Our a/b tests have been stringent, and we really know what mineral sunscreens are effective, rub in well, and last a long time.
Of all those well over 100 choices, we only have about a dozen that we love and this brand is one of them.
If you’re looking for one of the best natural sunscreens, you’re in the right place!
As you’ll read in the full review below, this zinc oxide sunscreen covers all the bases and keeps your family safe from sunburn. It uses pristine ingredients to the highest standard, goes on smooth, and actually lasts.
If you’d like to see how it stacks up against other natural mineral sunscreen brands that use reef-safe zinc oxide, then head over to my ultimate guide to natural mineral sunscreens for the complete list of safe sunscreen reviews.
- Clean Ingredients
- Ease of Application
- Water Resistant
EWG rating: 1 for all formulas
- Active ingredient(s): Non-Nano Uncoated Zinc Oxide 22.5%
- Other ingredients: Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Peel Oil, *Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E), *Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Fruit Extract
- Antioxidants added: Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E)
- 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!
- Tangerine Vanilla Stick: + This stick smells lovely, a blend of orange and vanilla, and it has very very clean ingredients. It applies very easily, rubs in well, and would be a great option to send with a child to apply to their own face. One reason I love sticks is lack of gloppy mess that you find sometimes with cream, as well as the fact that you can really see where you initially apply it, and then ask a child to rub it in themselves. That’s one way to split the work, but my older kids can definitely do it 100% independently, and my younger ones certainly think they can.The stick has the highest water resistance rating possible, 80 minutes, and we definitely observed water beading up and rolling off our skin even after a full hour of swimming.
Super important note: Safety with essential oils is becoming more understood, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Orange oil is one of those that is phototoxic, meaning it can intensify the sun and cause burns more readily when used topically. So is this a terrible choice for a sunscreen?First, it’s unclear whether the sweet orange oil in the Badger stick is essential oil or something less potent. But either way, sweet orange is not phototoxic, and neither is tangerine. It’s bitter orange that is a photosensitizer. (Phew!) source
- 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!
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, and maybe the face stick because my daughter thinks it’s really cool. Also, the face stick uses olive oil instead of sunflower oil, which I really prefer, and it has a higher SPF than the baby and kids formula.
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.
Wondering if this one is the very best natural sunscreen for your family?
I organized alllll the sunscreens we reviewed in each one’s recommendation category – one page, at-a-glance to find out what is safe to buy AND works! Print it or save to your phone for reference!
The guide also includes answers to questions people ask me all the time:
- Which brand rubs in the clearest?
- What’s the best for all day outdoor sports?
- How do I save money on natural sunscreens?
- What looks good on ladies’ faces?
- Is there an option that is FAST to apply to wiggly kids?
I’ll send a copy to your email so you can see it right away and find it again later!