The 5 Best Clean Sunscreen – 2024

We all want to soak up the sun without soaking in harmful chemicals. But did you know some sunscreens can contain ingredients that aren't safe for you or the planet? Our guide will show you the best clean sunscreens that protect your skin and keep our oceans pure. Get ready for guilt-free glow!

The Importance of Using a Clean Sunscreen

When it comes to protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, using a clean sunscreen is essential. This means avoiding toxic chemicals and ensuring broad-spectrum protection for both you and the environment.

What to Avoid in a Clean Sunscreen

When choosing the best clean sunscreen for your skin and the environment, you must know which ingredients to steer clear of. Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate, as they can disrupt hormone levels and damage coral reefs.

Also, stay away from products containing retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that could potentially speed up the growth of skin tumors when exposed to sunlight.

Make sure your clean sunscreen doesn’t include fragrances or parabens; these additives can cause allergic reactions and are unnecessary in effective sun protection. Look for options without high SPFs – above 50+ doesn’t mean better defense against UV rays and might mislead you into thinking you’re safer than you actually are.

Instead, opt for broad-spectrum protection to guard against UVA and UVB rays adequately without harming your health or the planet’s wellbeing. Choose mineral-based formulas with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that sit on top of the skin rather than being absorbed into it, ensuring safety for both adults and babies with delicate skin.

Keep an eye out for eco-friendly brands listed amongst the best clean sunscreen, no white cast options, offering effective UV protection while being kind to marine life.

Harmful chemicals to look out for

Watch out for oxybenzone and octinoxate in your sunscreen’s ingredients. These chemicals can disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies. They’re also bad news for marine life, contributing to the bleaching of coral reefs when they wash off our bodies into the ocean.

Another culprit is homosalate, which can accumulate in our bodies faster than we can get rid of it, posing potential health risks.

Avoid sunscreens with vitamin A or retinyl palmitate as well; there’s evidence suggesting that it may speed up the development of skin tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.

Stay clear of parabens, too – these preservatives are linked to endocrine disruption and reproductive issues. Instead, look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients for a safer alternative that provides effective protection from harmful UV rays without compromising your health or the environment.

Next up: Understanding why non-broad spectrum protection isn’t enough when choosing your sunscreen.

Non-broad spectrum protection

Moving beyond the chemicals, let’s talk about protection. Non-broad spectrum sunscreens shield your skin from UVB rays but fall short against UVA rays. These are equally harmful and can penetrate deeply into your skin, speeding up aging and increasing cancer risk.

You want a sunscreen that guards you fully, offering both UVA and UVB protection.

Clean sunscreen brands typically emphasize broad-spectrum coverage because it is essential for comprehensive care. Seek out labels that clearly state “broad spectrum” or indicate PA+++, which demonstrates a high level of UVA protection.

This way, you ensure your skin stays safe from all angles while supporting environmentally friendly products.

Negative environmental impact

Shifting focus from individual skin protection, we must also consider the broader consequences that sunscreen can have on our planet. Many traditional sunscreens contain chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. This isn’t good, since research shows they can pose a threat to marine ecosystems when they wash off our bodies into oceans.

These ingredients are not only harmful to aquatic wildlife but can disrupt entire ocean habitats essential for maintaining biodiversity.

Choosing the best clean sunscreen brands is more than just about personal health; it’s also about stewardship of the environment. By selecting products without these damaging substances, eco-conscious consumers take an active role in protecting fragile coral reefs and ensuring cleaner seas.

It’s crucial to pick sunscreens bearing labels such as “reef-safe” or those with non-toxic, clean sunscreen options that prioritize biodegradable ingredients compatible with ocean life.

Top Recommendations for Clean Sunscreens

Thrive Natural Care Mineral Face Sunscreen

Support communities

Protects skin with sustainable ingredients and supports Costa Rican farmers.
Best Overall

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  • SPF 30 for strong sun protection

  • Moisturizing formula to keep skin hydrated

  • Natural mineral-based sunscreen for gentle protection

  • Scented for a pleasant application experience

  • Lightweight and portable at just 2 ounces

Thrive Natural Care Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 30 stands out as a champion for both your skin and the environment. Eco-conscious shoppers will appreciate that each purchase directly supports Costa Rican farmers, enabling them to rejuvenate their land while producing super plants like Juanilama and Fierrillo. This sunscreen isn’t just about protection, either. It’s a potent moisturizer packed with antioxidants from Coralillo and Arabica coffee oil that helps soothe, repair, and shield your skin against daily stress.

Our pick for top-notch clean sun care is deeply rooted in its commitment to health – inside and out. Thrive uses Zinc Oxide, which provides a safe physical barrier between you and the sun without leaving any white cast or greasiness. The formula is vegan, cruelty-free, and PABA-free – traits not easily found in other sunscreens on the market. It doesn’t sting your eyes either, making it comfortable for everyday use, whether you’re hitting the beach or bustling through city life.

What makes Thrive Natural Care rise to number one is its upgraded formula that blends seamlessly into your skincare routine without pilling—perfect even under makeup. By choosing this sunscreen as part of your daily regimen, you’re not only protecting yourself with broad-spectrum coverage but also participating in an ethical supply chain that cares for our planet’s future.


  • Supports Costa Rican farmers and sustainable farming practices

  • High-quality, natural ingredients with no harmful chemicals or synthetic fragrances

  • Effective sun protection and skin repair properties with SPF 30 and antioxidant-rich formula

  • Lightweight, non-greasy mineral sunscreen suitable for daily use


  • Some users may find the subtle citric scent from natural essential oils too strong for their preference.

  • The product may be on the higher end of the price range compared to other mineral sunscreens available in the market.

  • People with very oily skin might find that they need to reapply the sunscreen more frequently throughout the day.

The ideal customer for Thrive Natural Care Mineral Face Sunscreen is someone who cares about using clean, natural, and effective products on their skin. If you want to protect your skin from the sun while supporting sustainable farming practices, this sunscreen is perfect for you. Don’t wait any longer – try the best clean sunscreen today!

Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray

For the eco-warrior

Ideal for eco-conscious individuals seeking effective sun protection with a tropical scent.
Runner Up

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  • 50 SPF for high sun protection

  • Nourishing formula to keep skin healthy

  • Convenient spray application

  • Light coconut scent for a pleasant experience

  • Lightweight at 22.68 grams

Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray stands out as a top choice for eco-conscious sun-seekers. With its Broad Spectrum SPF 50 protection, it shields your face and body from the harsh rays of the sun while embracing environmental responsibilities. Its biodegradable formula ensures that you’re not only protecting your skin but also caring for our oceans and marine life. With Hawaiian coconut, aloe vera, and nourishing oils, this sunscreen offers a refreshing scent and hydration for any beach day.

Taking pride in being water-resistant yet gentle on aquatic ecosystems, Alba Botanica makes it easy to reapply after swimming or sweating without guilt over harming coral reefs. This product earns its place as number two on our list because aside from high-level UV defense, it is also 100% vegetarian. Users rave about how effortlessly it applies without leaving a sticky residue. So, you get pure protection coupled with island vibes.

Choosing Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray means committing to both personal health and ecological wellbeing. The lightweight texture makes it an ideal companion for outdoor enthusiasts who want to keep their skin safe without heavy creams or harmful chemicals weighing them down. By choosing this one, you align with sustainable practices while still enjoying the sun responsibly.


  • SPF 50 for strong sun protection

  • Water-resistant formula for extended outdoor activities

  • Biodegradable ingredients for eco-friendly use

  • Infused with nourishing coconut oil and aloe vera


  • Application may be uneven with a spray, requiring extra care to ensure complete coverage.

  • The coconut fragrance may not suit those who are sensitive to strong scents.

  • It might leave a slight oily residue on the skin after application.

This innovative sunscreen spray is perfect for active individuals who want to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays while also maintaining a clean and environmentally friendly lifestyle. With its biodegradable formula and refreshing Hawaiian coconut scent, Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray is an essential addition to any beach bag or outdoor adventure kit. Don’t wait, try it out now!

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen

Helps the oceans

Natural sun protection for all ages without harsh chemicals.
Best Zinc

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  • Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen

  • Made in the USA by Babo Botanicals

  • Offers SPF 30

  • Non-nano zinc formula

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen stands out with its natural zinc oxide barrier, offering broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. Ideal for the eco-conscious shopper, this sunscreen commits to a minimal environmental footprint while safeguarding your skin from harmful rays. The non-nano zinc formula means less risk of absorption into ocean ecosystems, perfect for those who prioritize coral reef safety during their beach visits.

What makes this lotion a top pick is its utility across all ages and skin types, coupled with its adherence to vegan standards and absence of artificial fragrances. It’s fortified with nourishing shea butter – a boon for maintaining moisture even as you dive into water sports or hiking adventures, thanks to its impressive water resistance. Certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), users can trust in the transparency and safety of the ingredients used.

Securing our number three spot on the list, Babo Botanicals delivers effectiveness wrapped in conscious care. This mineral sunscreen not only protects your face and body but does so without compromising on ethics or earth-friendly practices – a commendable fusion that resonates well within the clean beauty community looking for reliable sun defense.


  • Offers SPF 30 protection using natural zinc oxide

  • Contains shea butter for moisturizing and nourishing the skin

  • Suitable for both face and body application

  • Fragrance-free, water-resistant, and ideal for all ages


  • Some may find the sunscreen to be a bit thick and require extra rubbing for even application

  • The white cast from the zinc oxide may not blend well with all skin tones, especially for darker skin

The ideal customer for Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen is someone who values natural and safe ingredients in their skincare products. This fragrance-free formula is perfect for fair-skinned sun worshippers looking for sun protection. Say goodbye to chemical-laden sunscreen and try the best clean option today!

BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

Effective protection

Gentle, reef-safe SPF 50+ sunscreen for sensitive skin.
Best Reef-Safe

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  • 50 SPF mineral sunscreen

  • Chemical-free protection

  • Acts like tiny mirrors to reflect UV rays away

  • Unscented formula

  • Made in the USA

  • Compact and lightweight

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen steps up the game for those who are health and environmentally conscious. With its SPF 50+ broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, it’s a fortress against the sun’s damaging rays without compromising skin sensitivity. The mineral-based formula contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which act like tiny shields on your skin, reflecting harmful rays away naturally. It’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who also care about preserving marine life. It’s free from oxybenzone and octinoxate, so this sunscreen won’t contribute to coral reef bleaching.

The sweat and water resistance of this sunscreen lasts a solid 80 minutes – enough to enjoy an extended swim or intense workout session with peace of mind that your skin is covered. Plus, it ditches parabens and fragrances that often irritate sensitive skin types. For those mindful of their carbon footprint and body health, Blue Lizard ensures you’re not slathering on any unnecessary chemicals.

One standout feature is the smart bottle technology: take it outside and watch it turn blue as UV rays hit–a clever reminder to apply protection! Longtime dermatologists’ trust converges with eco-friendly ingenuity in Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen – making every application a win-win for you and the environment.


  • SPF 50+ broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection for thorough sun defense

  • Sweat and water-resistant (80 minutes) to keep you protected during outdoor activities

  • Paraben-free and fragrance-free, making it ideal for sensitive skin

  • Mineral sunscreen, with no chemical active ingredients, offering skin-safe UV protection


  • It may leave a slight white cast on the skin due to the mineral ingredients.

  • Thicker consistency may require more effort to blend into the skin.

  • Can be pricey compared to other sunscreen options.

Are you looking for a sunscreen that is gentle on your sensitive skin and free from harsh chemicals? Look no further than BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen! Perfect for those who prioritize reef-safe and clean ingredients, this SPF 50+ mineral sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection. All the while, being sweat and water-resistant. Say goodbye to parabens and fragrances as you protect your skin with thousands of tiny mirrors that reflect UV rays away. Join us in our mission to love the reef with this smart bottle technology sunscreen. Try it now!

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen

Ultimate sunblock

Ideal for active individuals seeking safe, natural, water-resistant sun protection.
Best High SPF

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  • Provides SPF 50+ sun protection

  • Mineral-based sunscreen for safe and effective UV defense

  • Hydrating formula with a pleasant citrus scent

  • Suitable for all ages, including babies from one-month-old and up

  • Convenient 6 ounces size for easy portability

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen stands out as a champion for both your skin and the environment. Crafted with care, this sunblock hits all the marks for safety-conscious outdoor enthusiasts. The mineral-based formula is free from harmful chemicals like PABA, parabens, and phthalates—a win for anyone wary of toxin exposure. Plus, it’s vegan and reef-friendly, ensuring that your sun protection routine doesn’t harm marine life or contribute to coral bleaching.

The easy application means no fuss or mess when you’re ready to hit the waves or trails. And because it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, swimmers and athletes can focus on their performance without frequent reapplications. Thinksport has gone above and beyond by avoiding nano zinc oxide and aerosol sprays, which are questionable in safety; they favor transparency and efficiency instead.

Beyond its robust protective features against UVA/UVB rays, Thinksport’s sunscreen enjoys accolades from users ranging from pro athletes to weekend joggers who appreciate its non-oily feel—it’s proof that effective sun care need not sacrifice comfort or eco-responsibility. It’s no surprise that health-savvy shoppers have kept this product at the top of EWG’s Skin Deep database ratings since 2010 with a “1” rating—evidence of its commitment to superior skin safety standards.


  • Accurate ingredient list for peace of mind

  • High water resistance for endurance in sports and activities

  • Clean mineral formula free from harmful chemicals

  • Easy application without oily or sticky residue


  • Not suitable for individuals requiring fragrance-free products.

  • It may leave a slight white cast on deeper skin tones due to its mineral formulation.

  • Some users may find the consistency slightly thicker compared to chemical sunscreens.

Looking for the best clean sunscreen? The Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen is perfect for active individuals who value safe, natural ingredients and effective sun protection. Say goodbye to harmful chemicals and hello to a water-resistant sun cream. Try it now and experience the difference!


Q: What does SPF stand for and why is it important in clean sunscreen?

A: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it measures a sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from UVB rays. Choosing a clean sunscreen with a suitable SPF is important for effectively shielding the skin from sun damage and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

Q: What is the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens?

A: Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, while mineral sunscreens create a physical barrier by reflecting and scattering the UV rays. Clean sunscreen often refers to mineral sunscreens that use natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Q: Can you recommend some top picks for clean sunscreens?

A: Some top picks for clean sunscreens include those formulated with non-toxic ingredients, non-nano zinc oxide, and certified organic materials. These sunscreens offer effective protection without the use of harmful chemicals.

Q: What are the benefits of using a non-toxic sunscreen?

A: Using a non-toxic sunscreen reduces the risk of skin irritation and allergic reactions, while also minimizing the absorption of potentially harmful chemicals by the skin. It’s a safer option for both the skin and the environment.

Q: How do I choose between SPF 30 and SPF 50 for my sunscreen?

A: Choosing between SPF 30 and SPF 50 depends on your skin type and the duration of sun exposure. SPF 30 provides adequate protection for daily activities, while SPF 50 is suitable for prolonged sun exposure or individuals with fair or sensitive skin.

Q: What are some key ingredients to look for in a clean sunscreen?

A: When selecting a clean sunscreen, look for ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, natural oils, and plant-based antioxidants. These ingredients provide effective sun protection while nourishing and soothing the skin.

Q: Do mineral sunscreens leave a white residue on the skin?

A: Some mineral sunscreens may leave a white cast on the skin due to the presence of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. However, advancements in formulation have led to sheer mineral sunscreens that blend seamlessly without leaving a noticeable residue.

Q: What are some common inactive ingredients in clean sunscreens?

A: Inactive ingredients in clean sunscreens often include natural moisturizers like shea butter, vitamin E for antioxidant protection, and botanical extracts such as green tea or chamomile to soothe the skin.

Q: Are spray sunscreens considered a good option for clean sun protection?

A: While convenient, spray sunscreens can pose inhalation risks and may not provide an even application, leading to inadequate sun protection. For clean sun protection, it’s advisable to opt for lotions or creams that can be evenly spread over the skin.

Q: How can I identify the best non-toxic and natural sunscreen options?

A: Look for non-toxic and natural sunscreen options that are free of parabens, oxybenzone, and synthetic fragrances. Additionally, seek products with certifications for organic or natural ingredients, as these offer higher quality and safer sun protection.


In conclusion, keeping your skin safe from harmful UV rays while also being mindful of the environment is crucial. The Thrive Natural Care Mineral Face Sunscreen offers SPF 30 protection and a moisturizing formula for gentle and effective sun protection.

Plus, Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray provides high 50 SPF coverage with a nourishing formula and easy application.

About the Author

Tanja is an advocate of all things clean-beauty. She's forever on the lookout for new and exciting products, whether they come from faraway Korea or the beauty labs of Paris.

Her favorite brand is Shiseido, a Japanese company who craft luxurious, high-end makeup in gorgeous packaging.

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