We Tried Dozens of Mineral Sunscreens—These Are the 15 Best
These mineral sunscreens go on completely sheer, so your skin never looks chalky.
Ask any dermatologist and they’ll probably tell you that it doesn’t matter which sunscreen you use, as long as you’re using it daily and covering yourself thoroughly. That being said, you definitely want to find a formula that you love and will be encouraged to use regularly.
There's been some confusion about the difference between mineral vs. chemical sunscreens. "The classic answer is that there is some dividing line between the [mineral] sunscreens that act like a blocking shield to reflect UV, and the [chemical] sunscreens that absorb UV rays," explains Ranella Hirsch, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Boston and co-founder of customized skincare brand Atolla. "Turns out, that isn't actually correct—both [chemical] and [mineral] sunscreens mainly absorb UV and turn it into heat."
If you do opt for a mineral sunscreen, Dr. Hirsch says to be prepared to rub it in, and try to limit the amount of products you layer underneath it.
Why Choose a Mineral Sunscreen?
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two sunscreen ingredients deemed fully safe and effective, according to recent FDA findings, not to mention that mineral formulas tend to be less irritating and problematic for sensitive or acne-prone skin. The only drawback is that they often leave a white or chalky residue on your skin, which can inhibit daily use. Good news: Mineral sunscreens are becoming more cosmetically elegant than ever, protecting your skin without leaving you looking like a ghost. Here are some of the best mineral sunscreens to wear this summer—and all year round.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
After you’ve applied your liquid mineral sunscreen in the a.m., reach for this brush-on shield from Colorescience to touch up your protection throughout the day. The mineral powder comes in four shades and works wonders over makeup.
EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41
The biggest complaint most folks have about mineral sunscreens is that they can leave an unsightly white cast—that isn’t the case with this pick from EltaMD. Not only does the SPF contain antioxidants to help fight free radicals, but it also has a slight tint to it, ideal for those with light to medium skin tones. Bonus: EltaMD is known for creating products geared towards sensitive skin and acne.
Avene Mineral Tinted Compact SPF 50
We love a good compact—especially when it features sun protection. This pick from Avene is a great swap for your regular foundation, as it features a lightweight tint to hide any imperfections. The cream-to-powder formula is easy to reapply throughout the day and is ideal for sensitive skin types.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Award-winning and a fan favorite, this Drunk Elephant sunscreen features antioxidants like grape juice, sunflower shoot extract, and astaxanthin to help minimize the appearance of aging while blocking UV rays from absorbing into the skin. Plus, the raspberry seed and marula oils add some extra moisture to your skin—ideal for those with drier skin types.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50
Not a fan of a thick film of sunscreen sitting atop your skin? Reach for this super lightweight pick from La Roche-Posay. The mineral fluid thoroughly protects your skin from harmful UV rays and is a great option for those who wear makeup often.
Pipette SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum
Safe enough for use on a delicate baby, this mineral sunscreen from Pipette features non-nano zinc oxide for broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and is a great pick for the entire family. Plus, the formula includes sugarcane-derived squalane to help moisturize and soothe your skin, too.
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Dr. Hirsch loves this sunscreen from SkinCeuticals because it’s “an elegant product under makeup and features shaka technology.” Meaning, when the emulsifiers in the sunscreen are shaken, it helps combine the ingredients so that the formula can penetrate into the skin faster, leaving little to no residue behind. This pick features both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.
ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
“This elegant emulsion product leaves no white cast and also has DNA Repairsomes to address prior sun damage,” explains Dr. Hirsch. This product is also super lightweight and contains vitamin E to help protect against environmental damage and fight against early signs of aging.
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++
If we could only use one sunscreen for the rest of our lives, it would be this multi-tasking superstar. Not only does it protect from sun damage, pollution, and blue light (the light emitted by the screens of electronic devices, which new research shows can be damaging to skin), it also has a subtle, peachy tint. This both mitigates the risk of any unwanted white residue and evens out your skin tone ever so slightly, an ideal pick for days when you want to go sans makeup.
Supergoop! Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30
Completely sheer, vegan, and reef-safe, this fan-favorite from Supergoop! offers SPF 30 protection and is great for darker skin tones that can’t use other mineral sunscreens without leaving a white cast. It’s great for oily skin and dries down beautifully.
Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Face Tint SPF 30
Non-greasy, non-comedogenic, and ideal for sensitive or acne-prone skin, this mineral SPF from Sun Bum offers a slight tint and is a great primer before makeup application.
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
You really can’t go wrong with a tried-and-true Neutrogena sunscreen. This pick features 100 percent zinc oxide, is water-resistant, and features “Dry-Touch technology” (aka no greasy finish once the sunscreen dries down).
Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
With a sheer cream-to-powder formula, this pick from Bare Republic dries down matte and is a popular pick for makeup enthusiasts. Plus, it contains shea butter for a bit of a moisture boost, as well as raspberry, grape, and carrot seed oils for antioxidant protection against free radical damage.
Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Tinted Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45
With safflower extract and vitamins C and E, this mineral-tinted sunscreen features light-scattering optics from Diamond Powder to give skin a natural-looking, radiant finish. The tint will blend seamlessly into most skin tones and should be reapplied every two hours for optimal protection.
Coppertone Pure and Simple Botanical Faces Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
Got sensitive skin? Not only does this bargain buy contain non-irritating zinc oxide for sun protection, but the entire formula is hypoallergenic and free of common irritants like fragrance and alcohol. It’s also non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to stress about clogged pores or breakouts. It’s admittedly a bit thicker than some of the other formulas, though once it’s fully rubbed in, you can’t see it. And while it comes in a bigger size, we’re fans of this smaller, TSA-approved tube for travel or when we’re on the go.