the ultimate guide to natural sunscreens

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No matter where you are in the “Should I Be Wearing Sunscreen?” green beauty discussion, I think everyone can agree that protecting your skin is imperative to keeping it youthful and soft, be it through mineral sun protection, shade, clothing or avoiding the sun at high-exposure times.

I’m in the “use natural sunscreen” camp, and I’ve tried several natural face sunscreens over the years.

I will admit that I haven’t found a natural body sunscreen that I love and do use conventional sunscreen sprays on my body to keep it burn-free.

However, I’ve found several wonderful natural sunscreen options for my face and neck and am excited to share my faves (and the duds) with you in this ever-growing post!

Keep this bookmarked to see what other natural sunscreens I add to the lists!

A Note About My Skin: I’m half-Asian, so I have olive / yellow undertones and can easily look very Casper-ish with natural sunscreens that don’t blend well.

Another Note: This little asterisk* indicates I received the natural sunscreen as a PR sample. So, yes, free stuff as well as paid-for-on-my-own stuff gets honest feedback around here!

(Like my ultimate guides? Find more guides and products you may love! Or, visit my faves page for a list of my top picks across multiple categories.)

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Natural Sunscreens I Will Repurchase

Acure Organics SPF 30 Continuous Spray Sunscreen

I’m not gonna lie — I had my doubts about this sunscreen. And if we’re being super-truthful here, I hate using mineral-based lotion sunscreens on my body. So that means … yes … I typically use chemical-based continuous sprays on my body.

Not anymore. I am thoroughly impressed with Acure Organics’ SPF 30 Continuous Spray Sunscreen. I get that convenient, all-over misting spray from head to toe with zero chemical smell (seriously!) and a non-sticky or tacky feeling. Just moisturizing goodness thanks to aloe, argan oil and safflower oil plus 12 percent zinc oxide. I wore this outside in direct sunlight for about two hours with zero burn. At times, the spray can leave a bit of white zinc, so rub in (as you should with a chemical spray sunscreen, too). No biggie here. As with any sunscreen, remember to reapply!

*Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish

New to me in summer 2014, Coola’s Mineral Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish has everything you’d want in a makeup primer — including a high SPF! Dimethicone gives it that slip, though, so if you’re avoiding this ingredient, you’ll want to pass on this natural sunscreen. I use this as a base if I’m wearing heavier-than-normal makeup so that my skin doesn’t feel like it has a billion layers of product on it.

*Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30

With 12 percent uncoated, non-nano zinc oxide and a host of herbal infusions, soothing oils and healing butters, Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 is the real deal when it comes to an all-in-one daytime moisturizer replacement. This is one you can easily wear year-round to both protect and heal your skin. There’s no risk of feeling like you’re skimping on your skincare when you replace your daily moisturizing cocktail with cream.

Which leads me to this: I love layering products, but be aware of the types of products you layer under SPF. I used my typical gel toner under this, and it pilled. After switching it up with a light base layer of oil to feed my skin right out of the shower, Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 glided on with no white nubs or a white cast. You don’t have to use an oil under this at all, but I love the ritual of applying it directly onto damp skin post-shower.

Mineral Fusion Mineral SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defense

There’s seriously no reason to get a sunburn on your face. Between using an SPF lotion either in or independent of your foundation as well as dusting on Mineral Fusion’s Mineral SPF 30 Brush-On Defense throughout the day if you’re in direct sunlight, you are covered. I love how easy Mineral Fusion makes it to reapply sunscreen over your makeup every day; this translucent powder with 17.3 percent titanium dioxide and 20 percent zinc oxide keeps your face shine-free and protected. You can also dust it onto your chest and arms as well as your hairline if you’re in direct sunlight and have a sensitive scalp. This belongs in every beauty bag, period.

Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen

Pratima’s Neem Rose Face Sunscreen is my absolute favorite that I recommend over and over again. I discovered this natural sunscreen in 2011 and have been a fan of its silky formula and subtly scent of rose, neem and licorice ever since. I can’t rave more and more about this sunscreen — it’s a deserted island staple for sure.

*Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer

Though it feels a bit sticky at first application, Suntegrity’s Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer blends beautifully into your skin and smells of fresh citrus. It’s perfect for those with oily skin that want a sunscreen whose texture feels like it’s “mopping up” excess oil. It’s also one of those fabulous multipurpose products thanks to its primer properties; no shine here!

Natural Sunscreens I Will Repurchase But Only Wear in the Winter

Badger Damascus Rose SPF 16 Face Sunscreen Lotion

Badger’s Damascus Rose SPF 16 Face Sunscreen Lotion is clearly a winner, but it stays in this conditional, in-between category because of its lower SPF rating. If your sunscreen’s not SPF 30, it’s kind of pointless to wear unless it’s not really sunny and you’re inside all day. Badger is reformulating all of its sunscreens for release in early 2015, so I’m crossing my fingers for this one to re-debut as an SPF 30.

*Consonant 100% Natural Matte Finish Sunscreen

I fell in love with the creamy, smooth texture of Consonant’s 100% Natural Matte Finish Sunscreen, but it suffers the same fate as Badger above. SPF 15 just won’t cut it. Consonant does, however, make a “Perfect Sunscreen” that’s SPF 30, so onto the wish list it goes!

Natural Sunscreens I Will Repurchase But Only Wear At the Pool or Beach

*California Naturel Sunscreen SPF 30

California Naturel’s Sunscreen SPF 30 took a bit to rub into my skin (and I feared the white cast for a bit until I really massage it in), but after one application and several hours in the sun, this natural sunscreen performed! I didn’t redden or burn, and though re-application was a bit of a pain (again, massaging it in), I didn’t feel like it immediately slid off my face when I sweat or took a dip in the water.

With that said, I reserve this for outdoor activities only because it feels kind of thick and does take that extra time to apply to the skin.

*California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30 Sunblock Stick

I’ve noted how cute California Baby’s No Fragrance SPF 30 Sunblock Stick is in my previous review, but for me, this cuteness is designated for summer beach bags only. It’s not an absolutely necessary product for year-round use. Instead, it’s a great addition to your beach bag that encourages you to remember to cover your ears, exposed moles and other random body parts with SPF.

*MyChelle Dermaceuticals SunShield Coconut SPF 28

Coconut lovers, this one’s for you! The quintessential scent of summer, coconut rules MyChelle Dermaceuticals’ SunShield SPF 28. I love the scent of it, and the application is perfect: clear (no white cast!) and no pilling. Active ingredients titanium dioxide (0.67%) and zinc oxide 11.6% shield your skin from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Healing aloe leaf juice powder helps with pain relief and reduces inflammation. My main feedback for this sunscreen: Can we please get it to SPF 30?! Why 28?

I reserve MyChelle Dermaceuticals SunShield SPF 28 for a summer repurchase because of its coconut scent. It’s not something I want to use year-round because of it (how sad would it make me to smell coconuts and see snow in January?!). The formulation is also a bit sticky, which I don’t mind for summertime pool and beach trips. That stickiness helps me remember to reapply when it doesn’t feel as balmy anymore, but it’s a no-go for layering daily skincare and makeup. Also available for purchase at Pharmaca.

Natural Sunscreens I Will Not Repurchase

*DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+

After this post went live, a lot of you asked about DeVita, and I totally forgot that yes, I have tried it, and no, unfortunately, it’s not a repurchase for me.

The texture was fine, and it didn’t leave that white cast, but I found that as I massaged it into my skin, the formula would “ball up” and these little white particles, similar in texture when you use a pencil eraser and the little nubby things would deposit onto the paper, would appear on my skin.

I do not like little white nubby things on my face. It kind of cramps my style and makes makeup application a nightmare.

*Eminence Tomato Sun Cream SPF 16

Besides the SPF being lower than my preference, I’m just not a fan of the packaging of Eminence’s Tomato Sun Cream SPF 16. A jar? No, no, no. When I’m outside, sweaty and reapplying sunscreen, the last thing I want to do is stick my fingers into a jar of sunscreen. Pumps, squeeze bottles or sprays only, please. If Eminence could re-evaluate the packaging, this one could move up to the “natural sunscreens I will repurchase but only wear in the winter” category.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening SPF 15 Moisturizer

With 14% zinc oxide and SPF 15, this daytime moisturizer is on to something … but it’s just not quite enough. While the percentage of zinc is almost to my minimum, the texture is what I had the most trouble with. Simply put, this stuff is sticky. It doesn’t spread well and leaves my skin feeling tacky. For that kind of crazy texture, I at least want maximum SPF and protection for a day at the pool!

*Seedling Sun Sensitive SPF 30 Sunscreen

While I loved the texture and overall weightless feeling that this sunscreen delivered, I was troubled by the fact that it’s only 5 percent zinc and 5 percent titanium dioxide. I’d like to see a higher mineral sunscreen content to ensure I remain burn-free without having to reapply constantly. (Typically, I look for a zinc oxide content near 15 percent or higher.)

*Sunday Riley Cashmere Mist SPF 30

I truly adored this sunscreen (read my review), but to be blunt, it’s just too damn expensive at $125 for 50 ml. My beloved Pratima sunscreen costs $28 for 60 ml, if that gives you some context.

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