2022 Buying Guide: Best Mineral Body Sunscreens for the Whole Family

May 7, 2021 (updated August 29, 2022)

As summer hits, so does the sudden desire for all things mineral sunscreen. And for good reason: Sunscreen is one of the most important daily skincare products for protection against the elements and premature aging. If you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you know that natural sunscreen is at the top of our list. These are our top picks for the best mineral sunscreen for the whole family.

a woman holds a beach bag and a bottle of mineral sunscreen in her hands while smiling

By: TNK Team

IN THIS POST:

While we’re not going to chide you if you haven’t been wearing your face SPF all year round, we will say that if you plan on spending more time outdoors now that the temps are rising, you need a go-to mineral sunscreen. And not one of those SPFs that turns you into a lifeguard circa 1962 (though no shade thrown to the zinc-covered nose—slathering that on was a way to be proactive!).

Instead, we’ve sourced our favorite mineral sunscreens for your body that aren’t reminiscent of Casper the Friendly Ghost. But first, a few things you should know about buying natural sunscreen.


What to consider when buying mineral sunscreen

Picture this: Summer has hit and suddenly it’s full of walks to the park, long weekend afternoon playdates and plans to head to the pool (or lake or ocean). The timing creeps up on you and you’re left choosing between a fast trip to the store for a new bottle of sunblock and an angry red sunburn.

There are innumerable options with colorful bottles, cute logos and enticing coconut-y scents. So, which do you choose when you’re stuck in a bind? Well, you can start here, with our guide to reading sunscreen labels.

But if you don’t have time for that, you can skip to our quick guide for what to consider when shopping for natural sunscreen. 👇

Active Ingredients 

Active ingredients are the ingredients that will actually block UVA and UVB rays from your skin. These fall into two buckets: chemical barriers and mineral barriers. 

  1. Chemical barriers include ingredients like avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, octisalate and oxybenzone. 
  2. Mineral barriers include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Hot Tip: You really want to only see one thing on the label here and that’s zinc oxide or zinc oxide + titanium dioxide in tandem.

Zinc oxide provides more broad spectrum coverage than titanium dioxide and it also doesn’t introduce potential health risks, or threats to coral reefs (1) like chemical barriers do. Even the FDA recommends (2) zinc and/or titanium dioxide as the safest sunscreen options.

Plus, while most people think about sunscreen as UV protection, mineral sunscreen can also protect against blue light and pollution (talk about a triple whammy!).

Additional questions you can ask brands/check labels for:

  1. Is their zinc oxide is also non-nano (providing the best UV protection)?
  2. And is their zinc oxide non-coated (meaning no added silicone or silicone derivatives)?

RELATED: Get more detail + examples for how to vet your sunscreen in this chemist-reviewed post, or get our recommendations for the best mineral face SPF.

Inactive Ingredients 

Inactive ingredients are the carrier ingredients for each formula (like what makes a lotion a lotion or a spray a spray). In conventional sunscreens, you will see ingredients to consider like synthetic fragrances, microplastics, PEGs, mineral oils and parabens. 

We recommend choosing a sunscreen that is not only void of questionable ingredients, but is also formulated to support skin health. 

For example, look for sunscreens that are jam-packed with antioxidants, which significantly further reduce the rise of UV damage to skin cells (3). Some examples of antioxidant-rich ingredients you may find in sunscreens are:

  • Ferulic acid
  • Oryzanol
  • Vitamin C
  • Neem
  • Rosemary
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Squalane
  • Tocopherol

RELATED: Check out TNK’s NO THANKS list for all the ingredients we skip in our personal care products.

Packaging

We’ve seen several options for SPF packaging including glass, tins, paper tubes and, of course, plastic. 

If you are buying SPF in plastic, look for plastic that is either made from recycled plastic or easily recyclable plastic.

Two examples are: polyethylene terephthalate (RPET), which is the most widely recycled plastic in the world, or High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is the easiest plastic polymer to recycle, according to the Plastic Action Center (4).  

Of course, it doesn’t really matter how recyclable the plastic is if your local recycling program does not have the capacity to process it. So, a to-do for your list: Be sure to call your local program to inquire.

We also love seeing companies that are cleaning up our oceans by using recycled ocean plastic in their packaging—as well as some brands that give back to Mother Earth via programs like One Tree Planted or via obtaining a Carbon Neutral Certification.

Third Party Certifications 

Lastly, another measure you can use to help you determine if your sunscreen is a healthier choice is via third party certifications like MADE SAFE, EWG VERIFIED, USDA Certified Organic or ECOCERT. 

Knowing that a brand has taken the extra steps of having an independent third party look at their formula speaks volumes to their ethos and transparency. 

But (you knew there was a but, didn’t you?), it’s not always that cut and dry, as some certifications apply to sunscreen more than others. For example, the FDA does not define or regulate the term “organic” as it applies to cosmetic, body care or personal care products. So although USDA organic sunscreens do exist, you won’t see many. We recommend looking for ECOCERT Cosmos Natural as the gold standard when it comes to third-party certs.

RELATED: What do they mean?! How to decipher beauty certifications.


Best mineral sunscreen overall

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a screenshot of a message from a reader who appreciated the recommendation for the eleven body sunscreen


Best drugstore mineral sunscreen

If you need an SPF stat and only have access to a drugstore, these are the ones we’d recommend picking up on the go. We’d also skip the following brands, which might have mineral sunscreen options, but we don’t love the inactive ingredients: Sun Bum, Supergoop and Bare Republic (not to mention the traditional brands’ versions of mineral sunscreens).


Best mineral sunscreen for families

If it’s more than just you in your household and you need volume as much as you need accessibility and ease of use, these picks are for you. We reach for them for our families again and again.


A few more best natural sunscreen recs

We also love recommending Raw Elements’s plastic free line, and we can get on board with Native’s Unscented Mineral SPF 30 (skip the scented options, as the brand doesn’t disclose what’s in their fragrance).

For more, check out tips on how to read sunscreen labels, our top picks for eco-friendly sunscreens and our top picks for tinted face SPF!

What’s your favorite body SPF?

xo, TNK Team in cursive

TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. 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.


REFERENCES:

1. Bever, Lindsey; Washington Post; Climate and Environment, Hawaii just banned your favorite sunscreen to protect its coral reefs; July 6th, 2018

2. FDA Proposes Sunscreen Regulation Changes, February 2019

3. Yim S, Lee J, Hae J, Scholten J, Willingham R, Nicoll J, Baswan SM. Chrysanthemum Morifolium Extract And Ascorbic Acid-2-Glucoside (AA2G) Blend Inhibits UVA-Induced Delayed Cyclobutane Pyrimidine Dimer (CPD) Production In Melanocytes. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2019;12:823. | 2. Rojas JO, Londoño CE, Ciro YH. The health benefits of natural skin UVA photoprotective compounds found in botanical sources. Int J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2016;8(3):13-23. | 3. Lorigo M, Cairrao E. Antioxidants as stabilizers of UV filters: an example for the UV-B filter octylmethoxycinnamate. Biomedical Dermatology. 2019 Dec 1;3(1):11. | 4. Leccia MT, Béani JC. Protection by Antioxidants Against UV-Induced Damage. Trace Elements and Free Radicals in Oxidative Diseases. 1994 May 30:233

4. Plastic Action Centre; Plastic Marketplace, Infographic; Plastic by the numbers

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!

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Bella

    This is a terrific, thorough, and helpful review – thank you. What do you recommend for faces at the beach? Looking for one for myself and one for the family. And what do you recommend for faces in daily city life? I read your review of tinted face sunscreens, however I don’t care for tinted because it gets on my towels and masks…If you can point me in a good direction we leave for the beach this weekend!! Thanks a bunch!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Bella! I would recommend checking out this post – we detail out best face SPFs for everyday and also the beach too. City life you want to protect against pollution but zinc does that and that’s the active ingredient in all of these SPFs so you are covered for that automatically. Hope this helps! xo, Lisa

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