Compared: 6 Best Natural Face Moisturizers with SPF

April 30, 2020 (updated July 10, 2024) — Written by

For all the ways we talk about taking care of your skin, one thing stands out above the rest in terms of preventative care: using a reliable, mineral face sunscreen. All the plant-based retinol and hydrating serums in the world can’t undo sun damage, but a natural moisturizer with SPF can help prevent it. Here are the best mineral face SPFs we’ve tried, including our top picks (and we’ve tried A LOT).

a smiling woman applies face spf to her face

By: Lisa Fennessy and Nicolle Mackinnon


Our Top Picks

Le Prunier Plumscreen

Use code THENEWKNEW to save 10%.

kinfield Daily Dew

Good for sport days or everyday wear!

MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum

Literally no reaction!


Sun’s out, screens out! Whether you’re an avid sunscreen user or you pick it up occasionally, a mineral sun blocker can be one of the most powerful tools in your skincare routine. Preventing sun damage and protecting your skin from free radicals and UVA / UVB rays not only help you avoid things like skin cancer, but it also can help slow down the skin’s aging process. And if you use a sunless tanner, then you definitely want to be using a good SPF too.

And yes, some people say you “should be” applying it every day—but let me be the first to say, I DON’T! I use it mostly when I know I’m going to be out in the sun for a while or playing sports. But regardless, when I do use an SPF, I want it to be easy to use, effective, not cause any irritation and be good for my skin—and I know I’m not alone! That’s where this comparison comes in. We’ve tested more than 15 of the TOP mineral sunscreen brands, and these are THE ABSOLUTE BEST. You’re gonna wanna bookmark this for future reference. Trust us.



a woman applies sunscreen to her cheek

Things to note about our best SPF for face picks

We’ve put ourselves through the wringer with this overview, meaning we’ve been sourcing and testing and chatting with brands for over 8 years (yes TNK has been around since 2016!) to get this list narrowed down to THE BEST picks. That said, a few things to note before we dive in:

  • All of these are mineral sunscreen picks, meaning the active ingredient that blocks UVA and UVB is either zinc and / or titanium dioxide. We do not promote the use of chemical sunscreen barriers like oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate. You can learn more about how to read sunscreen labels.
  • We also typically do our skincare routines and then layer SPF over it—meaning we apply regular moisturizer and then layer more moisturizer via SPF as a last layer. Mentioning this because it will affect the finish / wear.
  • We are also weighing in on how each of these formulas does with sensitive skin.
  • It’s not unlikely for indie beauty brands to have variation from batch to batch.
  • All of these formulas say to reapply after 80 to 120 minutes. This is standard for sunscreen—and if you want to avoid a burn, follow that guidance. But if you get a burn, check out these tips for how to treat a sunburn.
  • Claims against blue light blocking are not included here because generally the active ingredient to block blue light is zinc, which is included in all of these formulas.
  • We narrowed down this study to NON-TINTED face SPFs. We also have a review of natural tinted SPFs.
  • Under each product, you will also see an application video so you can get an idea of how each formula goes on.


A note about SPF and sensitive skin

Nicolle here, resident TNK sensitive skin tester. If you have sensitive skin, you might struggle with finding an SPF that works for you—but you might not know exactly why mineral SPFs are irritating.

The basic sensitive skin rule of thumb also applies to SPF: any ingredient, synthetic or natural or mineral or animal, can be irritating to YOUR skin. Everyone is different, so if you find that you’ve got unidentified redness, irritation, bumps, itchiness, blemishes, flakiness or dryness popping up while you’re using a new (or any!) product, you might have to do a little detective work to figure out what ingredient is the culprit.

Bottom line: Don’t assume that because it’s “natural,” it’s non-irritating for you. It took me nearly three years to realize lavender was the cause of continuous breakouts on my face; now, I rarely get cystic acne because I’ve eliminated that ingredient from my routine.

With mineral sunscreen, the active ingredient we recommend is zinc oxide, which can be incredibly drying, even for normal skin (it’s also the active ingredient in many natural diaper rash creams—and a cause of diaper rash? Dampness + friction). On me, that means mineral sunscreens are often linked to itchiness, dryness, and small red bumps and whiteheads popping up around my nose, on my chin and across my cheeks.

To avoid this, I make sure to apply a good, thick moisturizer (here’s what I’m currently using) or primer under my SPF, even if the SPF claims to have additional moisturizing ingredients. I also don’t use an SPF every day (I know, I KNOW) to keep my skin from being irritated.

Final sensitive skin note: Below, I’ve added my experience with each of the SPFs we tried, but my sensitivity might not be the same as your sensitivity, so take my notes with a grain of salt (or sand, since this IS an SPF post).


Compared: 6 natural face moisturizers with SPF 







Natural face moisturizers with SPF that didn’t make the cut


TNK’s top picks for natural moisturizers with SPF

A graphic of TNK's top picks for untinted face SPFS.

Natural face SPF tips and facts

FACTS: Zinc based sunscreens can dry out your skin.

That’s why we look for and recommend formulas that counteract that with moisturizing and hydrating ingredients. I personally love Le Prunier’s Plumscreen SPF 31 which only has 4% zinc added!  

FACTS: Sunscreens can go bad.

All sunscreens should have a “use by” date. Make sure to locate it on the tube and check each season.  

Use an SPF amount that will serve you.  

I personally think SPF 30 is the best option for maximum protection while still being easy to spread and use. Cancer.org explains the difference between SPF 15 and SPF 30 is just a 4% difference in coverage. (Meaning SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97% and SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%). 

FACTS: Choosing non-nano zinc is a thing.

Non-nano zinc oxide offers the best UV protection and it’s the kind supported by ECCOCERT and the ECOCERT COSMOS certification (the gold star standards in clean beauty). When non-nano zinc oxide is applied to the skin, all of the zinc oxide remains on top of the skin’s surface to reflect UV radiation. This has been proven with a study that used tape. The tape applied to the skin was able to recover all topically applied zinc oxide in sunscreens. 

FACTS: “Reef safe” is not an actual certification. 

No one is monitoring the use of the term reef safe. This means brands can use it and claim it at will. Generally speaking it means not using oxybenzone and octinoxate as chemical barriers. But it can go deeper than that depending on what source you read.


What’s your go-to untinted face SPF? Share, share!

xo, lisa and nicolle

TNK Team Note: This article may contain affiliate links, including Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!

47 Comments

  1. Reply

    Rhea

    Hi Lisa, I’m a little late reading this article, In addition to non-greasy which you’ve covered, I’m looking for a sunscreen that doesn’t feel sticky or filmy when I sweat. Is there one in particular you’d recommend? Thank you.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      YES! You will like Le Prunier and Erin’s Faces the best!

  2. Reply

    Rhea

    Thanks so much for replying and for the recommendation!

  3. Reply

    Megan

    Thank you so much, Nicolle and Lisa, for the Erin’s Faces recommendation! It took me years to figure out that my face bumps (ie undiagnosed rosacea) was due to my clean zinc sunscreen. I’ve been using Erin’s faces for 2 weeks. It’s the first spf I’ve found that keeps my skin cool and collected. I still wear hats but feel more comfortable with this added protection from the Southern California sun!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      So glad you found something you love Megan! So apparently they just reformulated (spring 2024). I haven’t tried the new formula yet but I hear it’s good. I hope it still works for you. You have to let us know! xo

  4. Reply

    Nina Strommen

    I can’t recommend Blissoma Photonic enough! I have sensitive, drier skin (age 50), and I use it over a moisturizer. I’ve used it for several years. It’s gentle, effective, and plays well with all skincare and makeup. No white cast.

  5. Reply

    Rhea

    Love this list! I’m going crazy trying to figure out how to reapply sunscreen over makeup. All the powders and face sprays I’ve come across don’t have the most desirable ingredients. Please help!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Agree! That is something I haven’t found yet either!

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