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When it comes to sunscreen, the absolute most important thing is that you’re using one. It’s imperative that you find a sunscreen you like and are going to use. Make sure your mineral sunscreen pick has a broad-spectrum formula that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has at least an SPF of 30. If your daily activities include swimming or getting a sweaty workout in, water-resistant formulas will be essential to slather on—reapplying every hour or so to ensure continuous coverage.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Our best overall pick, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Lightweight Sunscreen, goes on sheer and protects your skin from blue light in addition to UV light. Its antioxidant-rich formula doesn't pill under makeup. For a more affordable pick, consider Neutrogena's Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen, which has a non-greasy finish and offers SPF 50 protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Mineral sunscreens are physical blockers, which deflect the rays away from the skin opposed to chemical options, which absorb UV rays. Chemical blockers have come under some scrutiny as of late, due to recent findings concerning the efficacy of chemical ingredients and how much of them penetrate the bloodstream.
On the other hand, the two most commonly used mineral ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are both sunscreen ingredients the FDA has deemed to be generally safe and effective. Mineral formulas also have the benefit of being much less irritating, especially if your skin skews toward sensitivity.
We went to work and tried a handful of top-rated mineral based sunscreens spanning a range of budgets, skin types, and concerns. After using them for weeks at a time, our testers rated each formula's texture and feel and how well it protected their skin from sun damage. We then combined these results with the recommendations of board-certified dermatologist, Marisa Garshick, MD and our own research to compile a list of the best in show.
Keep reading for the best mineral sunscreens to wear daily.
Best Overall: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
Amazingly undetectable formula doesn't pill under makeup
Contains protective antioxidants
Oil-free formula contains ferulic acid for clear skin
If you have dry skin, you may want to layer a moisturizer underneath
Who else recommends it? Healthline, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan all picked Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Sunscreen.
If you’re going to reach for one sunscreen day in and day out, make it this one. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed. It truly goes on more sheer—both in color and feeling—than any mineral formula we’ve ever used. (And we’ve used a lot of them.) It’s oil-free and contains sea buckthorn, ferulic acid, and lingonberry for antioxidant protection; some research suggests that the latter may help combat blue light damage. A perfect addition to your everyday skincare routine, truly.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 oz | Free of: Chemical sunscreens, parabens, phthalates | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
“I love the clear little tube-like applicator on this Dr. Dennis Gross sunscreen. It makes it really easy to measure out your SPF using the "two-finger" rule that my dermatologist recommends—cover your index and middle finger with a strip of SPF and you'll reach the protection level you see on the label. That, and it blends beautifully (no white-cast) and doesn't pill under makeup." —Holly Rhue, Senior Editor
Best Budget: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Soothing paraben-free formula
Texture is somewhat thick
This trusty drugstore find offers broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection against UVA and UVB rays thanks to naturally sourced 100% zinc oxide. Even better, it uses a special dry-touch technology that ensures you won’t be left feeling greasy after application. Is your skin on the sensitive side? Fear not. “It’s especially great for those with sensitive skin, as it’s free of fragrance, parabens, phthalates, and dyes and has been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance,” says Garshick.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 2 oz | Free of: Oils, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, dyes, octinoxate, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Face: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Soothing formula contains algae
Moisturizes skin with botanical extracts
Despite an impressive 20% concentration of zinc oxide, this never leaves your complexion white or chalky (no matter your skin tone) and has a sheer texture that melts beautifully into the skin. “It’s a great option for the face, as it’s also rich in antioxidants like raspberry seed oil, astaxanthin-rich algae extract, and sunflower seed extracts to help protect against free radical damage,” says Garshick. Think of sunscreen and antioxidants as peanut butter and jelly—each is good on its own, but even better when combined.
Type: Physical | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 3 oz | Free of: Fragrance, essential oils, silicones, octinoxate, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Enlarged Pores: Supergoop! Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40
Mattifying formula blurs pores
Butterfly bush extract protects skin from blue light
When your pores look large and in charge, the last thing you want is for a thick, oily sunscreen to accentuate their appearance. That’s what makes this ultra-light, translucent SPF such a great pick. In addition to being a 100% mineral sunscreen with SPF 40, it dries to a blurring matte finish that helps smooth the skin’s appearance and reduce the look of problem pores. “It also protects against blue light, as it contains butterfly bush extract, and contains white mulberry root, which helps to brighten the skin and improve tone,” adds Garshick. Wear it under your foundation as a skin-protecting primer or on its own for a no-makeup makeup look sans grease.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.5 oz | Free of: Parabens, sulfates, gluten, fragrance, octinoxate, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: Up to 40 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: Dr. Brandt Skincare Liquid Sun Shield Daily Brightening Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Clary sage ferment helps fade dark spots
Pricier than other options
When it comes to sunscreen that doubles as skincare, this luxe serum from Dr. Brandt Skincare can’t be beaten. Not only does it offer broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection against UVA and UVB rays via non-nano zinc oxide, but it’s infused with plankton extract to protect against hyperpigmentation and clary sage ferment to brighten and even out your complexion. It leaves behind an invisible finish, so there’s no need to worry about a pesky white cast, and it also makes an excellent base for makeup.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 oz | Free of: Parabens, fragrance, formaldehyde, phthalates, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Under Makeup: Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Has a subtle tint
Green tea extract reduces redness
Moisturizing formula contains vitamin E
Small bottle size
This chemical-free sunscreen from Unsun Cosmetics provides SPF 30 protection and a subtle tint that imparts a healthy glow on all skin tones. It’s also chock full of skincare benefits, formulated with antioxidant-rich shea butter, plankton extract, green tea leaf extract, and vitamin E to hydrate the skin and offer additional protection from UV rays, infrared radiation, and pollution. All in all, it makes for a perfect base under makeup since it blends so magically into the skin, but it’s also a great choice for the days you want to go sans makeup (but still give your skin a little something).
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.5 oz | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, octinoxate, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for On-the-Go: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Provides pollution and blue light protection
Powder makes reapplication easy
Comes in a few shades
Not ideal for dry skin
This powder protector is not only perfect for travel (no spills here) but also makes reapplication—derms recommend reapplying every two hours—easier than ever. “This is a great option, as it can be easily applied over makeup and can be used on the go,” says Garshick. “It contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and incorporates Enviroscreen technology to provide protection not only against UVA and UVB rays, but also pollution, blue light, and infrared radiation.” It also comes in four different shades that blend into a wide range of skin tones, so it’s guaranteed you’ll find a perfect match.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 30 to 50 | Size: 0.21 oz | Free of: Oils, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, octinoxate, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Active: EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
No white cast
Leaves behind a slightly shiny residue
This formula is often recommended by dermatologists, and it should be a go-to for anyone who loves outdoor activities. Nine percent clear zinc oxide protects you even through the most grueling workouts, so you can be sure it will do the job even if you’re just out for a walk. “It’s easy to apply and especially good for those who are active, as it won’t sting or drip when you sweat," says Garshick. Plus, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and provides broad-spectrum coverage against UVA and UVB rays. "It’s also non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores and rubs in easily without leaving a white cast.”
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, tocopheryl acetate | SPF: 50 | Size: 3 oz | Free of: Oils, fragrance, parabens, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Lightweight: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion SPF 50+
No white cast
One of our perennial go-to’s, this formula uses straight-up zinc oxide for powerful protection and also contains DNA repairsomes, ingredients that help reverse previous sun damage (ideal if you haven’t been so on top of your sunscreen game in the past). It’s also a favorite of Garshick, who loves its absorbency. “This ultralight zinc sunscreen absorbs so well it’s often hard to believe it contains zinc,” she says. Give it a good shake before applying, then prepare to be amazed by how quickly and easily it disappears.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 3.4 oz | Free of: Parabens, octinoxate, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: Up to 40 minutes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35
Prickly pear stem extract boosts radiance
Soothing formula contains safflower
In her new line, Venus Williams created a hybrid skincare sun-protector. The formula is infused with calming, hydrating, and firming prickly pear stem extract and protective safflower oleosomes, micron-sized spheres that house safflower oil. Super lightweight, it goes on transparently on all skin tones—even dark complexions. Plus, it’s clean, vegan, and reef-safe.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 35 | Size: 1 oz | Free of: Oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Tinted: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
Antioxidant-formula is very hydrating
Gorgeous tint with a beautiful glow
Only available in one shade
This classic formula relies on two mineral blockers, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and has a consistency more akin to a tinted moisturizer than a sunscreen. It’s antioxidant-rich formula is so hydrating that you can easily skip moisturizer to leave your skin even and with a gorgeous glow.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 36 | Size: 2.6 oz | Free of: Fragrance, parabens, chemical sunscreens | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Body: COOLA Mineral Body Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Easy-to-use spray applicator
Requires some rubbing to blend in well
There are now mineral spray options available, including this one. Fast-absorbing and non-greasy, it has a 14.2% concentration of zinc oxide, along with a blend of protective plant-based antioxidants to act as a second line of defense against skin-damaging free radicals. We also appreciate that it’s fragrance-free and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 5 oz | Free of: Fragrance, parabens, phthalates, chemical sunscreens | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Hybrid Formula: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Infused with niacinamide and lactic acid to help acne-prone skin
Goes on totally clear
Not very hydrating
If you’re not looking for a strictly mineral-based formula, consider this option. It’s a hybrid that blends zinc oxide and octinoxate, a chemical sunscreen ingredient. We love how the formula goes on totally clear. We also like it as an option for acne-prone skin since it’s not only oil-free but also touts anti-inflammatory niacinamide and gently exfoliating lactic acid.
Type: Mineral & chemical | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, octinoxate | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 oz | Free of: Fragrance | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
“EltaMD UV Clear is simply the best of the best. The formula goes on completely clear—so clear that it's impossible to believe it's a mineral formula." —Holly Rhue, Senior Editor
Best for Sensitive Skin: Alastin Silk Shield All Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Extremely gentle and non-irritating
TriHex technology diminishes signs of skin aging
By definition, any mineral sunscreen is going to be a better bet for the easily irritated set, since minerals are more inert and generally thought to be less likely to cause any kind of allergy or reaction than organic sunscreen filters (which are commonly known as “chemical” SPFs). The zinc oxide-based formula is oil- and fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and so gentle that it can even be used on post-procedure skin (think after treatments such as lasers or microneedling). Not to mention, you also get the added benefit of the brand’s patented TriHex technology, a blend of peptides that helps build healthy new collagen and elastin.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.9 oz | Free of: Fragrance, parabens, chemical sunscreens | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sunscreen Haters: ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
Hyaluronic acid and squalane provide intense hydration
Available in 30 shades
Formula is somewhat runny
This formula is part serum, part foundation. It contains plant-based squalane and two types of hyaluronic acid, which penetrate at various levels of the skin to impart tons of hydration. The coverage is gorgeous, sheer, and glowy and comes in an impressive range of 30 shades. (Pro tip: The color does change a little after you apply it, so let it sit for 30 to 60 seconds before blending.) Its broad-spectrum SPF 40 sun protection formula contains a 12% concentration of zinc oxide.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1 oz. | Free of: Fragrance, parabens, phthalates, chemical sunscreens | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dewy Skin : Kinfield Sunglow SPF 30
Dewy, dolphin-like finish
Sunflower extract, sea kelp, and aloe deliver intense hydration
Only comes in one tinted shade
For those who like buildable coverage, this formula makes a fabulous final step, offering broad-spectrum SPF protection while glazing the skin with a sheer, cushiony finish. The lightweight formula absorbs easily and quickly into skin without any trace or white cast. It looks and feels like a highlighter though its formula is water and sweat-resistant.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide 20% | SPF: 35 | Size: 2 oz. | Free of: Parabens, phthalates, chemical sunscreens | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Editors Say
"This sunscreen is so creamy and radiant it feels amazing going on and not only brightens my complexion in an instant, but helps to define and illuminate features. It's a daily go-to for sure." — Jill Di Donato, Senior Commerce Editor
Best for Rosacea: La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Face Sunscreen-SPF 60
Effectively gives maximum UV protection
Fragrance, oil, and paraben-free formula is ideal for sensitive, easily inflamed skin
Takes some rubbing in
With a milky texture, this formula glides on smooth with a natural finish, and is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin or those with rosacea who are prone to flare-ups. Antioxidants help protect from free radical damage and also cushion the skin, leaving a silky feel.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 11% | SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 oz. | Free of: Octinoxate, oils, parabens, chemical sunscreen filters, fragrance, oxybenzone | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
When it comes to mineral sunscreens, our best overall pick is Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30. The antioxidant-rich formula goes on completely sheer and doesn't pill under makeup. For a more affordable option, consider Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. This drugstore favorite provides non-greasy, broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection and it’s a great pick for those with sensitive skin since it omits irritants like fragrance and dyes.
Meet the Expert
Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS: Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers and is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Cornell University.
What to Look For
At Least SPF 30 Protection
When it comes to the amount of SPF protection in a sunscreen, Garshick stresses the importance of using a formula that contains SPF 30 or higher. “When applied and reapplied correctly, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 15 is thought to block just 93%,” she says. However, there’s also no need to shop for products with a super high SPF amount, either. According to a recent report by EWG, sunscreens offering SPF protection above 50 may not necessarily provide stronger protection against UV rays, so there’s no need to look for anything higher than that.
In addition to high enough SPF protection, Garshick says that broad-spectrum protection is also just as important. “This indicates coverage against both UVA and UVB rays,” she says. “While it’s thought that UVB rays are responsible for sunburns and UVA rays are responsible for skin aging, both types of rays can contribute to skin cancer.”
If you’ll be swimming and/or sweating a lot, you should also be using a water-resistant formula. “No matter what type of sunscreen you’re using, it’s important to understand the label and be aware of whether it’s water-resistant, and if so, for how long,” says Garshick. “This is important because you should reapply sunscreen if exposed to water after 40 or 80 minutes, based on what’s indicated on the label.”
Purely Mineral Formulas
As we mentioned above, some sunscreens can contain a combination of mineral and chemical ingredients, so be sure to check the label to see if it’s a purely mineral formula versus a mix of mineral blockers and chemical filters. “Mixed formulas aren’t a big problem unless you’re specifically trying to avoid chemical sunscreen ingredients,” says Garshick. “Always make sure to read the label and look at the active ingredients so you understand what you’re using.”
How can you tell if a sunscreen is mineral or chemical?
Read into its ingredient list. “Mineral sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while chemical sunscreens use chemical filters including avobenzone and octinoxate,” says Garshick.
Is mineral sunscreen better than chemical sunscreen?
When choosing between mineral or chemical sunscreen, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. “The best sunscreen is the one you will use, regardless of whether it’s mineral or chemical,” says Garshick. However, as she explains, mineral sunscreens are thought to be better options for anyone with sensitive skin as some chemical ingredients can be irritating.
Some prefer to use mineral over chemical, as chemical sunscreens have been shown to absorb into the bloodstream and are thought to potentially lead to health risks—however, Garshick stresses that they are still considered safe to use. “Although some studies have shown that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream, it doesn’t necessarily mean these ingredients are unsafe or that the amount that is absorbed is enough to cause problems or concerns, so further research is needed,” she says. “For this reason, the FDA recommends either type of sunscreen in conjunction with other sun-protective measures.” That said, whether you choose chemical or mineral, be sure to still wear protective clothing and accessories whenever possible and limit exposure to the midday sun.
Does mineral sunscreen expire?
All sunscreens—mineral included—will eventually expire. Most sunscreens typically last for up to three years after the date of purchase unless otherwise noted on the packaging. Garshick says it’s important to check the product’s expiration date and keep track of how long you’ve had it for, as expired sunscreens aren’t effective in protecting against harmful sun rays.
Are mineral sunscreens water-resistant?
Planning on going for a swim? Not all mineral sunscreens are created equal, and some products may be water-resistant while others won’t be. “It depends on the specific formulation, so it’s always important to check the label,” says Garshick.
Are mineral sunscreens reef-safe?
Based on current research, Garshick says that mineral sunscreens are considered reef-safe. “That said, the term ‘reef-safe’ doesn’t have an official definition, so more research and formal testing requirements would be needed to truly determine what is considered to be reef-safe,” she says.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. A skincare junkie, sunscreen is her absolute, number one, must-have product—specifically mineral sunscreen, which her sensitive and easily-irritated skin much prefers. She’s a personal fan of all of the products on this list and especially loves the Colorescience option as the perfect way to make reapplication easier than ever.
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