Sunscreen. It’s pretty much required for any skincare routine on those hot, sunny days of summer unless you want to get a nasty sunburn. If you’re someone who spends many hours outside on those sunshiny days, having the right sunscreen can make or break your outdoor activities. As people who regularly spend lots of time in the water in the sunshine, we have lots of first-hand experience with sunscreen. We’ve seen it all! Here are some of our favorite mineral sunscreens.
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What Is the Difference Between a Chemical Sunscreen and a Mineral Sunscreen?
A chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the sun’s rays, converting them to heat, and then releasing them from the body. A chemical sunscreen accomplishes this through active ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and others.
A physical sunscreen (or mineral sunscreen) sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun’s rays away from the skin. It does this with active ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
Why Do We Recommend Mineral Sunscreens vs. Chemical Sunscreens?
Before getting pregnant with my first child, I never gave much thought to sunscreen. I tried to find the biggest bottle of sunscreen at the cheapest price. When pregnant, you quickly find out that there are all kinds of products that doctors and experts advise against using while pregnant. Add a good Google search to the list of restricted skin products and you’ll find a whole bunch of opinions out there about what you should and should not use while pregnant.
To summarize what is arguably way too many hours of reading about sunscreen, did you know…
- that the chemicals in sunscreen build up in your body?
- that chemical sunscreens harm ocean life, including coral reefs, and that chemical sunscreens are banned in the state of Hawai’i and in Mexico?
While it is not known if there are any long-term risks to the buildup of the ingredients found in chemical sunscreens, we prefer to err on the side of caution for both ourselves as well as our kids. Also, as ocean-lovers, we would very much like to protect our coral reefs!
The 7 Best Mineral Sunscreens We’ve Tried and Love!
Note: some of these sunscreens can be purchased through an HSA/FSA account. Woot!
Best Spray Mineral Sunscreen
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen (SPF 30) is great because it’s quick and easy when you’re on the go. It doesn’t spray everywhere and it blends into your skin easily. It is light and absorbs quickly, and is gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 30) hydrates your skin better than other mineral sunscreens, so it’s great for dry skin. It’s also really good for sensitive skin. This brand also seems to provide good coverage even when you’ve been in the water for a long time.
Best Mineral Sunscreen to Engage Kids
We know, we know. It’s a weird category, but hear us out. It can be a challenge to get sunscreen on your kids. Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen (SPF 30) is a great all-around sunscreen. What makes it really cool, though, is that the bottle turns from white to blue when the sun is bright (and you should be wearing sunscreen). Nifty!
Best Long-Lasting Mineral Sunscreen
Absolutely Natural Sunscreen (SPF 30) is a very high-quality sunscreen. Ms. Jessie uses this sunscreen exclusively when teaching swimming lessons all day long because it provides the best long-lasting protection, even when you’re very active in the water. Added bonus: Absolutely Natural is a great company based out of the 30-A area of the Florida panhandle!
Easiest to Apply Mineral Sunscreen
Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion (SPF 30) is by far the easiest mineral sunscreen we’ve found to date. Ms. Jessie says this is her go-to sunscreen for her children to make sunscreen application as quick and easy as possible!
Best Mineral Lip Balm
Don’t forget to protect your lips! Burt’s Bees 100% Natural All-Weather Lip Balm (SPF 15) is a great product to keep your lips protected when you’re out in the sun.
Best Mineral Sunscreen Stick
Think Baby Safe Sunscreen Stick (SPF 30) is easy to apply (great for toddlers!) and provides wonderful protection. Ms. Michelle uses this product exclusively for her children, and she finds that it also works well on her face without causing breakouts.
Common Questions About Mineral Sunscreens
Why do you recommend mostly SPF 30 sunscreens instead of sunscreens with higher SPF values?
- SPF values can be a little misleading. SPF 30 sunscreens offer 97% protection from the sun’s harmful rays, where SPF 100 offers 99% protection. The difference in the higher SPFs is negligible, and SPF 30 sunscreens provide adequate protection for all but the fairest of people.
Will a mineral sunscreen leave you looking pale?
- If you apply too much, or if you use a brand that is hard to rub into your skin, you can be left with a white sheen on your skin.
Why are mineral sunscreens more expensive than physical sunscreens?
- This is because the ingredients used to make mineral sunscreens are more expensive than the chemicals used to create chemical sunscreens.
Are mineral sunscreens better for the environment?
- Yes. They are not known to harm coral reefs or ocean life in general. In fact, chemical sunscreens are banned in many countries for this reason.
Are mineral sunscreens better for you?
- It is not known if the buildup of the chemicals used chemical sunscreens are harmful to the body. However, it is known that the chemicals do build up in your body with the use of chemical sunscreens.
- Mineral sunscreens may be better for your face, especially if sunscreen tends to make your face break out.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Mineral Sunscreens
Protecting your skin from the sun is a priority when you and/or your kids are swimming or out in the sun during the brightest times of day. There are many wonderful mineral sunscreens on the market that are better for your skin and for the environment.
What mineral sunscreens do you recommend? Comment with your recommendations!