The 15 Best Mineral Sunscreens, From a Silky Serum to an Acne-Safe Option
Let’s start with the basics. Sunscreens come in two forms: chemical and physical (also known as mineral). The main difference between the two are that chemical sunscreens absorb into your skin, whereas physical sunscreens sit on top of it. Both have their pros and cons, so choosing a sunscreen you’ll actually wear comes down to personal preference and skin type.
Generally speaking, mineral formulas are better tolerated by more people. As Dr. Hadley King, a NYC-based dermatologist explained to us: “I recommend physical sunscreens because they block a wide range of UV wavelengths and they are photostable. And there are fewer concerns about their potential adverse effects both to the body and to the environment.”
They also have the advantage of offering immediate protection (as opposed to chemical sunscreens, which require at least 20 minutes to absorb to work their magic), last longer and are less likely to cause irritation or breakouts because they don’t actually absorb into your skin.
Not sure which formula to try first? These 15 mineral sunscreens never disappoint.
1. VERSED SKIN GUARDS UP DAILY MINERAL BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 35
Calling all skincare obsessives: Think of this formula as a three-for-one. It protects against the sun, environmental pollution and blue light. Even better, the mineral formula absorbs quickly and actually feels refreshing on the skin—all without a chalky finish.
2. ELEVEN BY VENUS UNRIVALED SUN SERUM SPF 35
Tennis star Venus Williams partnered with clean beauty leaders Credo Beauty to create two mineral sunscreens that could withstand the elements. We were particularly impressed by the “sun serum” here because of its sheer texture and elegant application. The dropper top dispenses a silky fluid that sinks into your skin nicely, leaving a semi-matte finish.
3. ELTA MD UV CLEAR BROAD-SPECTRUM SPF 40
Best for Acne-Prone Skin
We were first introduced to this brand by a dermatologist years ago following a particularly bad bout of hormonal acne in our twenties. It’s non-comedogenic (read: it won’t clog your pores), has niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) and lactic acid to help clear up and calm your skin. As far as the user experience goes, it’s creamy to the touch, blends easily and has no trace of fragrance. Which is why, eight years later, it’s still in our medicine cabinet.
4. Isdin Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen
This lightweight sunscreen combines zinc oxide with a blend of antioxidants and peptides to tackle existing sun damage, while protecting against further UV damage. The texture is incredibly silky and thinner than most other formulas, which makes it easy to spread evenly over your skin.
5. Supergoop Invincible Setting Powder SPF 45
Best for Reapplication
This convenient powder makes it easy to keep your SPF intact, thanks to its retractable brush that dispenses sheer mineral sunscreen onto your skin in a few passes. Plus, it’s exceptionally lightweight. Formulated with silica, ceramides and olive glycerides, it also helps set your makeup and reduce shine.
6. Suntegrity Skincare Natural Mineral Body Sunscreen SPF 30
Best for Body
Unscented and vegan, this sunscreen is free of harsh chemicals, non-greasy and full of antioxidants. With organic ingredients like green tea extract, cucumber extract and pomegranate seed oil, it’s a formula your skin will appreciate from tip to toe.
7. CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Let us count the reasons why we love CeraVe’s sunscreen: It’s a mineral formula, it gives great coverage and it provides the moisture we didn’t realize we needed, with three essential ceramides that work to restore your skin’s natural barrier.
8. REN CLEAN SKINCARE CLEAN SCREEN MINERAL SPF 30 MATTIFYING FACE SUNSCREEN
Best for Oily Skin
Midday shine is the worst, but that’s nothing this sunscreen can’t solve. It’s mattifying formula means you won’t look the slightest bit greasy, and because it’s made with fast-absorbing, clean zinc oxide, it won’t irritate or clog pores.
9. NEUTROGENA Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Best for Outdoors
Neutrogena was our first ride-or-die face sunscreen. And now we can add this sheer zinc oxide formula to our list of drugstore must-haves. Not only is the water-resistant SPF 50 sunscreen made with natural zinc oxide, but it also contains Purescreen Technology which absorbs, scatters and reflects UV rays, without any chemicals.
10. JOSH ROSEBROOK NUTRIENT DAY CREAM TINTED SPF 30
Best for Working From Home
OK, this one’s a relative splurge. But it’s also vegan and certified organic, full of all the good stuff (aloe vera, shea butter) and subtly tinted to even out your skin tone. It’s basically a sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation in one…so kind of a steal when you think about it, really?
11. COOLA ORGANIC MINERAL SUN SILK CREME SPF30
Best for Dry Skin
If you haven’t been able to get on board with mineral sunscreen, try the Organic Mineral Sun Silk Creme from Coola. It’s so lightweight, that it feels like a regular moisturizer and it rubs in with ease. Plus, it’s made with more than 70 percent organic ingredients and features the brand’s plant-derived Full Spectrum 360 complex, which also helps mitigate the effects of blue light, infrared light and pollution.
12. Ilia Moondance Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
Best for Sensitive Skin
This talc-free SPF 20 powder from Ilia won’t just protect you from the sun, it’ll enhance your skin too. Aloe leaf extract, passion fruit and rosemary oil combine to soothe and fight inflammation while you wear it. And we love the fact that you can easily remove and clean the brush head to ensure there’s no buildup.
13. BEAUTYCOUNTER COUNTERSUN MINERAL SUNSCREEN STICK SPF 30
The minute it’s safe to travel again, you bet we’ll be booking a tropical vacation for at least two weeks. And when that time comes, we’ll be tucking this solid mineral sunscreen stick from Beautycounter in our suitcase. It’s TSA-friendly, reef-friendly, ultra-hydrating (thanks to cocoa butter) and super sheer, so it won’t leave behind a chalky residue.
14. Olay Regenerist Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Best for Daily Wear
This mineral superstar blocks both UV and HEV light from penetrating your skin, thanks to zinc oxide. It also has vitamin B3 and amino peptides, which help support your skin’s natural renewal process, so it actually improves your complexion while protecting it over time. The moisturizing formula also applies like a dream.
15. ILIA SUPER SERUM SKIN TINT SPF 40
If you like a product that works as both daily SPF and makeup, look no further than this super-popular skin tint from Ilia. It features zinc oxide sunscreen, light to medium coverage and a whole slew of beneficial skincare ingredients (think: hyaluronic acid, plant-based Squalane and Niacinamide). Plus, it leaves a dewy finish, for the best version of your natural skin.