Mineral, aka physical, sunscreens offer safer, eco-friendly sun protection for the whole family. No longer thick or chalky, these formulas are wearable for workdays and long weekends.

By Erica Metzger
June 07, 2019
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Did you know that there are different types of sunscreen? Traditional chemical-based sunscreens blend easily, can supply adequate SPF coverage, and help prevent skin cancer, but not all of them are safe for marine life or ideal for common skin conditions like acne and rosacea. But there's one growing sunscreen category that's especially worth watching if you're prone to skin sensitivities and concerned about the environment. Mineral sunscreen (also known as physical sunscreen) is getting a lot of attention since it is gentle, eco-friendly, and safer than ever. So what is it, and how does it work?

There are a couple of key differences between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. For starters, mineral formulas contain active mineral ingredients (either zinc oxide by itself or combined with titanium dioxide). These mineral blockers behave just like their name implies; they sit on your skin and act as a physical barrier to deflect UV light, says NYC-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D.

Mineral formulas may also require more blending (compared to a transparent chemical sunscreen), so Zeichner recommends a connect-the-dots method: apply small dots on exposed skin, then rub the dots together to connect them and evenly cover your skin.

mineral sunscreens

Now that you know how to apply mineral sunscreen, it's on to the fun part: Shopping! We've rounded up five mineral sunscreens to keep your skin safe all summer long.

bare mineral sunscreen, gold and white tube
Image courtesy of Bare Republic.

Best Mineral Sunscreen with Shimmer: Bare Republic Mineral Shimmer Sunscreen

Adding a little sparkle to your skin can help it look more radiant the second you step outside. Plus, it's an easy way to fake a glow while protecting yourself from harmful rays (win-win!).

mineral face sunscreen
Image courtesy of Amazon.

Best Non-Greasy Mineral Sunscreen: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen

Contrary to popular belief, you can get a sunburn on a cloudy day–that's why it's so important to make sunscreen application part of your daily routine. Layer this non-greasy formula under makeup to give your face an extra layer of protection.

coppertone kids sunscreen
Image courtesy of Walmart.

Best Mineral Sunscreen for Kids: Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen

Swimsuit? Check. Goggles? Check. Paraben- and fragrance-free mineral sunscreen? Check. Coppertone's new Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen won't clog pores or irritate sensitive skin, but it will protect little ones as they have fun outside this summer.

sunscreen in green spray can
Image courtesy of Amazon.

Best Mineral Sunscreen Spray: Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

Botanical ingredients are popping up in more beauty products because they're so gentle on skin, and the trend extends to sunscreen. This mineral sunscreen spray is designed to protect sensitive skin from sunburn and signs of aging—and it's coral-reef friendly.

aveeno mineral sunscreen
Image courtesy of Walmart.

Best Hypoallergenic Mineral Sunscreen: Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen

Lightweight, non-greasy, and hypoallergenic: all the things we love in a sunscreen. We also love that this mineral sunscreen gives up to 80 minutes of sun protection, even when you're wet or sweating. Its dry matte finish and fast-absorbing formula make it ideal for wearing under makeup, too.

Sun protection is an essential step in your summer skincare and beauty routine; these eco-friendly mineral sunscreen options will feel great on your skin and help it look its best.


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