Gone are the days when mineral sunscreens were thick, chalky, and left your face covered in a (very unappealing) white residue. The latest formulations are sheer, weightless and barely detectable, not to mention ideal for layering under makeup.
But before we get to some of our faves, a quick science lesson. Sunscreens fall into one of two camps: those that use chemical blockers (common ones include avobenzone, oxybenzone and homosalate) and those that use physical blockers (minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) -- and some formulas combine the two. The difference? "Simply put, the chemicals penetrate into the skin and absorb UV rays, while minerals sit on top of the skin and deflect them," explains Peter Lio, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University.
Which one you choose ultimately boils down to a matter of personal preference, though mineral sunscreens do have advantages. Mineral formulas are better tolerated if you have sensitive skin, says Lio, since chemical sunscreens are more likely to cause irritation, and they deliver immediate protection. (There's still some debate over how quickly chemical formulas take effect.) Some studies have also shown that physical blockers may not only deflect UVA and UVB rays, but skin-damaging infrared radiation, too (also known as IR, which we feel as heat). And while you can't necessarily equate mineral with natural -- mineral formulas do contain other ingredients, after all -- if you're looking to green your beauty routine, mineral is the way to go. TBH, the most important thing is that you're wearing sunscreen every single day, so find one that you love and stick with it. But if you're going to make it mineral, be sure to try any -- or all -- of these 11 standouts.
Slather on this skin-saver every day to keep the dermatologist away. Not only does it keep your complexion youthful thanks to the sun protection it delivers, but it also contains a blend of peptides to support healthy collagen and elastin and VIP proteins for keeping skin smooth and firm. The tint is subtle enough to work on any complexion, yet enough to make everything look flawless and even. Consider this your go-to on days when you want to skip makeup.
Undetectable almost as soon as it goes on, yet delightfully creamy at the same time (magic?), even SPF haters won't have anything to complain about with this 'screen. It's so fast-absorbing that you can immediately apply makeup on top, without having to wait around for it to absorb. It also goes above and beyond its standard job description, incorporating DNA repair enzymes that undo damage caused by UV radiation.
Any mineral sunscreen is a good bet if your skin is on the sensitive side, but this one takes it one step further; it's also free of fragrance and parabens, and is hypoallergenic. Not to mention that it also has a UVA protection rating of PA++++. This rating system indicates the level of protection against UVA rays, the ones responsible for aging, and this just happens to be the highest possible.
In our experience, sunscreens tend to feel either too greasy, or, on the flip side, oddly drying. This newbie strikes just the right balance. Hydrating raspberry seed oil, marula oil and a subtle tint leave skin fresh and glowy, but not overly slick. Antioxidants are another important player when it comes to sunscreen, scavenging up free radicals caused by exposure to UV rays, and this formula contains multiple different ones to up the protection ante.