Leave No Trace: Sheer Sun Protection




When it comes to choosing sunscreen there are essentially two choices: mineral-based and chemical. By the names of the categories you can guess which one is better for your skin and the environment.

Mineral – aka natural sunscreens – are made with naturally occurring ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxides, recognized as “safe and effective” by the FDA. They sit on top of the skin like a protective barrier, as opposed to chemical sunscreens which are absorbed into skin. Chemical sunscreens often contain active ingredients shown to be toxic to the body and environment, and damaging to marine life and the coral reefs as well.

The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in mineral sunscreens provide broad spectrum sun protection from both UVA and UVB rays, but the problem has traditionally been the chalky white residue they leave on the skin. This summer’s new class of mineral sunscreens rub in fast and clear, with the addition of skin hydrating, nourishing, and anti-aging plant based oils and natural ingredients.

Running, surfing, cycling, swimming… your favorite outdoor sports require the strongest, waterproof and sweat-proof protection. From drugstore to sport to boutique brands, these are 15 are our favorite mineral based sunscreens:


TOP ROW: LE PRUNIER PLUMSCREEN BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 31. Plumscreen combines broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection with the skincare benefits of Le Prunier’s signature Plum Beauty Oil. This silky sheer, non-nano zinc oxide formula is blended with antioxidant-rich Plum Superfruit Complex that protects skin from pollution, blue light, and DNA-damaging free radicals. Plumscreen is Reef Safe, vegan, PETA certified, and free of parabens, sulfates, and other chemical ingredients.

VACATION MINERAL LOTION SPF 30 SUNSCREEN. This Reef Safe, non-nano, sheer mineral formula offers the broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection of zinc oxide, blended with naturally nourishing and luxurious ingredients like shea butter, cucumber, and vitamin E to soothe and hydrate skin.

GROWN ALCHEMIST NATURAL HYDRATING SUNSCREEN SPF 30. This invisible, lightweight, vegan formula rubs in effortlessly with an innovative ultra-sheer Zinc Oxide. 100% natural and Reef Safe, it’s blended with antioxidant-rich plant oils for regenerative, nourishing, brightening, and anti-aging skin benefits.

EARTHS KITCHEN MORINGA & HARAKEKE SPF 50. This New Zealand blend of powerful plants and natural ingredients kawakawa oil, coconut oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, rose hip seed oil, manuka honey and more savory ingredients block the sun’s rays while offering anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-aging protection.

DRUNK ELEPHANT UMBRA SHEER PHYSICAL DAILY DEFENSE SPF 30. Packed with 20% zinc oxide, sunflower and algae extract, and raspberry seed oil, Drunk Elephant’s nourishing mineral sunscreen has all you need to protect skin from broad-spectrum rays and free radical damage. This sheer lightweight formula blends into skin without feeling greasy.

MIDDLE ROW: ZEALIOS SPORT PERFORMANCE SUN BARRIER REEF-SAFE SPF 50 SUNSCREEN. Formulated for endurance athletes, Zealios is a water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen made for the most demanding conditions. Its powerful zinc oxide protection goes on smooth and dries clear. It has a water resistance rating of 80 minutes, and won’t run into your eyes, no matter how much you sweat.

SALT & STONE NATURAL MINERAL SUNSCREEN LOTION SPF 50. An all natural, fragrance-free SPF 50 lotion formulated to be water and sweat resistant. This non-greasy, reef safe formula sinks into the skin effortlessly with no white residue. Rosehip Seed soothes and moisturizes, while Non-Nano Zinc Oxide blocks UVA + UVB rays.

SUPERGOOP MINERAL SHEERSCREEN SPF 30. This 100% sheer mineral sunscreen features breakthrough SheerMatrix Technology for a formula that instantly blends into skin with a natural, smooth finish. Add the benefits of anti-aging bush clover extract to protect against free radical damage and blue light, and super hydrating aloe leaf juice that moisturizes and smooths skin.

SUNSHADY NATURAL MINERAL SUNSCREEN SPF 30. Keep your skin youthful and radiant with a reef-safe, 100% mineral, vegan sunscreen that goes beyond basic sun protection to block blue light and environmental pollutants too. Made with moisturizing ingredients like jojoba seed and squalane, Sunshady hydrates and nourishes skin, and can even double as a facial moisturizer.

ELEVEN BY VENUS WILLIAMS UNRIVALED SUN SERUM SPF 35. This lightweight serum combines sun protection with silky hydration in a quick-absorbing, sheer formula that leaves skin with a smooth and velvety finish. Clean, vegan, and Reef Safe, nutrient-rich ingredients include coconut fruit extract packed with amino acids; skin calming Allantoin from the comfrey plant; and lightweight, moisturizing shea butter. Anti-inflammatory vanilla fruit extract; skin, nourishing Ginger Lily extract; and vitamin C rich Mandarin create bright citrus aroma.

BOTTOM ROW: BABO BOTANICALS SHEER MINERAL SUNSCREEN LOTION SPF 50. An extra sensitive sunscreen with 100% mineral active zinc oxide, Babo’s gently formulated, fragrance free broad spectrum sunscreen provides 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance. This lightweight, non-greasy and hypoallergenic formula is enriched with Calendula, Shea Butter, and organic Cocoa Butter to soothe and moisturize the skin.

UTU BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 30. Formulated to protect, nourish, and rejuvenate, Utu moisturizing sunscreen is made with Hyaluronic acid, squalane, and sea buckthorn for advanced hydration, and asataxanthan and aloe to soothe and brighten all skin.

BIOSSANCE SQUALANE + ZINC SHEER MINERAL SPF 30 SUNSCREEN. Lightweight and deeply hydrating, this sheer mineral sunscreen blends in fast into all skin tones with a soft, dewy finish. Non-toxic, Reef Safe, and made for the most sensitive skin, other ingredients include powerful squaline from sugarcane that mimics the body’s natural hydrating oils, and water lily that calms and cools sun-stressed skin.

WE ARE FEEL GOOD SUNSCREEN SPF 50. Coconut, Kanudu Plum, Wild Rosela… these are just a few of the fragrant sunscreen blends from Australian skincare brand We Are Feel Good. All are gentle, nourishing and non-greasy, with up to 4 hours water resistance for maximum protection.

CLARK’S BOTANICALS INVISIBLE HERO SPF 30 ANTI-AGING SUNSCREEN + HYALURONIC ACID. This broad spectrum, anti-aging, 100% mineral sunscreen blended with hyaluronic acid and marine algae to hydrate, plump, and rejuvenate skin; grape leaf, sunflower, and arnica extracts to defend skin against pollution; and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to minimize appearance of pores.