The Best Natural Sunscreen For Your Face
Protect and nourish the skin on your face with clean and natural sunscreen. This guide reviews 12 natural zinc oxide sunscreen brands for your face, with some top picks that won’t leave a white cast. Check out the best natural face sunscreens of 2020.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
I’ve been on the search for a natural and clean (free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, etc.) sunscreen with ZERO white cast after application, not too shiny and one that feels natural on my skin. Normally I like a low-budget find, but with face sunscreen, I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to spend some money to get a decent sunscreen product. Sunscreen is something you don’t want to skimp on, especially since there’s a risk of getting skin cancer. On my quest for the perfect sunscreen, I tested 12 brands of clean, natural sunscreen for the face and neck – read on for my reviews and favorite picks.
HOW I TESTED
I tested two different kinds of face sunscreens – one type is an everyday SPF with moisturizer that’s perfect for desk work, hanging out at home and running errands. This sunscreen contains a 10-19% zinc oxide formulation. The other type of sunscreen I tested is more heavy duty, used for hiking, running, skiing, beaching and other outdoor activities where you would spend considerable time outdoors. This type of sunscreen contains a 20-25% zinc oxide formulation.
To give you an idea of my skin type, I have extremely sensitive skin that burns pretty easily and reacts to fragrance. I also consider my skin to be very dry.
If you’re not sure what to look for in a sunscreen, check out our Natural Sunscreen Guide: Part 1. In this post I discuss what to look for in sunscreen and what ingredients to avoid.
All in all, I tested 12 brands of clean and natural face sunscreen, evaluating for:
- Did it leave a white cast? This is a no go for me. Since my skin is dry, any whiteness from sunscreen transfers to my dry skin flakes and looks terrible.
- Greasiness factor. I don’t like really shiny, greasy sunscreen.
- Hydration and moisture. My dry skin likes some hydration without the greasiness.
- Natural ingredients, no fragrance, zinc oxide as active ingredient and EWG score (some brands have not been scored yet).
- Reef safe- all brands I tested use non-nano zinc oxide (most brands listed this on their website, but I had to call a customer service rep for one brand).
I applied sunscreen every morning, and reapplied every 2 hours (If I was inside all day I didn’t reapply as often). I used each brand of sunscreen for at least a week, evaluating and taking notes. My 2 teen daughters also used some of the brands. Several times I applied one brand to one side of my face and another sunscreen brand to the other side of my face and let the family score the whiteness factor.
For the Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 and the Kari Gran Essential SPF 28, I used samples that had about 5 days worth of product. The Detox Market has samples of this sunscreen if you want to try before you buy. Choose 3 samples and pay $7.99 plus shipping. It’s a great way to test for sensitivity to products!
*Cost was calculated at the time this article was published, and is subject to change.
NATURAL FACE SUNSCREEN BRANDS TESTED
Fitglow Beauty Vita Shield SPF 30 Lotion
- Cost: $54 for 1.7 oz ($1.08 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 13% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: No rating at this time
- From the Fitglow Beauty website: Your everyday every season defense from sun damage & premature aging. The powerhouse environmental defense moisturizer to protect skin from what ages it most – UVA/UVB sun damage. Skin-soothing non-nano Zinc Oxide offers broad-spectrum sun protection to prevent sunburn, dark spots and fine lines. Natural Safflower Oleosomes, this moisturizer glides on evenly and smoothly to deliver all-day comfort and hydration. Antioxidant-rich Sunflower Oil boosts skin’s defense against free radical damage while improving moisture retention and elasticity. Daily use leaves skin protected, hydrated and balanced.
- My Take: This is my #1 pick for everyday work-from-home wearing, errand running, around-the-house sunscreen. It’s moisturizing without being shiny, and leaves no white cast at all. I love that it has a ton of antioxidants on the ingredient list. It’s on the pricey side, but again, you can’t skimp on good skincare. I highly recommend this everyday Fitglow Beauty Vita Shield SPF 30 Lotion sunscreen.
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SFP 30
- Cost: $150 for 4 oz. ($1.25 per ml) for large size, $85 for 2 oz. ($1.42 per ml) for regular size, $50 for 1 oz. ($1.67 per ml) for travel size
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 12% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: No Rating at this time
- From the Josh Rosebrook website: Our dual-action day cream performs as a regenerating moisturizer and natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen. Nutrient Day Cream delivers a potent combination of distinct herbal actives and plant oils to repair, moisturize, and protect the skin. Unique herbal synergies release skin transforming anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, fatty acids, and phytonutrients proven to firm, reduce redness, and assist the skin in regeneration. This luxurious, lightweight cream finishes matte, smooth, and comfortable without a white cast. We’ve chosen a high quality uncoated, non-nano, high micron zinc oxide to provide effective sunblock against skin-damaging solar rays.
- My Take: This was another favorite everyday sunscreen that’s perfect for around-the-house and errand running. It was a little more hydrating for my skin than the Fitglow, but pretty comparable. It left no white caste after rubbing in, was just a tad bit shinier than Fitglow, but it soaked in well and I love all the antioxidants on the ingredient list. I’d say the price is the biggest obstacle for me. I’ll stick with Fitglow since it’s less expensive and of comparable quality. I do highly recommend this Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SFP 30 as an everyday sunscreen if this is in your budget. The Detox Market has samples of this sunscreen if you want to try before you buy. Choose 3 samples and pay $7.99 plus shipping. It’s a great way to test for sensitivity to products!
Kari Gran Essential SPF 28
- Cost: $75 for 1.7 ounces ($1.50 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 17% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: 1
- From the Kari Gran website: This natural sunscreen does double duty: providing broad-spectrum mineral protection against the sun’s harmful rays while moisturizing skin with naturally derived organic oils. This mineral sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide as an active barrier to shield the face from the UVA rays which cause signs of aging, and UVB rays responsible for sunburn. Made with botanical oils, this organic sunscreen protects while it hydrates to promote healthy, glowing skin. This nourishing face SPF is a moisture-rich formula made to prevent damage associated with daily sun exposure whether we’re at the beach or just going about our daily business. A mineral-based, natural SPF is a vital component of any skincare routine for optimal protection and to promote overall skin health.
- My Take: I put this in the everyday sunscreen category. I felt like this formula was on the greasy side, and left a greasy feeling even hours later. It has a slight white cast when rubbed in that eventually faded, but it wasn’t my favorite. Also, my daughter has tree nut allergies, and this sunscreen has macadamia nut oil in it. I really don’t like to use products with tree nut oil in them (with the exception of almond oil, which my daughter isn’t allergic to). The Detox Market has samples of this sunscreen if you want to try before you buy. Choose 3 samples and pay $7.99 plus shipping. It’s a great way to test for sensitivity to products!
Acure Radically Rejuvenating SPF Day Cream SPF 30
- Cost: $15.99 for 1.7 oz. ($0.32 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 15.5% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: 2
- From the Acure website: Broad spectrum SPF 30. With turmeric, ferulic acid & vitamin C, age performance. Throw some shade! Reef-Safe zinc sun protection with nourishing botanicals to help you thrive! With turmeric, ferulic acid & vitamin C. In your face, Sun! *shakes fist at sky. Your goal: sunscreen & antioxidants. Our solution: Turmeric, ferulic acid, vitamin C, non-nano reef safe zinc oxide. 100% vegan. 0% pretentious. Paraben free, Sulfate free, Mineral oil free, Petrolatum free, Formaldehyde free, Cruelty free.
- My Take: This is a great budget-buy natural sunscreen. It did not leave a white cast after rubbing in. However, the formula separated while rubbing in, so the white zinc oxide did not rub in evenly, especially around the edges. This makes me question whether the zinc oxide is dispersing equally.
EleVen On-The-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30
- Cost: $42 for 1.7 oz. ($0.84 per ml)
- Sunscreen Active Ingredients: 25% zinc oxide (I called Credo Beauty and they said it is non-nano)
- EWG Rating: No rating at this time
- From the Credo website: This Product is a sheer mineral sunscreen that’s good for all skin types and skin tones. EleVen by Venus Williams On-The-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30 is a sheer mineral sunscreen that melts into skin, leaving a semi-matte, non-chalky finish. Formulated with 25% zinc oxide, On-The-Defense is the perfect daily sunscreen for all skin types and tones. It provides lightweight hydration and blends easily for effortless on-the-go application. This sunscreen is dermatologist-approved. EleVen’s unrivaled reef-safe formulas offer physical protection from UVA and UVB rays that are as kind to skin as they are to the planet, with packaging made from PCR and recyclable materials whenever possible. All products are made in collaboration with The Sunscreen CompanyTM, experts in mineral sunscreen formulation. With the strictest standards in beauty retail today, Credo has ensured the highest product integrity and ingredient authenticity.
- My Take: This is my favorite heavy-duty athletic sunscreen brand. It contains a high percentage of zinc oxide, but it doesn’t leave any white cast after rubbing in. The formula is a medium consistency, so it rubs in easily, and is also not shiny after it rubs in. This EleVen On-The-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30 is one of my go-to natural sunscreen for hiking, biking, running, skiing – all the fun Colorado outdoor stuff! Something to note: my daughter left this sunscreen in the car on a really hot day and the formula separated. Never store sunscreen in the car, and use the serum formula from this brand if you don’t want to risk your sunscreen separating.
EleVen Unrivaled Sun Serum SFP 35
- Cost: $50 for 1 oz. ($1.67 per ml)
- Sunscreen Active Ingredients: 25% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: No rating at this time
- From the Credo website: This Product Is: a lightweight serum combining skincare and sun protection that’s good for all skin types and skin tones. EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35 is a game-changing lightweight serum that combines skincare and mineral sun protection. This dermatologist-approved serum applies transparently and absorbs quickly on all skin tones, creating a smooth velvety finish. 25% zinc oxide provides reef-safe broad-spectrum sun protection, and prickly pear delivers long lasting hydration while helping to calm and soothe skin. Unrivaled Sun Serum is the ultimate multi-tasker as the final step before applying makeup, leaving skin with a beautiful demi-matte glow.
- My Take: This is a serum sunscreen that comes with a dropper as the applicator (the applicator doesn’t work very well and I end up carefully pouring a teaspoon amount into the palm of my hand). I really like that it goes on clear and is matte. At first I thought this serum was slightly irritating, but have since worn it tons of times and have changed my mind. I would highly recommend this EleVen Unrivaled Sun Serum SFP 35 as a clear zinc-oxide sunscreen.
Kinship Self Reflect Sunscreen
- Cost: $25 for 1.75 ounces ($0.50 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 22.4% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: Not yet Rated
- From the Kinship website: Kinship Self Reflect Sunscreen is a 100% mineral sunscreen that blends into skin seamlessly and leaves you with a moisturized and glowy finish. This reef-safe, non-nano zinc oxide formula is gentle on skin while providing UVA/UVB protection as well as blue light protection. This sunscreen is made using KinbiomeTM, Kinship’s plant-based probiotic that supports a strong skin barrier + clear, glowing skin.
- My Take: This Kinship Sunscreen is new to the market, so I’m adding it in after I originally wrote this post. I am so impressed with this clear zinc-oxide formula. It has a slight tan tint to it when it comes out of the tube, but it rubs in clear. The formula is not too thick, and it has a nice vanilla scent. There are no noticeable sparkles, but it does give my skin a glowy appearance. It is now part of my sunscreen routine, and it’s also way more affordable than a lot of other clear zinc oxide formulas.
Solara Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 30
- Cost: $42 for 1.7 oz. ($0.84 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: Non-Nano, Non-Coated 20% Zinc Oxide
- EWG Rating: verified Best Standards For Your Health
- From the Solara website: Our protective face moisturizer quickly melts into skin with clean, supercharged and multi-functional actives that address past photodamage and plump fine lines while also helping to prevent future damage from the sun, digital + environmental aggressors. Our proprietary mineral-only formula is naturally quick-absorbing (no silicones, no drying alcohols, no – eek – nylons or polyesters!). Perfect alone or under makeup with no pilling, white cast or flashback. It’s line plumping, skin loving SPF goodness that takes your skin back to the future! Spike the effects by using over one of our Defense Boosting Serums. * Dermatologist approved.
- My Take: I put this one in the heavy duty sunscreen category. It has a thick consistency and a slight white cast right after you rub it in. But, the white cast does go away in a matter of minutes, so this is one sunscreen I consider a good one. It also starts out with a shine that goes away after a few minutes. Some of the reviews say that the oil and zinc separate, but so far that hasn’t happened with this product for me. I do have the Solara body sunscreen, and it was separated on arrival, so I understand the frustration with the reviews. Again, this did not happen with my face sunscreen. I love that this sunscreen is packed with antioxidants. All in all, the Solara Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 30 is a great face sunscreen for hiking, biking, and all the fun outdoor stuff!
Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
- Cost: $45 for 1.7 oz. ($0.90 per ml)
- Sunscreen Active Ingredients: 20% non-nano zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: 2
- From the Suntegrity website: Suntegrity moisturizing face sunscreen is a rich, non-greasy, “UV chemical-free” sunscreen that offers Broad Spectrum Protection against damaging UVA & UVB rays. Infused with youth promoting antioxidants, this 3 in 1 Suntegrity Skincare product functions as a face moisturizer, sunscreen and make-up primer all in one. Hyaluronic acid, astaxanthin, red algae and Certified Organic: aloe vera, jojoba, sunflower, pomegranate, cucumber, and green tea help rejuvenate, moisturize and hydrate the skin while non-nano size zinc-oxide protects the skin from the damaging UVA and UVB rays, as well as reduces the appearance of redness. Carefully made for all skin types, it is: Free of: Parabens, Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oils, Synthetic Dyes, Sulfates, Paba, Titanium Dioxide, Nano-Particles and Chemical UV Absorbers. Vegan, Non-Greasy, Light, Uplifiting Orange/Tangerine Scent, Cruelty Free (PETA & Leaping Bunny Certified)
- My Take: This sunscreen was just a little too shiny for my taste. It also left a very slight white cast. The sunscreen inactive ingredients contain sweet orange and tangerine essential oils, and from my research (see our Natural Sunscreen Guide Part 1), citrus based essential oil can cause photodermatitis (brown spots) on skin if exposed to sunlight. One note: if you noticed from the picture above, the outer coating on the Suntegrity sunscreen bottle rubbed off. My daughter had this in her soccer bag, and I’m guessing sand and dirt worked the coating off. This would not be a great sunscreen to toss in your beach bag!
Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Sunscreen SPF 40
- Cost: $20.99 for 1.7 oz. ($0.42 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 5.9% Titanium Dioxide, 3.3% non-nano Zinc Oxide
- EWG Rating: 4 (contains Dog Rose Flower extract, which can cause allergic reactions)
- From the Babo Botanicals website: Babo’s specially formulated broad spectrum Daily Sheer Sunscreen is perfect for extra sensitive faces. This ultra sheer, lightweight and hypoallergenic formula contains organic Aloe Vera, Avocado and Jojoba Oil to soothe and moisturize skin. Powerful anti-oxidants, Rose Hip and Green Tea, help prevent premature aging. Perfect for use as a daily moisturizer and/or under make-up.
- My Take: This sunscreen left a white cast after applying. Definitely not my favorite, although my daughter used it all up!
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer
- Cost: $30 for 2 fl oz ($0.50 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 20% zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: 1
- From the Juice Beauty website: Hydrate and protect your skin’s natural moisture balance with this lightweight, zinc broad spectrum SPF 30 moisturizer made with antioxidant rich organic grape and pomegranate, soothing aloe vera, vitamins, and nutrient rich sea algae. Helps prevent premature signs of aging caused by everyday sun exposure. Clears while hydrates.
- My Take: This sunscreen had a thick, chalky consistency and was kind of hard to rub in. It also left a white cast even after rubbing in. The sunscreen inactive ingredients contain 3 different citrus essential oils, and from my research (see our Natural Sunscreen Guide Part 1), citrus based essential oil can cause photodermatitis (brown spots) on skin if exposed to sunlight. This was not my favorite sunscreen.
Mad Hippie Facial SPF 30+ Broad Spectrum
- Cost: $24.99 for 2 oz. ($0.42 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 16% non-nano zinc oxide
- EWG Rating: No rating at this time
- From the Mad Hippie website: Natural 30+ Facial Sunscreen with zinc oxide – a safe, broad-spectrum physical blocking agent. Combined with natural antioxidant-rich oils, red raspberry seed oil, avocado oil & carrot seed oil, plus vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid. 2 oz. Layer this over the Antioxidant Facial Oil for added antioxidants & to help product rub in super clear 🙂 Free of Nanoparticles, Parabens, PABA, Petroleum, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone & UV Chemical
- My Take: This sunscreen had a medium consistency that was fairly easy to rub in. It was slightly mattifying, but left a faint white cast. The sunscreen inactive ingredients contain sweet orange essential oil, and from my research (see our Natural Sunscreen Guide Part 1), citrus based essential oil can cause photodermatitis (brown spots) on skin if exposed to sunlight. It was not my favorite sunscreen.
Mychelle Sun Shield SPF 28 Unscented
- Cost: $22 for 2.3 oz. ($0.32 per ml)
- Active Sunscreen Ingredients: 11.6 % zinc oxide 11.6%, .67% titanium dioxide
- EWG Rating: 2
- From the Mychelle website: Broad-spectrum Protection, Antioxidant-Rich Vitamin E & Aloe, Soothe & Nourish. Unscented, mineral-based, broad-spectrum sunscreen with soothing Aloe and Vitamin E to help reduce signs of sun-induced irritation. Lightweight daily protection absorbs quickly for a smooth, clear and matte finish. DOES NOT CONTAIN: Retinyl Palmitate or chemical UV absorbers including Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone or PABA. Made without parabens, petroleum, pthalates, silicones, sulfates, ureas, artificial fragrances, artificial colors.
- My Take: This sunscreen was fairly easy to rub in and hydrated well. It did leave a slight white cast, so it’s not one I’d wear on a regular basis.