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Although sunlight can feel great (exposure to rays can increase serotonin), it can also wreak havoc on your skin. This is why sunscreen is so important. Without proper application, spending too much time in the sun can lead to wrinkles, premature aging, and possibly skin cancer.

Sunscreen helps protect your skin all year round, even during the winter when you aren’t feeling the heat.

The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that sunscreen can decrease your risk for skin cancers and precancers. Regular daily use of at least SPF 15 can reduce your risk for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer, by 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent.

Natural sunscreens, in particular, are typically free of parabens and other potentially harmful or controversial ingredients, like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate.

Instead, the formulas use active ingredients from plants, like aloe vera and zinc oxide, to coat the skin and reflect UV rays off the dermal layers.

An effective sunscreen will have a high SPF level. It will also be broad-spectrum, meaning it blocks both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

Sunscreen may be the most important skin care product you invest in, so we compiled our list based on:

  • ingredients
  • cost
  • SPF ratings
  • customer reviews

We looked at physical sunscreens that use naturally-derived minerals, like zinc oxide, are formulated with natural and organic ingredients, and don’t contain harmful chemicals, like oxybenzone.

You should avoid sunscreens that have oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate because they’re regarded as harmful additives that are absorbed into the body after one use.

According to a 2020 study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these ingredients were still detected on the skin and in the blood weeks after no longer being used. Additionally, in 2019, the FDA deemed zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the only safe filters for sunscreens.

When shopping for sunscreen, it’s crucial to monitor which ingredients are being used, since not all sunscreens are created equal. It’s also important to note that “all-natural” isn’t an FDA regulated term, so the ingredients in products will most likely vary based on the company.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20–$40
  • $$$ = over $60

Best overall

Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

  • Price: $$
  • Key features: Often recommended by dermatologists, this sunscreen contains SPF 46 protection, making it a suitable sunblock for most age groups (the FDA recommends opting out of applying sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months). This sunscreen offers long lasting, broad-spectrum, mineral-based sun protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Considerations: A high SPF often encourages people to stay outside for far too long. Remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, regardless of the SPF you’re using.

Best spray sunscreen

Alba Botanica Sensitive Sunscreen Spray

  • Price: $
  • Key features: You may want to choose a spray sunscreen if you have kids who won’t sit still long enough for proper cream application. This spray provides broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection and is made of paraben-free, natural, environmentally-friendly ingredients, like homosalate and octrocrylene. It’s also fragrance-free and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
  • Considerations: While convenient, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it can be difficult to gauge whether you’re applying enough spray sunscreen to have an adequate layer of protection.

Best natural finish

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

  • Price: $$
  • Key features: This weightless sunscreen smooths on underneath makeup. The velvety texture is a mix of a gel and a serum, meaning there’s no telltale white cast to worry about. For those with dry or acne-prone skin, this sunscreen contains beneficial ingredients, like meadowfoam seed to help increase hydration levels and frankincense to provide a soothing effect.
  • Considerations: Some users might not like that the product contains silicones, a group of semi-liquid substances derived from silica. Silicones aren’t always natural, but they help reduce the greasy, sticky, and heavy feeling typically associated with sunscreen.

Best for oily skin

MAELOVE Sun Protector SPF 30

  • Price: $
  • Key features: This sun protector uses a non-nano 18 percent zinc oxide formula that provides a complete defense against UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide is commonly found in mineral based sunscreens, because it reflects light off the surface of the skin. And since you can never have enough protection against free radicals — aka the compounds that may cause blemishes, wrinkles, and dark spots — this formula is fortified with potent antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • Considerations: While SPF 30 provides just the right amount of daily sun protection, it might not be enough for those who spend a lot of time outdoors or want a higher level of protection. If you choose this option, you’ll want to make sure you reapply it every 2 hours.

Best lightweight formula

Coola Organic Mineral Sun Silk Crème

  • Price: $$
  • Key features: This mineral, oil-free formula glides onto skin for a silky, transparent finish. Fans of this Coola sunscreen can thank niacinamide, a hydrating antioxidant, as it helps minimize redness and irritation while supporting moisture retention.
  • Considerations: This sunscreen is $42, so it’s on the pricier side.

Best for melanin-rich skin

AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with SPF 40

  • Price: $$$
  • Key features: This paraben-free and fragrance-free formula offers broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection. Beneficial ingredients, like sustainably produced hydrating squalane and hyaluronic acid work to provide noncomedogenic, lightweight hydration for up to 8 hours. It’s available in 2 shades (mocha and café au lait) and is designed to seamlessly blend into melanin-rich skin.
  • Considerations: Although AbsoluteJOI offers two shades, some users wish that there was a darker option for a better match.

Best for acne-prone skin

Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Key features: This SPF 32 is formulated with turmeric to help soothe and protect blemish-prone skin. It also contains kinbiome, the brand’s proprietary plant-based probiotic made to support a strong skin barrier. All of Kinship’s formulas stand out, since they exclude 1,300+ questionable ingredients banned in the EU. This sunscreen is also made with reef-safe zinc oxide that’s gentle on skin while providing broad-spectrum protection.
  • Considerations: Some users report that the product feels greasy and thick on their skin, which is common for mineral sunscreens, as they often take some time to rub in.

Best for kids

Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 40 Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream Kids Clear Sport

  • Price: $
  • Key features: This hypoallergenic natural sunscreen is a great option for kids. It’s formulated with organic sunflower, jojoba, and beeswax to help lock in moisture. It offers SPF 40 that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The sunscreen even contains non-phototoxic essential oils to provide a natural scent of tangerine and vanilla. (This just means that the essential oils are less responsive to light, minimizing your risk for sunburn.)
  • Considerations: This sunscreen uses a specialized zinc oxide powder with high transparency that intentionally creates a white cast so that your kids are certain they don’t miss any spots.

Best for babies

Blue Lizard Baby Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $
  • Key features: Although you should opt out of applying sunscreen to infants younger than 6 months, this gentle sunscreen is great for babies and toddlers who are old enough for sun protection. It’s formulated without the harmful chemicals, fragrances, or irritants used in many sunscreen products, including oxybenzone and avobenzone. Remember to ​​reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.
  • Considerations: Some customers report that it’s hard to wash off in the shower.

Best value

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Gel-Lotion SPF 30

  • Price: $
  • Key features: The AAD recommends picking a physical (mineral) sunblock, since it’s a better choice for those who have sensitive skin. Free from chemical actives, parabens, and dyes, this gel-lotion sinks into the skin without leaving a white cast.
  • Considerations: Some reviewers report that the sunscreen pills on their face.

Best for the outdoor athlete

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield SPF 50

  • Price: $$$
  • Key features: There’s no need for constant reapplication while exercising or swimming outdoors, since this SPF is water-resistant and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Reviewers say this body sunscreen easily melts into their skin without any irritation or stinging. It boasts a whopping SPF 50, with the main active ingredient being zinc oxide.
  • Considerations: One big drawback surrounding this product is the hefty price tag.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many sunscreens on the market. Here are some questions you should ask when shopping:

  • Do you trust the brand that manufactured this sunscreen?
  • Does this sunscreen offer broad-spectrum protection?
  • Does this sunscreen contain any toxic chemicals?
  • Does this sunscreen have at least SPF 15?
  • Does this sunscreen fit your budget?
  • How much product are you getting for your money?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should opt for a broad-spectrum formula. This means the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. You should also pick one that has at least SPF 15 (the higher the number, the better the protection).

When shopping for sunscreen, it’s crucial to monitor what ingredients are being used, since not all sunscreens are created equal. It’s also important to note that “all-natural” isn’t an FDA regulated term, so the ingredients in products will most likely vary based on the company.

Sunscreen is a daily necessity if you want to take care of your skin and minimize your risk for skin cancer. Selecting sunscreen can be overwhelming for a lot of people, and you may have a lot of questions.

The AAD recommends using at least 1 ounce of sunscreen (equal to a shot glass) to fully cover the body. Remember to rub it all over your body, including some easily missed areas, like:

  • ears
  • tops of the feet
  • hands
  • neck

Most dermatologists recommend reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours. Remember to wear sunscreen all year round, even on cloudy days or days when you’re primarily inside.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s important to monitor which ingredients you apply daily.

Natural sunscreens are a great option, as they’re usually free of harmful chemicals and better for the environment. Aside from the ingredients, choosing sunscreen really comes down to personal preference.

Once you find a sunscreen that works for you, remember to wear it daily and reapply often for maximum protection.


Iman Balagam is a writer based in Houston, Texas. When she’s not laughing at her own jokes, or buying overpriced chia pudding, she can be found reading fiction novels, catching a spin class, doomscrolling through TikTok, or waiting for her delayed Spirit flight to board. You can see more of her work on her website.