Update: This guide was originally published May 25, 2012. Since then we’ve compiled an updated consumer guide for natural sunscreen products that you can check out here.
When it comes to summer sun, you know you should stick on a hat and cover your delicate skin as much as possible. Outdoor activities, fun in the water and the longing for a killer tan tend to hinder your good beauty intentions somewhat. One area where you don’t skimp, though, is on sunscreen. Hopefully.
You slather that stuff on like it’s the elixir of youth, which in a way it is. Fighting UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and more importantly UVA rays, which amplify skin aging and can cause precancerous skin damages, sunscreen can keep your skin looking youthful and healthy. Sunscreens without any nasty parabens, phthalates, aluminum and other harmful chemicals mean even more beauty benefits for you natural sun gods and goddesses.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently analyzed more than 800 beach and sport sunscreens for its 2012 sunscreen guide. Many conventional sunscreens still contained meaningless sky-high SPF ratings and no protection against UVA rays, but the EWG found a few gems too! Before heading out to the great outdoors this summer, check out these 21 sunscreens for better skin-protecting options. Welcome to summer!
Adorable Baby Sunscreen
Formulated especially for babies’ delicate skin, Adorable Baby Sunscreen contains a short list (eight to be exact) of natural and organic ingredients. Its main active ingredient, non-nano zinc oxide, protects skin against UVB and UVA rays with 30 SPF protection. Adorable Baby Sunscreen received a low hazard rating from EWG.
All Terrain TerraSport Face Stick
Designed for active folks, All Terrain TerraSport Face Stick provides a balance of UVA and UVB protection with 28 SPF without turning greasy. It also contains a skin protectant to help defend skin from the drying effects of sun, wind and cold weather. However, the EWG labeled the protectant, dimethicone, with moderate concern as expected to be toxic or harmful with the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List as a reference. The active ingredient, non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide, doesn’t cause eye sting so this product is good for kiddos who may get it in their eyes. No organic ingredients.
Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Green Tea Sunscreen
This rich sunscreen harnesses the antioxidant power of organic matcha green tea to help prevent free radical damage. Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Green Tea Sunscreen also contains moisturizing jojoba and sunflower oils. Its active ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect skin against both UVB and UVA rays, while offering 30 SPF protection. Contains some organic ingredients.
Badger Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen
Who needs perfume when you can slather on this moisturizing sunscreen that contains certified organic extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, jojoba oil and cocoa butter, all with a faint scent of lavender? Badger Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen protects against UVB and UVA rays, offers 30 SPF protection, and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. And, it’s all contained in eco-conscious packaging that’s made from BPA- and phthalate-free post-consumer recycled plastic.
California Baby Everyday/Year-Round Sunblock Stick
Grab this easy-to-use sunscreen stick for the entire family any time of the year. Slick on the California Baby Everyday/Year-Round Sunblock Stick for 30 SPF protection and up to 80 minutes of protection from UVB and UVA rays during outdoor and water activities. Contains some organic and sustainably-grown ingredients.
Climb On! Mineral Sunscreen
With many certified organic ingredients in its formula, Climb On! Mineral Sunscreen offers 30 SPF protection without the worry of slathering chemicals onto your skin. Climb On! describes its sunscreen as containing non-nano zinc oxide as its main sunscreen ingredient, but that all of its ingredients were chosen for their role in skin protection. Some research has shown that one of its ingredients, red raspberry seed oil, contains anti-inflammatory properties and may shield against UVB and UVA rays.
COOLA Plant UV Body Sunscreen, Unscented Moisturizer
Nourish and protect your skin with COOLA Plant UV Body Sunscreen. This sunscreen contains Buddleja davidii stems and Lilac Leaf, protective plant cells that contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Made with 70 percent inactive organic ingredients, the active zinc oxide in the formula provides SPF 30 and protection against UVB and UVA rays.
ECO Logical Skin Care Body All Natural Sunscreen
This hypoallergenic, fragrance-free sunscreen uses potent antioxidants (green tea and grape seed) and anti-aging ingredients (shea butter, jojoba and silicon dioxide) to protect and hydrate skin. ECO Logical Skin Care Body All Natural Sunscreen offers protection against UVB and UVA rays and contains 30 SPF. The EWG does label one ingredient in this sunscreen, Silica, Crystalline (Quartz), as a moderate hazard. Contains some organic ingredients.
Elemental Herbs Sunstick Zinc Sunscreen
Slick the unscented Elemental Herbs Sunstick Zinc Sunscreen, Unscented on your face, neck and ears for quick and easy UVA and UVB protection. The active ingredient, zinc oxide, enables the sunscreen to go on clear and provides 30 SPF. This stick is also rich in nourishing certified organic oils, including jojoba, coconut and avocado. Contains some organic ingredients.
Hara Body Care Hara Sport Sunscreen
This zinc-based sunscreen offers both UVA and UVB protection with 30 SPF. Hara Body Care Hara Sport Sunscreen contains only seven ingredients, including olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, beeswax, simmondsia chinesis (jojoba) seed oil, cacao (cocoa) seed butter, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) and tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E). None of the ingredients are organic.
Healing-Scents Live Long Mineral-Based Sunscreen
This natural sunscreen with SPF 25 protects against UVB and UVA rays. While zinc oxide acts as the active ingredient in Healing-Scents Live Long Mineral-Based Sunscreen, it also contains oils that filter the sun for even more protection. Brown iron oxide helps take away that pasty white look and enables the sunscreen to blend into skin, while the lavender essential oil in the formula will also help repel insects. The EWG labeled one ingredient in this sunscreen, potassium sorbate, as a moderate hazard. Contains just 14 ingredients, none of which are organic.
Karen’s Botanicals Simple Sunblock Lotion
This light, unscented sunscreen absorbs quickly into skin. Built right into the name, Karen’s Botanicals Simple Sunblock Lotion contains simple ingredients. With no chemical UV-absorbers, chemical preservatives, titanium dioxide or parabens, you can feel safe smoothing this zinc-based sunscreen all over your skin. This sunscreen contains 12 ingredients in total to protect skin against UVB and UVA rays and offer SPF 30 protection. The EWG labeled one ingredient in this sunscreen, emulsifying wax, as a moderate hazard.Contains some certified-organic ingredients.
Kiss My Face Kids 100% Natural Mineral Sunblock Sunstick
For little lips, noses, cheeks and ears, kids will have fun with this one. Offered in blue or pink, when you slick on the Kiss My Face Kids 100% Natural Mineral Sunblock Sunstick, it stays that select color until it wears off. When it fades, you know it’s time to reapply. Active ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which provide UVB and UVA protection and SPF 30. Carry this paraben- and phthalate-free sunstick in your everyday purse or bag for convenient use. Contains no organic ingredients.
Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen
No more ghost-like skin when you slather on this natural sunscreen. It absorbs clearly into skin, just as smooth as lotion. Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen provides protection from UVB and UVA rays, and offers SPF 30. Although its more heavy-duty formula is meant for the body, it can be used on the face. Contains only 14 ingredients, some of which are organic. All are vegan!
Marie Veronique Organics Kid Safe Sunscreen
Spritz on this Kid Safe Sunscreen from Marie Veronique Organics with its handy pump for full body UVA and UVB protection. Made with 16 ingredients including additional skin-protecting antioxidant support from vitamin E and green tea, this vegan sunscreen offers SPF 25. The EWG labeled two ingredients in this sunscreen, potassium sorbate and ylang ylang oil, as moderate hazards. Contains no organic ingredients.
Poofy Organics The Sunscreen
Labeled “The” sunscreen, Poofy Organics The Sunscreen certainly seems to be quite the sunscreen. It boasts only 10 simple ingredients, 7 of which are organic. Plus, the skin-nourishing vitamin E included is also non-GMO! It provides full spectrum UVB and UVA protection and SPF 30. Designed for all skin types.
Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff Mineral Lotion
This SPF 30 sunscreen was made for playing in the sun. Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff Mineral Lotion has a non-whitening formula that scatters the sun’s harmful UVB and UVA rays. This unscented sunscreen goes on like a lotion and contains 13 ingredients, including the active ingredient zinc oxide. It also comes in two convenient sizes.
Raw Elements USA Eco Formula 30+
Proclaimed “free of the bad stuff” on the Raw Elements website, this SPF 30 sunscreen certainly is free of nasty chemicals, parabens and phthlates. With 10 ingredients, including the active zinc oxide, Raw Elements USA Eco Formula 30+ provides protection against UVB and UVA rays and keeps it simple. Contains some certified organic ingredients.
Releve Organic Skincare by Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite Sunscreen
Chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, the seven powerful ingredients in this sunscreen, including the active zinc oxide, all work together to protect skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays. The fragrance-free Releve Organic Skincare by Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite Sunscreen goes on non-greasy. Made with plenty of aloe vera, this SPF 20 sunscreen is also super moisturizing. The EWG labeled one ingredient in this sunscreen, lecithin, as a moderate hazard. Contains some certified organic ingredients.
Seventh Generation Baby Sunscreen
You can feel safe slathering this gentle sunscreen designed specifically for babies’ delicate skin all over your little ones (and yourself!). With a formula that contains 16 ingredients, Seventh Generation Baby Sunscreen stays on the surface of the skin to defend against UVB and UVA rays. It provides SPF 30 protection and is free of parabens and PABA. Made with extra virgin olive oil, this sunscreen leaves a trace of a light, fresh scent. Contains no organic ingredients.
The Honest Company Honest Sunscreen
This mineral sunscreen is formulated with non-nanoparticle zinc oxide as the active ingredient and contains only eight other edible-grade organic, baby-safe ingredients. The ingredient list for The Honest Company Honest Sunscreen includes 25 percent zinc oxide, Eldorado Springs artesian water, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic jojoba oil, vegetable glycerin, organic shea butter, vegetable emulsifying wax NF, and vegetable vitamin E. This vegan product is fragrance-free and vegan. The EWG labeled one of this sunscreen’s ingredients, emulsifying wax, as a moderate hazard.
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Top image: koadmunkee