Mineral sunscreens, also known as physical sunscreen, are free of chemicals that may be harmful to your skin, especially if your skin is sensitive or irritable. While zinc oxide has been found by the US Food and Drug Administration to be safe and effective, recent studies have raised concerns about ingredients found in chemical sunscreen: oxybenzone, homosalate and octocrylene. These studies, however, take into account large amounts of these ingredients, while chemical sunscreen uses only small amounts. Regardless, if you don’t want chemicals in your sunscreen, all-natural, mineral sunscreen (with the ideal SPF) is the way to go.
Mineral sunscreen reflects UV rays rather than absorbing them (which chemical sunscreen does). Mineral sunscreen uses zinc oxide to create a physical barrier on the skin. For this reason, experts find that mineral sunscreens may be more effective in protecting your skin from sun damage.
Here are my picks for the best mineral sunscreens out there right now.
How we chose the best mineral sunscreens
I tested about 30 products, from 25 different popular brands. The 15 best mineral sunscreen products on this list are the best of the best. I took into account each sunscreen’s SPF levels, added ingredients, amount of zinc oxide, consistency, feel, price and accessibility (whether it could be easily found at your local drug store or online). I applied each product to my naturally sensitive, acne-prone skin and tested how each sunscreen felt under the sun. I left the brands that irritated my skin off this list.
Best mineral sunscreens of 2023
Best mineral sunscreens for your skin type
Mineral sunscreens may not be the best for all skin types, but if you’re well informed on what aspects of sunscreen may irritate your skin, you can make the best choice.
Dry skin: Use mineral sunscreens that contain natural, moisturizing ingredients including aloe leaf juice, pomegranate seed oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil or various fruit extracts. Sunscreen can be added on top of moisturizer or on its own, depending on how dry your skin is.
Oily skin: Make sure to use mineral sunscreens that are oil free. Powder sunscreen might be the best, depending on how oily your skin is. If you choose a liquid or creamy mineral sunscreen, look for products that say noncomedogenic on the bottle, meaning it won’t clog pores.
Acne-prone skin: As with oily skin, pick sunscreens that are noncomedogenic, oil free, fragrance free, paraben free and irritation free. Thick mineral sunscreen often sits on the skin and clogs pores, so choose a lightweight or liquidy sunscreen.
Sensitive skin: I also have sensitive skin. I look for sunscreens that have minimal ingredients and are, first and foremost, free of fragrance. It also helps if the sunscreen is dermatologist tested, oil free, paraben free, irritation free and noncomedogenic.
Best mineral sunscreens FAQ