Everything you need to know before buying a natural sunscreen

Everything you need to know before buying a natural sunscreen min

We all know that a natural sunscreen helps prevent sunburns, skin damage, and skin cancer, but it can feel like you need a chemistry degree just to suss out which product to choose. What is natural sunscreen? What’s the difference between natural and conventional sunscreen? And how do you know if the sunscreen you’ve selected is safe and doing its job of preventing sun damage? We’ve got you covered.

What Is A Natural Sunscreen?

Natural sunscreen is also known as mineral or physical sunscreen. It uses zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or a combination of the two to block and reflect the sun’s harmful rays away from your skin.

You already know that sunscreen is a must in your skincare routine, and not just to prevent sunburn or the best sunscreen for pale skin that burns easily. Regular sunscreen use will help stave off premature aging, dark spots, uneven skin tone, and even skin cancer.

What Is A Natural Sunscreen
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You have more choices now than ever before, especially in the natural sunscreen realm. “Natural” sunscreens are those that are mineral-based and non-toxic. But all those choices can be incredibly overwhelming. So we’re breaking it all down for you here to help you make the best natural sunscreen choice for you and your family.

Why Choose a Natural Sunscreen?

Everyone who chooses to go with a natural sunscreen does so for their reasons. Most people choose natural sunscreens because they’re looking to reduce the number of chemicals exposed to daily and as a natural sunscreen for the face. However, some people don’t trust chemical ingredients and don’t want to put them on their skin.

natural sunscreen
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What Makes Sunscreen Natural?

If these minerals make up the active ingredients in your sunscreen, it’s “natural.” However, if it contains synthetic active ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, or avobenzone, it’s not a natural sunscreen but a chemical sunscreen.

But don’t let the term natural trick you into thinking you’re getting a 100% natural product. Remember, the “natural” in your natural sunscreen only refers to the active ingredients. The rest of the ingredients in natural sunscreen can be completely synthetic.

Natural Sunscreens Work Differently

Natural sunscreens work differently than chemical sunscreens. Synthetic sunscreen ingredients absorb UV rays as the best organic sunscreen; Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, on the other hand, are physical sunscreens or the best sunscreen body. They don’t absorb UV rays; they block them. It’s like having little “shields” over your skin, protecting you from sun exposure.

Natural Sunscreens Work Differently
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There’s some indication that using physical sunscreens or the best sunscreen lotion long-term gives you better protection against photoaging because, unlike synthetic sunscreens, there is no chemical reaction occurring on your skin.

Checklist for Choosing a Natural Sunscreen

Choosing a Natural Sunscreen
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Now you’ve got a fairly good working knowledge about natural sunscreens and how they work. Are you ready to choose the right product for you? This checklist will help you out:

Look at the active ingredients

You’re specifically looking for zinc oxide, either alone or with titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide gives broad-spectrum SPF so that it will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide is most effective against UVB only, so it won’t protect you across the full spectrum and shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone active ingredient. But it can help boost the effectiveness of zinc oxide.

Choose an SPF of 30 or higher.

You’ll want your SPF to be at least a 30. This ensures you get enough protection for a reasonable period. SPF can go up to 50+, but once you get over SPF 30, the increase in sun protection you get is incremental.

SPF of 30
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Know Your Sunscreen’s Key Ingredients

A quick look through the ingredients list can help ensure you have the quality and coverage you need. You’ll want to ensure you have both UVA and UVB protection, so look for the term “broad spectrum” in the label. Mineral sunscreen works by using natural minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to reflect the sun’s rays from your skin. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens use chemical compounds like bemotrizinol, avobenzone, and biscotizole—all of which provide broad-spectrum protection.

Sunscreens Key Ingredients
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Take A Look At Other Ingredients

Take a look at the other ingredients if you’re looking for all-natural. Unfortunately, there is no set standard for what constitutes “natural” for either cosmetics (like skincare products and makeup) or over-the-counter drugs (like acne products and sunscreen). So, if you’re looking for a more realistic option as chemical-free sunscreen for skin (and any skincare product for that matter), you’ll have to do a little investigating. Just because a sunscreen has natural active ingredients does not make the sunscreen 100% natural. 

Consider Your Skin Type

Many sunscreens are made to help dry, oily, or sensitive skin specifically. People with dry skin should look for ingredients like glycerin, lanolin, oils, silicones, and aloe vera as a natural sunscreen and avoid sunscreen spray or gels with alcohol. Lightweight or gel lotions with ingredients like silica or isododecane are best for oily skin. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free are good bets for sensitive skin, as are mineral sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Alcohol and preservatives should also be avoided.

Consider Your Skin Type
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Know-How to Build Sunscreen Into Your Makeup Routine

A great way to stick to a healthy sunscreen habit is to build it into your morning routine. There are plenty of foundations with SPF, but according to makeup artists, we should always apply sunscreen under your makeup—either with a protective moisturizer or after your moisturizer. First, let the sunscreen soak in and use a tissue for any leftover residue. Then, before applying any makeup, wash the sunscreen off your hands.

Pick a Sunscreen You Enjoy Wearing

Choose a sunscreen that you like to wear because it increases your chances of actually using it to protect your skin. Having a sunscreen that checks all the boxes but is unpleasant to wear isn’t worth it. On the other hand, some sunscreens may have some nice perks that could make you excited about reapplying. Sometimes, that might make all the difference.

And Remember, You Can Go Beyond Sunscreen to Protect Your Skin. No sunscreen protects you from 100% of the sun’s rays, so it’s important to plan your clothing, hats, and other barriers carefully.  Remember that the sun may feel great on your skin when you first go out but carries risks beyond the occasional sunburn. Stay protected, use nontoxic sunscreen, and you’ll thank yourself later!

A Word From Verywell

There is a lot of information regarding sun protection and sunscreen, both natural and not-so-natural. It can be a confusing subject simply because there is so much conflicting information and many product options.

Remember, though, that the best sunscreen product for you is one you like and that feels good on your skin because that is a product you’ll use. And it’s that consistent use of your sunscreen that’s going to give you the best protection.

If you still need help choosing a product, ask your physician or dermatologist for recommendations.

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