A good mineral sunscreen can be hard to find—especially a good mineral sunscreen that doesn't leave a white cast. But let's back up. First of all: Yes, you need to be wearing sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy. By now, you probably know about mineral sunblock being safer for the environment—and some also prefer it to chemical sunscreen (chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin, while a mineral formula actually “blocks” sun rays from ever penetrating your skin in the first place).
“I generally suggest physical [mineral] sunblock over chemical sunscreen for reducing damage to the skin,” explains SkinSpirit's Lead Aesthetician Karen Fernandez. “Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and then converting them into heat energy on top of the skin, but physical sunblocks containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide act as a block on top of the skin, reflecting UV rays instead of absorbing.”
This key difference also means mineral sunblocks are generally safe for the whole family, even children as young as six months. “Because they don’t absorb the active ingredients from the sunscreen, physical sunblocks usually don’t irritate the skin, and even those with sensitive skin can use it safely,” adds Fernandez.
- Audrey Kunin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor
- Howard Murad, MD, founder of Murad Skin-Care
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital
- Karen Fernandez, aesthetics department manager at SkinSpirit
Early formulations of mineral sunscreens did leave a white residue and white cast on many skin tones, but that is not always the case anymore. Regardless, when you wear sunscreen—and you should be daily—you need to cleanse your skin at night.
Exfoliate your body and double cleanse the face when using mineral sunscreen, as it can sometimes be stubborn to remove, especially if it’s water resistant. “Remember, nighttime is when your skin gets all the healing and replenishing action, so you want to be sure to send it to bed clean!” says Fernandez.
Shop our favorite mineral sunblocks below, and stay safe all year long.
The best sunscreens that don't leave a white cast
This brand new, super lightweight formula glides onto skin and provides protection from UVA and UVB rays as well as blue light from devices like your phone or computer. It’s available in both tinted and non-tinted formulas, and doesn’t contain silicones. Formulated with plant-based ingredients, it’s fragrance-free and safe for the whole family. Shake well before use.
This lightly tinted formula works on all skin types to give a nice shimmer and delicate sheen to your face. It also primes for makeup perfectly. Though it’s “tinted,” it works with all skin tones, leaving an invisible finish. Plus, it smells like lavender for a relaxing start to your day. This sunscreen is vegan, cruelty-free, tested by derms, and formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, formaldehyde, mineral oil, or petrolatum.
“The Bliss Block Star sunscreen is an oil free formula with mattifying ingredients that minimize the appearance of pores, without blocking them, says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “It contains a botanical ingredient known as rosa canina oil that helps balance oil production. It has a blend of blueberry, acai, and green tea extracts [that] are rich in antioxidants [and] neutralize free radicals, and protect the skin from resulting damage.”
This 100 percent mineral sunscreen is truly invisible and perfect as an everyday base. It provides exceptional coverage, all while blending in completely in just a few seconds. It’s oil-free, won’t leave skin greasy, and is formulated without silicone, alcohols, added fragrances, phthalates, parabens, or mineral oil. It has 20 percent zinc oxide as well as antioxidants like artichoke leaf extract and turmeric extract for brightening skin.
Yup, it’s the sunscreen all over your Instagram feed, and it is good. This sea kelp moisturizer and sunscreen lotion combo gives a gorgeous glow and sheen to the skin. All products are vegan, cruelty free, and made without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Though it comes out bright white, it easily blends into skin for a dewy finish. It’s also reef-safe, water resistant for 40 minutes, and 100 percent mineral.
This facial sunscreen contains skin-care ingredients like 100 percent pure argan oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and squalane oil, so it’s especially good for dull and dry skin, though it works for all skin types. The formula is sheer, lightweight, and smells like apricot—a truly delightful summer staple.
I love carrying this brush-on sunscreen in my bag for easy re-applications when I’m out all day. It sets and perfects makeup while giving you another shot of sunscreen (which you’re supposed to be applying every two hours, BTW). It’s hypoallergenic, paraben-free, gluten free, and doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients. It comes in one translucent shade. You should always think about your specific skin type when choosing an SPF.
“If you’re acne prone, you’ll want to be especially careful to choose an oil-free SPF with a light texture, and you may also want to consider powder options,” Fernandez says.
This two-in-one makes wearing SPF easy, because it’s also your daily AM moisturizer. It protects against UVA, UVB, and blue light, while hydrating and brightening your skin. The smooth application doesn’t leave your skin tacky or sticky, and I love the hint of citrus fragrance it leaves behind. I personally apply this zinc oxide formula on my face, neck, décolletage, and hands before leaving the house every day.
Another on-the-go powder we love is The A Method by Tina Alster. This can be used as a daily foundation with built-in SPF—it comes in seven shades with an SPF 30, as well as one clear option, which has an SPF of 50. The formula is crease- and water-resistant, and was created by celebrity dermatologist Tina Alster, M.D., FAAD. It’s also made in the USA, and free of gluten, parabens, fragrance, and is 100 percent vegan.
We love this serum with an easy-to-apply dropper that seamlessly glides over skin while also protecting from environmental elements.
“At Murad, it’s always important for us to formulate products that fill a need, something missing within the industry, and one that addresses more than just a topical concern,” Dr. Howard Murad tells us. “With Correct & Protect, we wanted to create a product that wasn’t just a sunscreen and wasn’t just a serum. We wanted a powerful 2-in-1 product that corrected discoloration and protected against hyperpigmentation. We combined the proven results of a treatment serum with a smooth, no white cast (clinically tested on Fitzpatrick skin types 1 to 6) SPF that helps future-proof your skin—and brighten the more you use it. Plus, the addition of beet root extract provides a fast-absorbing, moisturizer-like dose of hydration that all skin types will love,” says Dr. Murad.
If you’re a parent, you know your kid always wants to use what you have, which is why I love this Baby Bum Mineral 50 formula. The spray application makes it super easy to distribute on skin. It doesn’t leave a chalky, white residue behind, despite the high SPF 50 rating. It’s fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, water-resistant, and made with plant-based ingredients, so it’s perfect for those with sensitive skin. It’s also the perfect carry-on size for your next weekend away.
For the body, we love this sweet—but not overpowering—coconut and pineapple-scented sunscreen from Native. It has just one active ingredient—non-nano zinc oxide, and it absorbs fast with no residue left behind. It’s reef-safe and free from oxybenzone and avobenzone. It has a 5-star rating on Target.com and comes in an unscented version as well.
This mineral sunscreen from a brand all about women on the move protects against UVA, UVB, and blue light, primes skin for makeup, and prevents moisture loss due to its super hydrating formula. It contains plant-derived squalane and hyaluronic acid to moisturize skin, as well as antioxidants to protect against aging. It has a slight tint (that blends into all skin tones) to ensure there is no white cast left behind.
We love brands founded by derms because you know the ingredients will be skin-loving and effective. This BB cream is a true all-in-one mineral sunscreen. “Mineral based sunscreen is inert, meaning one cannot be allergic to it,” says Dr. Audrey Kunin, board certified dermatologist and DERMAdoctor founder.
“This makes it safe for all skin types. It’s also kinder to the environment and reefs. Our sunscreen has 15 skin-care benefits including anti-aging, moisturizing, mattifying, pore minimizing and redness reducing actions,” adds Dr. Kunin.
For a budget-friendly body sunscreen, this Sport Mineral line from Coppertone is perfect for long days at the beach or on the soccer field. Shake well and spray about six inches from the skin for optimal application. The convenience factor of this spray applicator cannot be overlooked, and it’s super water resistant—up to 80 minutes. The fragrance-free mineral sunscreen is safe for the whole family.
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