sunscreens: products

= physical (a.k.a. mineral) sunscreens: mainly a long list of products currently available, mostly on the North American market.
Last updated: 2014-05-04
First posted: 2011-06-11

Contents in brief / navigation:

criteria and caveats for selection
• current ones being used right now
the long list: sunscreens I’ve used, ones only tested, and others not tried (or not recently) myself but that have been well received on MakeupAlley
• tips on how to choose a sunscreen: what to look for in ingredient lists to get information about the sunscreen base (and so guesstimate elegance and other wearability factors) and particle size and coating (for gauging performance, but also in case you are avoiding any particular sizes); tint (useful to the vast majority of the world’s population); texture (for oilier/drier skins, and subjective feel and finish); further resources on sunscreens (mainly about how they work, and links to other online lists of all-physical sunscreens).


The sunscreens here are:

  • physical-only: preference for being all zinc oxide, or mainly zinc oxide (ZnO) with some titanium dioxide (TiO2), and with at least 10% ZnO
  • at least SPF 30 and probably around PPD 10
  • fragrance-free
  • as far as possible, with smaller-size zinc oxide, usually coated (ex. Z-cote)
  • without cyclopentasiloxane, heavier cloggier oils & waxes (ex. coconut oil, cocoa butter), and other ingredients known to be problematic on my skin
  • and compatible (except where indicated otherwise) with my usual criteria for buying “better” (including ethically)

Some sunscreens appear in the list below and don’t tick all the boxes above. I’ve listed them for reference, being ones that are popular, common, widely available, and/or often mentioned in various media (and, in some cases, heavily marketeered). It may be easier to make sense of other sunscreens that may be from previously unheard-of brands, when placed in relation to something more familiar. Hopefully contextualization helps with comparison and choice, anyway.

This is a CUMULATIVE post: first posted in June 2011, updated over the next years.

For more detail on some specific sunscreens, see other posts about sunscreens on this present blog.


  • continue to update post as sunscreens appear, disappear, and are reformulated
  • add links for, ideally, each one: to manufacturer site
  • add prices
  • add ingredient-lists for as many as possible


1. This is a LONG list.

There are now nearly 200 sunscreens on it, including ones for the eye area and for lips… so it may need some time and concentration to read, and more than one sitting. Be ye warned…


2. I have not tried and tested everything on the market.


3. I am limited by what I can use on my skin. I can use only very few available sunscreen actives and products.

This does mean, though, that when a new filter appears, I will try it: often both in the form of the isolated filter alone (in bland solution, at various concentrations, etc.) and in the form of finished products. I do human-volunteer testing, and have done for all my adult legally-consenting life (so that’s 22 years now!): some just for my own benefit and that of my doctor; some for medical/academic data-collection on skin sensitivities—some of my reactions are preserved for all posterity in journal articles and indeed in some classic textbook images—albeit, like all us sensitives, sacrificing identity for such immortality (there’s always a catch…); and some for commercial labs, especially those that are working actively to end testing on non-human involuntary animal subjects.


4. I don’t usually test anything else out if what I’m using at any particular moment continues to work (=no reasonable point in changing).

I will look around if what I’m currently using is discontinued, the formula changes, or the manufacturers (heaven forfend!) go out of business. And I’ll keep my eyes open in case I see something that is cheaper and (or at least: on paper, pre-testing, looks) better. But my wallet is as irritable as my skin. On the skin front, what with sensitivities, fragility, damagability, intolerance: I’m conservative, wary, sceptical, and even after a lot of research will hesitate before playing around with testing.


5. Most of the sunscreens here are ZnO-only or ZnO + TiO2.

There are a few sunscreens here that just use titanium dioxide for their active: some are old ones I used before I knew better, some are popular better-known ones, and some just snuck in when I wasn’t looking. Suggestion: avoid them, there’s better out there with better protection across the whole UV spectrum (i.e. also UVA).


6. No comments on particle size and coating.

Over to you on the research there, and on what your particular preferences and/or peeves are. There are some notes on this further down, in The Dead Zone beyond The List.


7. I have NOT included sunscreens that are part-chemical. For why, see 3. above; for why this is not necessarily in negative judgement of these sunscreens, see 8. below.

This category, part-chemical sunscreens, includes a lot that look deceptively like zinc oxide sunscreens: Ocean Potion, Solar Sense, SolarexMD, SolRx, Walgreens Clear Zinc, Zinka Clear, etc. Same goes for uses of the words “baby,” “gentle,” “kids,” “sensitive:” ex. assorted L’Uciferian “sensitive” part-to-all-chemical sunscreens (La Roche-Posay, Ombrelle, etc.). Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50 is NOT a physical sunscreen (please, nice people, stop emailing me about this one): active ingredients = zinc oxide 17% (some versions are 19%, depends on the country), octinoxate 7.5%, and titanium dioxide 2%. For other common examples, see: La Mer and Dior Snow stuff, and a bunch of Shiseido sunscreens of the zinc oxide + octinoxate variety (also, by the bye: animal-tested).

Read. The. Label. Carefully. Especially the ingredient-list…


8. If you do not see a sunscreen listed here, that does not necessarily mean that it’s no good. There are two reasons why it might not be here:

(a) I don’t know about it: in which case, let me know!

(b) it doesn’t fit my listing criteria; it’s probably not all-physical, or it is but it’s all-TiO2.
Do bear in mind that there are many excellent sunscreens out there that are part- or all-chemical: indeed, all the best sunscreens for broad-spectrum protection and especially in the UVA range—so not just high SPF but also high PPD—all of these do not appear here, as the current best ones use either one of the Mexoryl filters or one of the Tinosorb ones. I would love to be able to wear these sunscreens, and to list them here, but I can’t. My skin can, for the record, tolerate Tinosorbs: but not in any of the current commercially-available finished-product sunscreens, due to irritation from the other filters with which the Tinosorb/s is/are combined.


9. If you see any errors of fact (ex. a company is now cruelty-free, or not): let me know and I’ll make the requisite changes. Same goes for spotting any discontinuations and any new products.


10. If you make it all the way to the end of the post, below The Dead Zone beyond The List you’ll find a link to a song


Sarah Leslie, “Chocolate Sun”



  • Vanicream SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2)
    or Babo Botanicals SPF 30 (ZnO)
    or Green Beaver SPF 30 (ZnO


  • BurnOut Ocean Tested Lip SPF 32 (ZnO), coconut flavour
  • or: Elemental Herbs Unscented Sunstick SPF 30 (ZnO)


  • Vanicream SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2)
    or Babo Botanicals SPF 30 (ZnO)
    or Green Beaver SPF 30 (ZnO)
  • also recommended, used less recently:
    Elemental Herbs Kid/Sport SPF 30 (ZnO)
    or: Graham’s SunClear SPF 30+ (ZnO, Australian)
    or: Topix Replenix Sheer Physical SPF 50+ (ZnO)

AND ALSO, slopping on sunscreen being only one small part of sun protection:


  • slip: cover up: long sleeves etc.
  • slap: a hat
  • seek: avoiding direct intense sun, seeking shade; or, feline slinking
  • slide: sunglasses; cat-eye or other stylish and slinky


  • Vanicream SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2): intensive sun, and/or on areas of high exposure and burnability: tops of feet, shoulders, neck, ears


= five stars. Plain and simple. And SHOUTING OUT the name.

= good around the eyes, as well as primary intended purpose (face, lips, general use all over, etc.)

= powder mineral sunscreen: may be a good idea on oilier skin; or for those who can’t tolerate all known liquid, cream, etc. ones; or as a top-up for using over main sunscreen during the day.
NB: Will not be as protective as a non-powder sunscreen, as the latter ensure more even coverage whilst using a thinner layer of less product.

= a tinted sunscreen (some are also powder ones), including some BB and CC creams and suchlike. A good idea on most skintones, when dealing with ZnO and TiO, which are whitening. Not a good idea on paler skintones. Hence why I’m not using them.
NB: if applied in a light elegant fine layer, may not be as protective as a sunscreen proper. Depending on formulation.

non-bold name + italics + TESTED ON ANIMALS
not cruelty-free, or cruelty-free status uncertain
Using the term “animal-tested” re. a company conducting animal testing themselves, on products and newly-developed ingredients, in development and production stages. As distinct from all testing of all ingredients, which have all (well, pretty much all, everything legally allowed to be used on human skin: water, for example) been tested on animals at some point even a long long time ago and not by that company for that product.
“Cruelty-free” can be misleading, and can give the illusion of innocence and purity. No-one is pure as the driven snow: we are all tainted by generations of animal abuse: while sins of the fathers cannot be washed away, and while we ourselves may not be individually guilty, this is a minimal mark of respect for other fellow sentient beings’ suffering and sacrifice.
NB: this position is changing (as of March 2013) for European companies, in the wake of these new changes in EU legislation. In an ideal world, many of the animal-tested companies will have joined civilized humanity by this time next year, or the year after, or soon anyway…

non-bold name + italics +TESTED ON ANIMALS (CHINA)
the company itself doesn’t conduct any animal testing itself (from ingredients through development and manufacturing and on to final product at last stages), but its products are for sale on the Chinese market. They may be subject to testing by the Chinese authorities prior to approval for sale. That testing may (currently mostly does) include testing on animals. As such, the original company concerned is guilty of washing its hands of responsibility for ensuring that its products are not tested on animals as part of that pre-sale state approval process (this is particularly the case for sunscreens, which are in a different category from other cosmetic products, closer to that of drugs).
For more on the complexities of the Chinese situation and an explanation of this rationale, see here.

= changed, reformulated beyond recognition, discontinued, disappeared, and otherwise deceased. Note that as this is a cumulative list, it may include sunscreens that have been discontinued since I last looked into or tried them out.

= Badgeriffic Badger-likes: thick, greasy, pasty, whitening; clown-face guaranteed; not for adults and anyone else post-pubescent, but probably great on toddlers. For more on butt-paste-y Badgerlikes, see greenwashing (6): sunscreens (1)

= not tested this myself: there may be a reason for this (contains known irritants, that is, ingredients known to irritate my skin; YMMV for all other skins), or not (just haven’t got round to it). Includes some other all-physicals that have received good reception on MUA and seem to actually work; I don’t always have full names and SPFs and ingredients, but should have included enough of the name to make these findable if you’re interested and (re)searching.


  • 100% Pure Argan Oil Hydration Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T (reason: contains known irritants)
  • 100% Pure Pomegranate Antioxidant Hydration SPF 20 (ZnO):
    N/T (reason: contains known irritants)
  • Acure Organics Mineral Protection Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T, looks decent on paper
  • Alba Botanica fragrance-free/kids mineral SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    Tested, mild irritation.
  • All Terrain aqua/terra/etc. physical SPF 30, and the spray versions (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T properly (just did patch-test on hand), looks decent on paper, but failed Consumer Reports testing for label claims on sun protection
  • Andalou Naturals All in One Beauty Balm Sheer Tint with SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: tint, scent
  • Andalou Naturals Oil Control Beauty Balm Untinted with SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: scent (palmarosa = frquent irritant on my skin); otherwise looks really nice
  • Arcona Reozone 40 SPF 40 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T (reason: silly price for what it is)+ animal-testing status unknown
  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Unscented SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    Near-unwearable: greasy, whitening. Newly reformulated (2013), and AO have at long last binned the old unstable chemical sunscreens in favour of some straight-up (albeit old-fashioned) all-physicals. The old grapefruit-seed-extract preservative has been replaced by Japanese honeysuckle extract (works like parabens, roughly speaking, and a better solution). Still, old-fashioned Badgerlike formulation… think older Badger… Also in scented versions (tropical / green tea). With all the AO sunscreens: a better bet on body than face, re. potentially clogging ingredients. One point of interest / questionable: large particle size, uncoated, and a very high %age of filters used for the resulting SPF.
    2014 version may be different: check ingredient-lists.
  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Unscented SPF 30 Green Tea Antioxidant (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Unscented SPF 30 Spray (ZnO):
    N/T: looks decent on paper, but at the greasier and more Badgerlike end of the spectrum.
  • Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Unscented SPF 45 (ZnO):
    UNWEARABLE Badgerlike and greasy, but the most protective of their current offerings. Also in “Kids” version.
  • Ava Anderson Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: looks OK but may be Badgerlike
  • Avène High Protection Mineral Cream SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    thick, pasty, and either chalky or a disastrous tint for anyone other than a narrow band of population: neither for paler people nor for darker ones. For tinted s/s, look elsewhere.
  • Aveeno Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    There’s also a “Baby” version that’s identical (except for the word “Baby” which has been inserted before “Natural”).
    Problem: failed 
    Consumer Reports testing for label claims on sun protection
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    Nice: testing of the unscented version in progress (May 2014). Formula very like Elemental Herbs, minus the latter’s grapeseed extract and olive oil.
  • Badger Unscented Sport SPF 35 (ZnO):
    the most adult-compatible of the current Badger sunscreens; moist and minimal formula; but uncoated large particles, hard to distribute evenly (except if applying solid thick layer like clown makeup), otherwise burning. I burned with this.
  • Badger, other sunscreens (ZnO or ZnO + TiO2):
    Add also, re the Unscented SPF 34: failed Consumer Reports testing for label claims on sun protection (but possibly not the current 2013 formulation? check with CS and B)
  • Banana Boat Natural Reflect Sunscreen Lotion/Kids SPF 30+ (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, looked Badgerlike on paper
  • BECCA Mineral SPF 30+ Face and Body Sunscreen (ZnO):
    N/T; scented, replacement for the old discontinued SPF primer
  • BECCA Mineral Tint SPF 30+ Sunscreen (ZnO):
    N/T; three shades available, scented
  • Belly Buttons & Babies SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: a very high-zinc minimalist one, looks on paper like it might be baby butt paste-y
  • Bioderma ABCDerm Sun Cream SPF 50+ (ZnO + TiO2)
  • Bioderma Photoderm Mineral SPF 50+ Fluid  (ZnO + TiO2):
    much improved on previous very pasty versions, but siliconey, still greasy (“fluid” is a misnomer), and last but not least…
  • ***** BLUE LIZARD SENSITIVE / BABY SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2) *****
    unscented; the baby and sensitive versions are identical; when buying this, I usually buy a gallon, which will last (two people, the other one using this on face too) the next couple of years or so. Our regular summer slap-it-on-all-over sunscreen. “Australian formula”: American company, made in an American lab, but to Australian standard. Usable all over, including eye area.
  • BurnOut Eco-Sensitive Clean & Clear SPF 35 (ZnO)
    USED TO BE one of the most cosmetically-elegant sunscreens I’ve used, green or otherwise, and the loveliest silicone-less one I’ve ever met. Needs some serious moisturising underneath, can be drying. My regular face s/s for a long time. Current version is thick, pasty, slightly cloggy, and a big NO. Verging on the Badgerlike: any more reformulations along these lines and this will be UNWEARABLE, and even the thickest Badger will look airy-light in comparison.
  • BurnOut Kids SPF 30 (ZnO):
    thicker, greasy, and slightly irritating on me; recommend the ones above and below instead.
  • BurnOut Ocean Tested SPF 30 (ZnO)
    USED TO BE a decent sunscreen. Moister than Eco-Sensitive; also waterproof without clogging, good in water, if sweating, etc. My regular body s/s. Lighter than the current (2014) E-S, but thicker than Vanicream. Same comments as for the Eco-Sensitive on Badgerlike perils.
  • Burt’s Bees, various:
    UNWEARABLE + I think also RIP, for their old Badgerlike sunscreens
    some might also consider their products NOT CRUELTY-FREE / borderline TESTED ON ANIMALS as the parent company, Clorox, isn’t.
  • California Baby SPF 30 super sensitive / no fragrance (TiO2):
    OK on body, otherwise greasy though not as bad as Badgerlikes; iffy on face (zits); like their other TiO2 sunscreens, insufficient UVA protection. Also: failed Consumer Reports testing for label claims on sun protection
  • Cancer Council Australia Sensitive SPF 30+ (ZnO):
    N/T: looks decent on paper; their other sunscreens are all at least part-chemical
  • Canyon Ranch Your Transformation Protect UVA/UVB SPF 30 Facial Moisturizer (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T; contains known irritants
    ??? ANIMAL-TESTING STATUS: unknown, have emailed company to check
  • Cellex-C Sun Care SPF 30+ (ZnO + TiO2):
  • CeraVe Body Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: looks decent on paper, there are reports of greasy thickness
  • CeraVe Face Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: looks decent on paper, quite a siliconey one
  • Chocolate Sun Marigold Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T (reason: contains known irritants) and RIP? (2013-05-27: products no longer on MF website and all extant references to it online are from 2010-11)
  • Clarins UV Plus HP SPF 40 Day Screen (TiO2):
    fond memories; some irritation from fragrance; changes name and varies formula from time to time, current one has some more of some fruit or other in it (watermelon?). Their men’s SPF 20 (and its various incarnations) is similar.
    Big con: insufficient UVA protection (TiO2 being the only active). May also have too much alcohol in it for more sensitive skins. And scent. And, depending on version, SLS which is not a great idea for a leave-on product on assorted kinds of sensitive skins.
  • Clarins UV Plus HP SPF 40 Day Screen Tint (TiO2):
    N/T: tinted version of previous item, three shades available
  • Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Eye Contour Care SPF 30 (TiO2):
    splendid unscented eye-area sunscreen, except for the insufficient UVA protection
  • Cliniderm SPF 45 (ZnO + TiO2):
    very matte, too dry on me
  • Clinique old City Blocks SPF 25 and the even older 15 … (ZnO + TiO2):
    the next versions of the 25 were unwearable, tint too dark and greasy.
    NB Clinique’s CX SPF 40, and their other sunscreens, are part-physical, part-chemical.

  • Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    very good loose powder sunscreen, several delivery systems of which the brush-on one is the easiest to use, several tints; better on oilier skin, if drier need serious moisturising underneath (I can’t use this alone, and when I did use it—a while back—I used it as a sunscreen top-up over regular sunscreen; also, used on places like legs, evens out skintone like foundation would)
  • Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, sounds like it’s much heavier and more drying
  • Colescience Sunforgettable Eyescreen SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, on paper sounds like a finer-milled, pink-tinted version of the regular SPF 30 powder
  • COOLA Organic Suncare Collection Mineral Sunscreen: Face (ZnO + TiO2)
    N/T, contains known irritants
  • COOLA Organic Suncare Collection Plant UV Sunscreen: Body (ZnO)
    N/T, contains known irritants
  • COOLA Organic Suncare Collection Plant UV Sunscreen: Face (ZnO)
    N/T, looks the best of their current crop
  • Coral Safe → see Mexitan 
  • CosMedix Reflect SPF 30 (TiO2):
    N/T + insufficient UVA protection+ animal-testing status unknown
  • CoTZ Face SPF 40, Untinted for Lighter Skin Tones (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T current version: notes refer to older one (2010-11). Siliconey loveliness; but needs more serious removal. I.e. in the evening, I can’t be lazy but must pre-cleanse (plain oil or oil cleanser–GoW or SN), then wash thoroughly. Otherwise I get zitty bits in the more sensitive areas of face, around nose.
  • CoTZ Face SPF 40, for Natural Skin Tones (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: tinted version of previous item
  • CoTZ Pediatric / Sensitive SPF 40 (ZnO):
    N/T these two current versions; used previous version (looks similar to identical) called “20% Zinc Vanishing Formula SPF 35.” Good, but again I get zitty with this; and too dry on my skin.
  • CoTZ PURE SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T; main difference from previous items = use of plant-based ingredients, no silicones; light tint (which could mean anything; on me, usually rings warning bells)
  • Dermalogica SuperSensitive FaceBlock SPF 30 (TiO2 +ZnO):
    reactions (but when skin was generally reactive); reactions to the fragrance i.e. sneezing; occasionally been known to be OK on skin. Contains, hilariously, some phototoxic essential oils. Expensive, but cheaper than the similar-feeling Clarins UV Plus SPF 40
  • Dermaquest ZinClear SPF 30 (ZnO):
    Used a sample; formula may have changed since then. Reason not using: silly price, and on my skin it’s very like (the much cheaper) BurnOut Eco-Sensitive
  • Desert Essence Mineral SPF 35 (ZnO):
    N/T (contains known irritants)
  • Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO):
    irritation; burning (i.e. from sun); MF issues on functionality-testing; otherwise, feels gorgeous
  • Devita Solar Body Block / Body Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO):
    irritation and burning
  • Devita Rx UltraSolar 50 Moisturizer (ZnO):
    N/T; actual UVA & UVB protection uncertain, and once bitten twice shy on protection (or rather: twice burned thrice shy)
  • Dr Mercola → see Mexitan
  • E45 SPF 25 & 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    RIP: though they were thick and greasy, for a long time they were the only commercial sunscreens available to me. When they were terminated (and while I was still in the UK), I had to go over completely to pharmacist-compounded stuff. Fond memories, nostalgia.
  • Eco Logical Baby SPF 30+ (ZnO):
    Feels very like the Body one below, moister still, but irritation thanks to frankincense. American company, but Australian formulation, manufacture, and to Australian standards. All their sunscreens have a light sweet scent (c/o coconut & cocoa derivatives; unfragranced).
  • ***** ECO LOGICAL BODY SPF 30+ (ZnO) *****
    excellent around the eyes; slightly too rich/heavy for me on face.
  • ***** ECO LOGICAL FACE SPF 30+ (ZnO) *****
    lovely, all over face, around eyes too.
  • Ego SunSense Sensitive SPF 50+ (ZnO + TiO2) *****
    decent body sunscreen, light and clear; slight outbreaks on face and a little drying (grapeseed extract + olive oil?). Babo Botanicals is very similar (minus the latter two ingredients), fine on face.
  • Elta MD Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: looks good on paper, if OK with the silicones
  • Elta MD UV Physical SPF 41 (ZnO + TiO2):
    used and disliked old versi0n (tint unsuitable on my skin), many other people love it
  • Éminence Organics Persimmon & Cantaloupe Day Cream SPF 32 (ZnO):
    tested out (um, forcibly, and thereby hangs a tale), irritation; overpriced for what it is; no idea if it actually works as a sunscreen; but nice light texture
  • Epicuren Zinc Sunscreen SPF 20 (ZnO):
  • Episencial Babytime! Fragrance-Free Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T; looks decent on paper
  • Erbaviva Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: lavender oil
  • Fallene CoTZ → see CoTZ 
  • FANCL Sunguard SPF 30 PA+++ (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: heavy on the silicones
  • Ganehill → see Invisible Zinc
  • Glycolix Elite → see Topix
  • Goddess Garden Baby SPF 30 (ZnO):
    probably the best-formulated of their sunscreens (other versions have lavender), but basically a Badgerlike
  • GoodSkin All Calm Gentle Sunscreen SPF 25 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: not available here, never seen, seems not sufficiently amazing—only SPF 25—to be worth making that extra effort; but looks good on paper, and a decent price
  • ***** GRAHAM’S SUNCLEAR SPF 30+ (ZnO) *****
    very good simple stuff, unscented (but coconutty smell), clear zinc, slightly greasy feel but superb spreadable suff on body
  • Green Babies Zinc Oxide SPF 30 (zinc oxide)
    N/T: unscented but looks somewhat Badgerlike on paper, though users report it ging on clear (but unclear whether that’s by Badger-on-child standards or by cosmetically elegant adult ones)
  • Green Beaver SPF 30 Adult/Kids (ZnO):
    Nice, protects, moist. On the other hand: greasy and takes about an hour to sink in.
  • ***** HAMILTON SENSITIVE SPF 30+ (ZnO + TiO2) *****
    formula almost identical to Blue Lizard (which is interesting, as BL claims to be “Australian formula” but isn’t from Australia or for sale there, whereas Hamilton is, and is); available in Ireland (where BL isn’t); used this in the Antipodes in the late ’90s and in Ireland in the mid-’00s. Fond memories, good stuff.
  • Hang Ten Natural Sunscreen SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T (reason: contains known irritants)
  • Hara Sport SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T; reason: heavy butteriness (likely to be Badgerlike, looks it on paper)
    ??? ANIMAL-TESTING STATUS: unknown, have emailed company to check
  • Heiko SPF 40 (ZnO):
    UNWEARABLE Badgerlike; also, contains lavender oil. The Kids and non-kids versions are identical. There also used to be an SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2) and an SPF 15. Not seen for a while; brief internet searches suggest all these Heiko sunscreens have been discontinued (2013-05-27).
  • Image Skincare Image MD Reconstructive Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO?):
    N/T; may be RIP
  • Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO):
  • Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Invisible Zinc 4-Hour  Water Resistant Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    a.k.a. Ganehill / Megan Gale
  • Invisible Zinc Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30 (ZnO):
    tested: not very invisible, bizarre mix of greasy and dry; in pump dispenser
  • Invisible Zinc Face & Body Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T; this is the one in the (larger) tube, also in a mini clip-on tube
  • Invisible Zinc Tinted Daywear SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T; tinted version of the ESP one
  • Invisible Zinc UV Silk Shield Foundation Stick SPF 30 (ZnO):
  • Jason Earth’s Best Mineral-based SPF 30+ (ZnO + TiO2):
    UNWEARABLE, poor protection, and overly-scented (incl lavender)
  • Jason Mineral Natural Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    one of the most elegant, wearable, and just plain nice super-squeaky-green sunscreens I’ve used. As good as the best non-green ones.
  • Johnson & Johnson Baby Daily Face & Body Lotion SPF 40 (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40 (ZnO + TiO2):
    elegant but overpriced and siliconey; slight scent
  • Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: scent, citrus oils. Listing it as some high-zinc BB and CC creams like this could be a good option for light exposure, and for those with darker skin-tones; the JB stuff listed here all has 20% ZnO.
  • Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer (ZnO):
    N/T: known irritants (mainly, again, essential oils inc. citrus ones)
  • Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer (ZnO):
    N/T: scent, tint. Available in several tints. If you’re OK with the essential oils and other ingredients, a good tinted option
  • June Jacobs
    RIP, old all-physical sunscreen has been discontinued; and that aside, N/T as all JJ s/s also contain known irritants
  • Kabana Green Screen SPF 32 (ZnO):
    N/T  but looks like a decent option: see sunscreens update: 2013
  • Karen’s Botanicals Simple Sunblock Lotion SPF 30, Unscented (ZnO):
  • Key Sun White Zinke SPF 30+ (ZnO + TiO2):
    I’ve used an ancestor of this: thick pasty old-skool zinc oxide. Like baby butt paste. Great all over. Careful, as the other sunscreens from this brand are not all-physical.
  • Keys Solar Rx SPF 30 (ZnO):
    serious irritation
  • Kibio Body Lotion SPF 50+ (ZnO + TiO2):
    A Clarins spin-off company; superior if still scented sunscreens. This one is in a larger size than the Face one (next item), cheaper, and creamier texture. There’s also SPF 20 face & body lotions too.
  • Kibio Face Lotion SPF 50+ (ZnO + TiO2):
    Slightly scented, elegant fluid “veil” texture.
  • Kinesys Sunscreen Ointment with pure zinc oxide SPF 30 (ZnO):
    UNWEARABLE, applies like nappy-/diaper-rash cream, plus strong scent; note that the other Kinesys sunscreens are all part-chemical
  • Kiss My Face Kids Mineral SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    irritation, breakouts, and Badgerlike
  • Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: higher %age (clear) zinc than the kids’ one, looks decent on paper but failed Consumer Reports testing for label claims on sun protection
  • L’Occitane Angelica UV Shield SPF 40 (TiO2):
    N/T: looks like an overscented pepperminted version of the Immortelle one further down

  • L’Occitane Buriti do Pará SPF 30 Veil (TiO2):
    another pleasant siliconey veil; BUT irritation from fragrance + insufficient UVA protection; best of their short-lived Buriti sunscreen collection.
    Nb: company was fully cruelty-free at the time
  • L’Occitane Immortelle  Brightening UV Shield SPF 40 Veil (TiO2):
    another pleasant-feeling siliconey veil; BUT irritation from fragrance + insufficient UVA protection
  • Lavanila The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream (ZnO + TiO2):
    very average (old-fashioned), overpriced, over-scented; OK on hand for me, too greasy and cloggy for face
  • Lavera Babies & Children Neutral SPF 20 kids’ spray (ZnO + TiO2):
    their spf 20 (old 40) cream is too thick and greasy, though
  • Lise Watier Sun Smart Universal UV Shield SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    decent unscented siliconey primer
  • Lise Watier Sun Smart Universal UV Shield Tinted SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: tinted version of previous item
  • Little Twig  Extra Mild Unscented Sunscreen SPF 30+ (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, looked very good indeed on paper
  • Live Live & Organic Natural Sunscreen with MSM SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T (contains known irritants)
    very decent, may be too moist on some people, but goes off fast
  • Loving Naturals Clear Face SPF30+ (ZnO):
    lighter than the Body version; potentially great if you’re OK with the aloe vera
  • Loving Naturals Adorable Baby SPF30+ (ZnO):
    thicker and heavier than the Body version
  • Luzern La Défense SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: Z-cote, no silicones, no fragrance, looks nice. But pricey
  • Marie Véronique Kid Safe Screen SPF 25 (ZnO):
    N/T: reason = contains known irritants (ylang ylang oil); also, looks like it’s tinted
  • Marie Véronique Moisturizing Face Screen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T current incarnations; used an earlier incarnation: issues with tint, scent, and irritation.
    But: this is a favourite amongst the tinted sunscreens, and available in a range of tones. For lots of other people.
  • MD Moms Baby Silk Daily UV Shield SPF 30+ Moisturizing Lotion (ZnO + TiO2):
  • MDSolar Sciences Mineral Tinted Crème SPF 30 (ZnO):
    ??? ANIMAL-TESTING STATUS: unknown, have emailed company to check
  • Megan Gale → see Invisible Zinc
  • Mexitan Tropical Sands SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    also, their SPF 30 (but looks much inferior: the 50 has 22.5% ZnO, whereas the 30 only has 6)
    = same stuff as Dr Mercola
    = and also branded as Coral Safe
    N/T: never seen or used, but looks good on paper: Z-Cote & T-Lite (good), but (bad) also eucalyptus oil which is an irritant on my skin.
  • MyChelle Replenishing Sun Defense SPF 30 (ZnO):
    Tested, and liked: elegant feel on skin. Slightly apprehensive about the price and the sandalwood, but no immediate or short-term reactions. I applied this to the side of my neck and left it on for about 6 hours, which is time enough for that sort of rapid irritation. Clog-prones, maybe watch that red algae extract: but it is one of the exciting new UVA-protection-boosting extracts, so also a good thing.
  • MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T current version; old version = no use on me: tint. But that may be a great thing for anyone who’s darker than NW05, i.e. most of the human population. Also, pricy compared to my current stuff.
  • Natural Instinct Day Cream SPF 30 (ZnO):
  • Natural Instinct Micro-Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T; usually called “Mineral” sans “micro-” though that’s what it says on the label
  • Neutrogena, variously-named Sensitive (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: silicones
    2012 version failed Consumer Reports testing for label claims on sun protection
  • NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T (price, silicones, fragrance)
  • Obagi NuDerm Physical UVBlock SPF 32 (ZnO):
    N/T (reason: silly price for what it is)
  • Origins Silent Treatment SPF 15 (TiO2):
    one of the first of its kind? certainly my first veil, in the 1990s. Before I know about the need for full-spectrum protection, living in blissful ignorance with no zinc oxide… 

  • Osmosis Shade Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: looks great on paper
  • Paula’s Choice Pure Mineral Sunscreen SPF 15 (ZnO + TiO2):
    RIP: used years ago, was nice (especially once PB got around to adding some zinc to the formula), but there’s more protective out there
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 15 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: replacement for previous item; very siliconey and there’s more protective out there
  • Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Complexion Corrector (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    decent tinted loose powder sunscreen/foundation; various shades available; drying on me but good idea if oilier (there’s also an Oily Problem Skin oil-free version)
  • Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45 (ZnO + TiO2):
    like previous item (except just the one version)
  • Physicians Formula MineralWear Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Loose Powder SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, brush-on version, looks decent on paper
  • Physicians Formula MineralWear Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, looks decent on paper; there’s also a blusher and bronzer to match
  • Physicians Formula Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Balm Powder SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T, looks decent on paper
  • Physicians Formula Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Cream SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Poofy Organics Spernaturals Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: known cloggers (ex. cocoa butter) and irritants (ex. eucalyptus oil) for my face; otherwise looks decent on paper, and some good reports from other users online
    Beautiful simple formulation; lovely lightweight elegant delicious stuff, feels like silk on skin, like the finest siliconey veils but without the silicones. But: tricky to obtain, though. Prohibitive shipping costs to Canada.
    2014: reformulated, apparently.
  • Pratima Neem Vetiver Body Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    slightly cheaper body version of the above, more heavily scented. Tested out (many years ago), too scented for me.
  • Pur Vous Ultra Protect Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    ??? ANIMAL-TESTING STATUS: unknown, have emailed company to check
  • Purple Prairie Sun Stuff SPF 30 (ZnO):
    nice, moist, too moist and wrong oils for face on me; goes off fast; see separate reviews elsewhere on here
  • Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30+ (ZnO):
  • Replenix → see Topix
  • Rodan + Fields SOOTHE Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: looks good if siliconey on paper, but overpriced for what it is
  • Seventh Generation Wee Generation Baby Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: might be OK, might be cloggy, contains lavender oil
  • Shiseido Gentle Sun Protection Lotion SPF 33  (ZnO + TiO2):
    experimented; good for a week or so, then issues (irritated eyes, some buildup-irritation round the nose during the day). Lightweight, fragrance-free “veil”.
  • SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
  • SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical Fusion SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: untinted version of previous item
  • SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30 Cream (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Smart Girls Who Surf SPF 30+ Mineral Sunscreen (ZnO + TiO2):
    decent, Blue Lizard-like, but heavily orange-scented
  • Smart Kids Who Play SPF 35+ Mineral Sunscreen (ZnO + TiO2):
    similar to previous item (slightly thicker), different packaging for different target market; ditto Surf-Vival SPF 30+ Mineral Sunscreen
  • Solbar Shield SPF 40 (ZnO + TiO2):
    not used in many years, and not since becoming prone to skin unhappiness with many silicones 
  • Soleo SPF 30 (ZnO):
  • Sunbow Sunscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T; available in two versions, “Dora the Explorer” and “Spongebob Squarepants”; and in a spray lotion (mainly SBSP)
  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Baby, Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: best of their options, being unscented
  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body, Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T; same as previous item but with added scent
  • Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer, Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T, scented
  • Suntegrity “5 in 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: = tinted version (2 shades) of the previous item; scented
  • Supergoop SPF 35 Daily Correct CC Cream (ZnO + TiO2):
    in two tints, the lighter of which is too dark on me; this is the only all-physical of the Supergoop sunscreens; unscented, siliconey (nice finish, just YMMV as ever)
  • Surf-Vival → see Smart
  • Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
  • Thinkbaby / Thinksport / Thinksport Kids Sunscreen SPF 50+ (ZnO):
    N/T. Reason: known irritants  (pine resin) and cloggers. But they’ve removed the frankincense from the baby one (was in old SPF 30 version), which is a step in the right direction.
    Same formulae as TruBaby / TruKid.
  • Topix Glycolix Elite SPF 30 (ZnO):
    very matte, too dry on me
    spray (spray into hand before applying): lovely stuff, probably the best siliconey sunscreen I’ve used and the most elegant one; beware if zit-prone with the silicones, though
  • Topix Replenix Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream SPF 50+ (ZnO):
    N/T, contains known cloggers
  • TruBaby Everyday Play Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30+ (ZnO):
    N/T: formula looks likes next item, but sans pine-wood resin and plus citrus essential oils
  • TruKid Sunny Days Sport Water-Resistant Unscented Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30+ (ZnO):
    N/T: also in a scented (citrus) version. Same formula as Thinkbaby / Thinksport (yes, with that pine resin again too…)
  • UV Naturals SPF 30 (ZnO):
  • UV Triplegard Everyday Sunscreen Lotion Sensitive / Clear Zinc SPF 30+ (ZnO):
  • ***** VANICREAM SPF 60 (ZnO + TiO2) *****
    An indestructible tube is my regular one for high-humidity high-sweat activities, for more intense sun, and if being very irritable and allergicky. It’s a bit thicker and moister–nothing impossible–but a loyal solid workhorse to which I’ve been reciprocally loyal for years. My fail-proof treasure. Has worked on major eczema, has worked in the tropics. Used all over, including around the eyes.
    NOTE: old/discontinued; current version = SPF 50 (next item)
  • ***** VANICREAM SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2) *****
    [+ eye]
    New version of the old SPF 60. Similar ingredients, different form of micro-sheer-coated actives (Z-Cote and Ti-Silc), though as is usual with this brand they’re listed in alphabetical order, so it’s unclear how far proportions and formula have changed. Some users report greasiness, though I’ve not seen any systematic side-by-side comparisons. I like it and am using it currently (2014): see review
  • Vanicream SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    thicker and greasier than the SPF 60
  • Viva Sana Solar to Polar Baby SPF 42 / Ultra SPF 40 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: overpriced for what it is, insufficient ZnO, clogging ingredients, reports suggest Badgerlikeness
  • Wotnot 30+ SPF Sunscreen (ZnO):
    N/T, looks good on paper
  • Yes To Carrots Hydrating Body Lotion SPF 30 (ZnO):
    decent if a little thick and sticky; some scent
  • Yes To Cucumbers Daily Calming Moisturizer SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    nice, but scent; milder though than the Blueberries version


  • All Terrain AquaSport Face Stick SPF 28 (ZnO):
    N/T, looks OK and moisturizing but contains bergamot oil (phototoxic, perhaps unwise in a sun-protection product)
  • Ava Anderson Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: looks OK, Badgerlike
  • Aveda Lip Tints SPF 30 (TiO2):
    for a precious while, the most gorgeous (and tasty) then available option; but insufficient UVA protection
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face Stick with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2): 
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T, on paper looks rather like Elemental Herbs (which would make it a good bet)
  • Badger SPF 15 (ZnO):
    OK but whitening and a bit dry, but perfectly acceptable over a moisturising lipbalm and under lipstick
  • Badger Sport Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 35 (ZnO):
    good, liked; no added fragrance, tastes and smells deliciously cocoa-ish; widely available
  • ***** BURNOUT OCEAN TESTED LIP SPF 32 (ZnO) *****
    in coconut flavour (being the closest to no taste, and better than tasteless puerile bubblegummy flavours)
  • California Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 30+ (TiO2)
    fragrance-free version; insufficient UVA protection
  • CeraVe Sunscreen Stick, Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T: looks great on paper, and like it would be suitable for the eye-area too
  • CoTZ Lip SPF 45 (ZnO + TiO2):
    disliked: slightly gritty texture and weird offputting ginger taste. I like ginger. But not this.
    nice: tricky to apply, need to scrape a little off, melt between fingertips, then apply
  • Green Beaver SPF 15 Lip Balm (ZnO):
    nice, no added flavours
  • Hurraw SPF 15 Sun Protection Balm (ZnO):
    decent, but contains cold-pressed tangerine peel oil
  • Jane Iredale PureMoist LipColour SPF 18 (ZnO):
    not the untinted Lip Drink (ZnO, SPF 15) as it contains lemon oil (phototoxic potential + high risk of irritation): suggest instead the tinted lippies (also ZnO), slight vanilla flavour. Some of the more neutral to nude shades would be an option if looking untinted.
  • Lavanila The Healthy Lipscreen SPF 30 (ZnO):
    overpriced, over-scented, peppermint oil and menthol
  • Lavera SPF 15 (TiO2)
    insufficient UVA protection
  • Mustela Sun Cream for Sensitive Areas SPF 50 (ZnO, TiO2):
  • Poofy Organics Spernaturals Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 (ZnO):
    N/T: known irritants (ex. eucalyptus oil) on me; otherwise looks decent on paper
  • Purple Prairie Sun Stuff lip balm SPF 30 (ZnO):
    OK but whitening and a bit dry, but perfectly acceptable over a moisturising lipbalm and under lipstick; goes off fast.
  • Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30 (ZnO):
    OK but whitening and a bit dry, but perfectly acceptable over a moisturising lipbalm and under lipstick
  • Smart Girls Who Surf / Smart Kids Who Play SPF 30+ Organic Sunscreen Face Stick (ZnO + TiO2):
    nicely moist, unscented; company also has sunscreen lipbalms, but flavoured and only SPF 15.
  • Surf-Vival SPF 30+ Organic Sunscreen Face Stick (ZnO + TiO2):
    identical to previous
  • True Natural Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (ZnO + TiO2):
    N/T; looks decent on paper, but see comments on items below (tested out in MEC)
  • True Natural Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (ZnO + TiO2):
    tested: Badgerlike, thick & pasty, known clogging ingredients
  • True Natural Unscented Face & Sensitive Skin SPF 50 (ZnO):
    tested: slightly less heinous than previous item
  • TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30+ Stick (ZnO):
    N/T: citrus oils
  • UV Natural SPF 30 (ZnO):
    OK but whitening and a bit dry, but perfectly acceptable over a moisturising lipbalm and under lipstick
  • Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF 30 (TiO2):
    insufficient UVA protection; I’ve often wondered when they’re going to get round to reformulating this as something super-stellar…

There’s no such thing as too much protection, nor too much multi-tasking: here, some chocolate that won’t melt in the sun (found online, would love to find IRL)


[this part of this very looooooong post last updated August 2011]

In my experience a decent sunscreens has four elements:


Simple silicone base, so the sunscreen’s as light, fluid, and elegant as possible – thought the odd one comes out a bit thicker yet applies nice, smooth, and matte. I have (as do many other sensitive-skinned people, some with acne, some with rosacea) problems with cyclopentasiloxane and/or cyclomethicones–clogging and irritation. But my skin is as happy as larry with dimethicone.

  • Ex. Vanicream.

Same effect sometimes also *can* be obtained without silicones, usually in an oil base: though the all-singing all-dancing super-green sunscreens with oil bases tend, overwhelmingly, to be so greasy and horrible as to be diametrically opposed to “aesthetically pleasing.” Unwearable. A paper bag over the head would be more attractive and comfortable.

  • BurnOut USED TO BE is a rare example to the rule: their Eco-Sensitive just has capric/caprylic triglycerides for slip
  • Another rare bird: Pratima Neem Rose: mainly water for the base, neem oil no. 2.
  • Or using aloe vera gel as base: ex. Devita; but watch out if aloe’s one of your irritants.
  • John Masters Organics do a very nice sunscreen in a mixed oil/aloe base, that’s one of the most elegant sunscreens I’ve used, squeaky-green or otherwise.


Zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide particle size. Larger nano (within legal limits, etc.) or small-as-possible micro. Hence higher %age of actives, in a nice even layer, but without looking painted. The jury’s still out (well, the scientific one anyway) on nano ZnO, but most countries have regulations on particle size and coating/encapsulation. Here follow the main forms on the market currently, and the key ingredients to look for in the INCI list that will tell you what form of coated zinc is being used; useful as many sunscreens don’t indicate which proprietary form they’re using.

  • ZnO: ZinClear (DOW transparent micronized uncoated dispersion), in a lot of the Australian sunscreens.
    Ex. Invisible Zinc, also MyChelle.
    Ingredients to look for:
  • c12-15 alkyl benzoate + isostearic acid + polyhydroxystearic acid (= ZinClear IM 50AB)
  • caprylic/capric triglyceride + glyceryl isostearate + polyhydroxystearic acid (= ZinClear IM 50CCT; ECOCERT-approved, in quite a lot of “greener” products)
  • simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil + glyceryl isostearate + polyhydroxystearic acid (= ZinClear IM 50JJ; ECOCERT-approved, in quite a lot of “greener” products)
  • neopentyl glycol diheptanoate + glyceryl isostearate + polyhydroxystearic acid + cetyl PEG-PPG-10/1 dimethicone (=ZinClear IM 55L7)
  • ZnO: Z-cote (BASF encapsulated “invisible” zinc; full range protection 290-400 nm).
    Ex. of more readily-available and decently-priced ones: VanicreamCliniderm, (pricier) Fallene CoTZ.
    Ingredients to look for:

    • triethoxycaprylylsilane (= Z-Cote HP)
    • or dimethoxydiphenylsilane/triethoxycaprylylsilane crosspolymer (= Z-Cote Max)
  • ZnO: Dimethicone-coated micronized zinc:
    Ex. Blue Lizard (their parent company, Crown Labs., also uses trimethylated silica/dimethicone in their proprietary coating), Elta MD, Fallene, Solbar, Vanicream, Z-Silc Plus.
    Look for–surprisingly enough–

    • dimethicone. But: on sunscreens other than those mentioned above, watch out and if in doubt check with the manufacturers, as it’s difficult to disambiguate dimethicone used as a coating from dimethicone used as part of the base.
  • TiO₂: T-Lite (BASF; covers the 209-370 nm range, better coverage than Uvinul or other microfine TiO2):
    Ex. Clarins UV Plus, Elta MD, Fallene.
    Ingredients to look out for:

    • aluminum hydroxide + dimethicone/methicone copolymer
    • hydrated silica + aluminum hydroxide + dimethicone/methicone copolymer
    • dimethoxydiphenylsilane/triethoxycaprylylsilane crosspolymer + hydrated silica + aluminum hydroxide (this is T-Lite Max, their smallest grade)
  • TiO₂: Kobo has a good information sheet on dispersions


If you’re pale, this may not be an issue (and smaller particle size should help); but it is an issue for most skin-tones so I’m including it here, cos fair-skinned people can be fair-minded too.

  • Look for a tinted sunscreen. Tinted primers, tinted moisturizers, and BB creams with SPF too: currently (2013) more widely available. There’s usually no functional difference amongst these categories; just fashion, rhetoric, and/or marketeering (and price, which can go either way). Be pragmatic: if stuff says “SPF” on the label and gives some indication (wording may vary) that it’s tinted, there’s no harm in reading the ingredient-list, checking the actives and their percentages, and considering giving the stuff a try.
    • Ex. Andalou, BeccaCoTZ, Elta MDMarie VéroniqueMyChelleZO Skin 
  • Another option would be one of the powder sunscreens with a tint, if you’re worried about excess white; I don’t altogether trust them and I don’t like them: when I got a mini of one I spilled it everywhere, after trying to apply it and getting it all over my clothes too. Bear in mind that these are not as effective *as sunscreens*; but if that’s all your skin can handle, or if you’re looking to top-up your protection through the day, they’re a mighty fine idea. And certainly better than nothing.
    • Ex. BareMinerals, Colorescience, Jane Iredale, Peter Thomas Roth.


  • If you’ve found physical sunscreens to be too drying in the past, any I call too “greasy” might be worth looking at (generally, greasy = oily = due to lots of oils; not always, can be heavy use of dimethicone).
  • At least on lips and around eyes, I’d recommend applying a regular moisturising lipbalm or cream (eye-cream, a face one, whatever your usual might be) underneath first, and letting it sink in fully before sunscreening. And do use a lipbalm with sunscreen. And sunscreen around the eyes. This might mean a moister sunscreen than elsewhere on the face; in very dry weather, I’ve used unscented lip SPF around the eyes too.
  • If your skin is somewhere in the normal-to-drier range, I’d recommend applying a moisturiser underneath sunscreen. Unless using one of the heavier, greasier/oilier ones, in which case that might be fine as a stand-alone double-duty product. On face, anyway. Look for sunsceens calling themselves “cream” or (normal/less dry) “milk”, eventually some overlap with “fluid” and so on.
  • If your skin is in the normal-to-oilier range, it might be fine with just a sunscreen, or with usual moisturiser (especially if an oil-controlling one) and a very light-weight (especially ZnO-based and thus more drying) sunscreen on top. Look for sunscreens calling themselves “veil”, “emulsion”, “fluid”. “Powder” too.


Here on The Praise of Folly:

SkinCareTalk has a splendid list (and thread) of physical sunscreens.

As does the Kitchen Stewardship Blog:

Some more  great introductory / general posts:

Lots of posts on (but not tagged/categorised; either browse through the “skin” section, or use their custom Google search).

See also the following MUA notepads:

(click image for links to the classic song…)

Image at top: Wikipedia article on the sun


  1. Pingback: Devita Daily Solar Protective Moisturizer
  2. bomkinofthewoods

    Oh my, this was INCREDIBLY helpful, thank you for putting this together. It has everything I ever look for in searching for sunscreens (animal testing, wearability, protection, etc.)!

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