Through my research I’ve learned that chemical sunscreens pose risks of human toxicity, carcinogenic effects, endocrine disruption, and allergic reactions. Further chemical sunscreens also pose a risk of ecotoxicity, which can harm marine life and habitats. I recommend using mineral based sunscreens, ideally products that don’t use nanoparticles in their formulations. I wear different sunscreens for different activities and I always wear sunscreen on my face, mostly to prevent photoaging but also skin cancer so I wanted to include some great products that I discovered through this research. I’ve selected three products for each category based on the availability and ingredient safety. I’ve chosen sport formulations for all body sunscreens, as they offer the most robust longevity in water and during exercise. I’ve also included a list of facial moisturizers with sunscreen as this is part of my daily regimen. Finding a facial sunscreen with a mineral UV filter without nanoparticles with a low EWG rating was incredibly challenging.
Bare Republic is a fairly new brand that I started seeing about 2 years ago and offers a great option for a swimming and outdoor activity sunscreen since it has a sport formulation. Bare Republic does label their non-nano products and currently only offer 2 non-nano products; Mineral SPF 50 Baby Sunscreen Lotion and Mineral SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen Stick. I like that this product is almost as affordable as chemical sunscreens and it is widely available and easily found at Target, Ulta, Amazon and even Walmart.
Price per ounce: $3.20
EWG Rating: 1
Badger is a company I never noticed or heard of until after I had my son then I found several informal sources like blogs, forums, and family members recommending their products. I was more familiar with Alba products so I chose that instead but will be switching as their EWG rating is excellent and lower than Alba. I also really appreciate their transparent and health conscious labeling. Most of their products are nanoparticle free and every product is labeled very obviously whether or not they contain certain ingredients. They are a bit more expensive than Bare Republic or Alba and more difficult to find but a tube of sunscreen lasts a long time so I’m not concerned with the extra expense. This Badger product I have selected is a sport formulation for long-wearing adventures outdoors, which is really my preferred reason for wearing sunscreen. This product can be purchased online at Target, Amazon, and Whole Foods.
Price per ounce: $5.17
EWG Rating: 1
I had never heard of this company before doing this research and I was hard pressed to find a luxury brand with a mineral formulation and a clean EWG rating. The high end products I did look into like Soleil du Midi, Supergoop, and Shiseido all had ratings over 4 and 5 from EWG so while expensive they weren’t actually healthy products and few of them were mineral based. COOLA sport is a non-nanoparticle formulation mineral sunscreen and contains a lot of additional exotic emollients and natural skin soothing ingredients. This is the only organic sunscreen product I’ve found and it bills itself as “Farm to Face”, which is kind of hilarious. At $12 per ounce this is not a product I would put in my daily rotation. I was, however, able to find it 30% off at CVS and I’m tempted to buy it just to see what the hype is all about but then I might end up with an expensive sunscreen habit I can’t afford….. The reviews on Amazon are quite good and the EWG rating is excellent, coming in at a 1. If you can afford the splurge their products are available online at Coola.com, Amazon, CVS and Sephora.
Price per ounce: $12
EWG Rating: 1
“A multi-tasking miracle, our Mineral Sport SPF 30 Citrus Mimosa Moisturizer protects your skin while also helping boost its own natural defenses against the sun. Suitable for all skin types including sensitive, this water-resistant, non-greasy cream infuses skin with antioxidants, vitamins, and hydrating ingredients to keep it soft, smooth, and shielded.”
MOISTURIZERS WITH SUNSCREEN
Finding a facial moisturizer with a mineral UV filter without nanoparticles AND a low EWG rating was incredibly challenging. I don’t like several steps in my morning routine and I don’t like to wear makeup or tinted moisturizers on the daily. I want a simple one step moisturizer like Aveeno or La Roche Posay that both moisturizes and protects my face from the sun. But even after all this exhaustive research I’ve only found a few products I’m willing to try and none of them meet all of my criteria.
Facial moisturizer is much more expensive than sunscreen and it’s also a lot more personal. Women have all sorts of preferences and many I know love the ease of a BB cream or have strict preferences in formulations. This is why I’ve gone the extra mile and included an entire section on facial products but it was much more difficult than I anticipated to find a product to meet my simple daily needs. I like the Aveeno because it’s a one step moisturizer and it’s incredibly affordable. I like the Drunk Elephant product because it is a brand I trust and they make fantastic products, but it’s only a sunscreen and would require an additional moisturizer. I am interested in the Josie Maran oil despite the price because I use facial oils in my daily routine with great results and it’s a one step solution but it has a higher EWG rating than my chemical sunscreen La Roche Posay moisturizer. I was actually really surprised that no high-end brands like La Prairie, Murad, Clarins or La Mer offered a daily moisturizer with mineral sunscreen. I was excited by the prospect of finding a holy-grail money-is-no-object mineral sunscreen moisturizer. But I couldn’t find it.
I pored over several pages of moisturizers at Sephora, Amazon and even at Barney’s (it was the most expensive store i could think of..).but few of these brands even offer mineral formulations and none are included in the EWG best of rankings. Even the Josie Maran is rated as a 3 and my old $20 La Roche Posay moisturizer is rated at a 2 despite its chemical based sunscreen. I’m going to try the Aveeno and Drunk Elephant products but honestly the high-end stuff just doesn’t meet my standards. I’m going to finish out what I have first and keep looking.
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily moisturizer is my pick for an accessible moisturizer with a mineral based sunscreen. I’ve used Aveeno facial moisturizers for years and really like them and love that they are so affordable, consistent, and hard-working. I haven’t used this product but I’m impressed by its mineral only sunscreen, free of perfumes and ultra-calming formulation. It’s very difficult to find any products other than baby products that are unscented. I’m interested in trying it and may add it to my rotation as I apply a facial moisturizer every day so the costs do add up. It likely contains nanoparticles, so I will have to contact Aveeno to find out.
EWG Rating: 3
Price per ounce: $5.52
*This is the worst EWG rated product I’ve added so far but a budget friendly moisturizer is really hard to find. The rating is impacted by the inclusion of a silicone based emollient, cyclopentasiloxane but EWG has rated the risk as low so I’m still willing to give this a try.
Drunk Elephant is a high-end skin care brand that I adore. I’ve used several of their highly-effective products and especially appreciate that nearly all of their products are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding (only a few of their products are not recommended) and info can be found on their website). While the majority of their skincare is quite expensive I stumbled across their Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 when researching this project. I was unable to find any information on their website or affiliate vendor websites about the use of nanoparticles so I emailed the company and heard back within hours! They use coated non-nanoparticle formulations in all of their sunscreen products. Needless to say I will be adding this to my list of sunscreens to try.
EWG Rating: 1
Price per ounce: $11.30
*Although the price per ounce is pretty high, drug-store brand moisturizers are usually about this price so I feel fine including this here instead of high-end.
This product is very interesting because it’s an oil based moisturizer from a well known natural beauty brand with a high SPF mineral sunscreen. Josie Maran’s tagline is “Beauty with a conscience”. The reviews on Sephora and Amazon are good. I don’t know if this product uses nanoparticles but it was the only one that offered a moisturizer and sun protection without tint or a BB cream formulation. Argan oil is a natural skin moisturizer with high antioxidant properties and this product comes in a glass bottle. So hurrah for less plastic in the world and less chemicals on your face. While the cost is high, it’s not that expensive compared to other high-end moisturizers with or without sunscreen. This product also has the Sephora Clean Seal indicating that it is “ free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban.” So even big name stores are starting to see the benefit of identifying products without these harmful chemicals. This product is available at Sephora and Amazon.
EWG Rating: 3 contains perfume and other questionable ingredients, would use Aveeno over this product.
Price per ounce: $16