Mineral sunscreen—that is, SPF that relies on zinc or titanium dioxide—is skyrocketing in popularity. Not only are the formulas reef-safe, but they also tend to be gentler on skin. “Mineral sunscreens are sunscreens that use zinc oxide by itself, or in combination with titanium dioxide to block UV light,” explains New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. “Many people think that zinc-only based sunscreens are more natural and feel more comfortable applying those types of sunscreens on their skin.”
Mineral Sunscreens Protect Against UV and Blue Light
Zinc sunscreens may be a better choice from an overall skincare perspective as well. “I will typically recommend a zinc-oxide-based or mineral blocker for sensitive skin, because they tend to be a little more gentle on the skin,” says Zeichner. This type of sunscreen also helps protect against HEV, or high-energy visible light, a.k.a. blue light. “Light within the blue visible spectrum has been shown to deeply penetrate the skin and promote premature aging, including sun spots and wrinkles,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “Mineral blockers like zinc oxide protect against some level of HEV light, while chemical blockers do not.”
But Does It Apply Clear on Darker Skin?
In the past, the downside to mineral sunscreens has been their opaque, white consistency, which has made it harder to blend into skin (and therefore, making you less likely to use or reapply it). But science has finally caught up with user behavior. “The newest generation of mineral sunscreens use micronized technology so that they fully rub into the skin, not leaving behind a white cast, or an ashy appearance on darker complexions,” explains Zeichner. Read on for 13 easy-to-wear, easy-to-blend zinc sunscreens we recommend for spending time at the beach, the park, or just in front of your laptop.
Weightless Liquid Mineral SPF 30
First Aid Beauty
This tinted face sunscreen may be new to the scene, but it’s already earned a loyal fanbase thanks to its lightweight, blendable texture.
Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Fragrance-Free
Love Sun Body
The clean sun brand recently revamped its lotions for a more sheer, dry consistency. If your skin is especially sensitive, go for the fragrance-free version.
Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40 PA
Fans of Supergoop’s chemical offerings will be happy to know their mineral options are just as effective (and easy to wear). This lotion in particular is extra lightweight, making it ideal for acne-prone skin.
No white cast? Check. Absorbs quickly? Check. Added moringa seed extract and sea fennel to for added protection against pollution and blue light? Check, check, and check.
Mineral Spray Sunscreen – SPF 30
“Not all mineral sunscreens are created equal, even if they have the same ingredient list. Sun Bum products really do fully rub in,” says Zeichner of this zinc-based spray. Just be sure to spray it directly on skin in a well-ventilated area, then rub it in.
A plant-based probiotic and anti-aging turmeric give this barely tinted SPF major skincare appeal (depending on your skin, you may even be able to skip moisturizer).
Invisible Physical Defense Sunscreen SPF 30
Many mineral sunscreens can still take a minute to rub in, but in our experience, this green-tea-infused lotion is just as invisible as it claims to be.
Sun-è-Serum Drops SPF 35
Despite a high concentration of zinc oxide (25 percent), this silky sunscreen serum(!) remains sinks in remarkably easily.
Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Scented Sunscreen
A mix of 10 antioxidants and nutrients give this zinc-only lotion a boost of skin-soothing powers.
Squalane Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA
One of our favorite moisturizing ingredients, squalane, helps this lotion sink into skin within seconds without feeling dry or pasty.
Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
The fresh, glowy tint and antioxidant-packed formula satisfy both makeup-at-the-beach and makeup-free types alike.
Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion for Sensitive Skin & Children Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Unlike, well, pretty much all sunscreens, this formula has WetForce technology that makes it more effective when it’s wet. (Still, don’t forget to reapply when you towel off.)
Mineral Sport Sun Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 30
A blend of coconut oil and shea butter create the base of this non-greasy stick, which is handy for keeping on the go for hands-free application or for smaller areas like the ears.
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