to use something stronger and mineral-based for my youngest–fair skin and red-headed! Thanks again!

    1. Lisa,
      Not heard of that one. I’d look at ingredients: ONLY those two minerals should be “active” ingredients, there should be some sort of antioxidant included (Vitamin E, green tea, etc.) and no retyinyl palmate (synthetic Vitamin A). If you can pronounce all the ingredients, all the better! (And use T-shirts for those fair-skinned kids, too!). 😉 Katie

  45. Katie,

    Thank you for your extensive research. I have been so frustrated with finding a natural sunscreen without the white film. I’m going to try your husband’s favorite, Mexitan. Please thank your sweet husband for being such a great model. Your comments kept me laughing like a sitcom!

  46. Wow! What a valuable resource! I have never seen so many sunscreen reviews in one place. Thank you for putting in the work to help others.

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