The 4 Best Mineral Sunscreens to Protect You This Summer

Photography by  Laurie Adalle Photography

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According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In the 1970s, when sunscreen became used more widely, it was largely used as a seasonal protection against the sun. Now, in 2019, SPF protection is found not just in sunscreen, but in makeup and facial moisturizer.

The FDA recently proposed a new rule to update regulatory requirements for sunscreen products. In short, the proposed rule would label sunscreens as drugs. This proposed rule comes largely from the substantial data gap for the most common active ingredients in sunscreen and their ability to be absorbed into the body after application. The proposed rule suggests that active ingredients that are absorbed into the bloodstream at a level of 0.5ng/mL or higher underdog further testing for adverse effects.

A study published in May 2019 in the Journal of American Medical Association, describes a maximal usage trial (MUsT) that evaluates the absorption of active ingredients into the skin. This pilot study showed that four active ingredients in sunscreen were absorbed into the skin, proving that sunscreen does not simply work on the surface.

Of these four widely used active ingredients, the FDA raised concerns about the skin absorption of oxybenzone and its potential to affect hormonal levels, as well as increased absorption rates in children.

In February 2019, the FDA released its sunscreens monograph, which showed insufficient data to classify 12 of the 15 sunscreen filters as generally recognized as safe and effective, or GRASE. These ingredients include 12 widely used UV filters in sunscreen.

The monograph classifies the ingredients into three categories: Category I - GRASE, Categories II (not GRASE) & III (not enough data). Of these, only two ingredients are recognized as safe and effective: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

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When looking for safer products, another great resource we like to use is the EWG, which is an incredible database where you can search OTC products, including makeup, sunscreen, and skincare for its safety profile. While the FDA suggests more research, the EWG recommends consumers also avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone.

With these new health guidelines, we’re sharing 4 of our favorite sunscreens for the summer. Please note that sunscreen should always be used as a last resort. Consider staying indoors or finding shade when UV rays are at their peak.

Infographic courtesy of  EWG.org

Infographic courtesy of EWG.org


Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 50 - $12

Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), this Zinc Oxide 19.2% sunscreen is a great, budget friendly pick, available both in adult and baby sticks. It also excludes many harmful ingredients/chemicals: paraben-free, PABA Free, Ozybenzone-free, Reinyl Palmitate-free, Propylene Glycol-free. The baby Sun Bum ranks a 1 on the EWG scale, while the adult ranks a 2.

Note: Only the mineral version ranks highly on EWG.

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Sport Stick, SPF 50 - $15

This 20% zinc oxide sunscreen provides long-lasting protection (80 minutes of swimming!) that is made of plant-derived ingredients with both an adult and baby formula. Cruelty-free and paraben-free. Ranked a 1 on EWG scale (1 being highest rated).

EltaMD Skincare UV Pure Face and Body Physical Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 47 - $25

This 10.0% transparent zinc oxide, 5.5% titanium dioxide is for adults while gentle enough for babies. This mineral-based formula is fragrance-free, oil-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, dye-free, noncomedogenic and water-resistant. Ranked a 1 on EWG scale (1 being highest rated).

Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 - $39

This lightweight 19% Zinc Oxide sunscreen gets high marks from the EWG (rated 1) for its ingredients, but also high marks from this editor for not leaving a white film across the skin.

Beauty Counter Counter Sun

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The 4 Best Sunscreens to Protect You This Summer

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Photography by Laurie Adalle Photography