Your Guide to Choosing Non-Toxic Mineral Sunscreen (That Works!)

Non-Toxic Sunscreen Guide

We all have been told that you need to wear sunscreen in order to prevent skin cancer. That’s a no-brainer. But did you know that most conventional sunscreens actually contain really harmful ingredients that are linked to cancer? How ironic! But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered (like that pun?) when it comes to SPF, ingredients to avoid, and safe sunscreens to use! ☀

First of all, ALWAYS read the ingredient labels. The front of the sunscreen might say “natural” or “gentle” but definitely make sure you read the actual ingredients. Sunscreen has both active and inactive ingredients, so let’s take a look at those individually.

SPF Active Ingredients to Avoid

    • Benzophenone
    • Homosalate
    • Octinoxate/Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate
    • Oxybenzone
    • Padimate O
    • Para-aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)

These are all active ingredients that are approved by the FDA, but they have major toxicity concerns. These ingredients:

  • Are able to penetrate your skin and leach into your bloodstream and tissues. Not good!
  • Disrupt your hormones and can mimic estrogen
  • Affect your reproductive and thyroid systems
  • Can cause skin allergies or irritation if inhaled

Check out Environmental Working Group for more info.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Sunscreen Red List
Image from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

SPF Inactive Ingredients to Avoid

The following are inactive ingredients that are common in conventional sunscreens. I would suggest avoiding these because of their connections with hormone disruption, toxicity, carcinogenic properties, and cancer:

  • Fragrance
  • Butane or propane
  • Parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben…etc.)
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Polyethylene
  • PEGs (polyethylene glycol)
  • Chlorphenesin
  • Retinyl Palmitate speeds up the development of skin tumors and lesions
  • Styrene Acrylates Copolymer

And if you see some questionable ingredients that aren’t on this list, you can always look up the product on the Think Dirty app to learn more about them! Also, a recent study tested 294 sunscreens and found that 78 of them contained benzene, an industrial chemical that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines as carcinogenic. Yikes!

Related podcast episode: Natural Sunscreens + Safe Sun Exposure

This blog post contains affiliate links.

Safe Mineral Sunscreens I Recommend

To avoid the active ingredients from above and to still make sunscreen effective, most natural sunscreens use non-nano zinc oxide as their active ingredient. Non-nano means that the particles are not small enough to be absorbed into your skin or bloodstream, and therefore some natural sunscreens do make you look a little more “pasty” than conventional sunscreens. Zinc oxide also is available micronized which means it will blend in like conventional sunscreens, but still will not enter your bloodstream because of the nature of zinc oxide. However, when micronized zinc oxide is inhaled, it can be dangerous, so avoid aerosol (spray) sunscreens with it!

Here are some non-toxic sunscreens that I love:

Raw Elements Sunscreens
Raw Elements SPF Tinted Moisturizer

Raw Elements products are suuuuper clean! They are rated #1 sunscreen by Environmental Working Group, are biodegradable, reef safe, and are Leaping Bunny Certified.

The sunscreen pictured here is [$18] and made with 23% non-nano zinc oxide. Its inactive ingredients are {Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Green Tea, Organic Black Tea, Organic Coffee, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, All Natural Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, All Natural Rosemary Oil Extract, All Natural Vitamin E}. Very clean!

Raw Elements also has lip balms, SPF sticks, and tinted SPF facial moisturizers. You can get 10% off all of their products with the code ORGANICALLYBECCA at checkout from The Choosy Chick 💰 (also available on Amazon)

Shop Raw Elements Here


Laguna Herbals SPF

Laguna Herbals products are very clean as well! I really like their sunscreen tin which is [$13]. It’s not greasy and works really great on your face under foundation! It’s made with {Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, Certified Organic Coconut Oil, Certified Organic Beeswax, Certified Organic Calendula, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Non-GMO Tocopherol (Vitamin E)}. They also have a stick option which is a thick, slightly chunky, paste. It has a learning curve but it does blend in!

Laguna Herbals also makes SPF sticks and lip balms. Check out my separate blog post review of using these SPFs. Also available on Amazon.

Shop Laguna Herbals Here


Meow Meow Tweet Everyday SunscreenI love Meow Meow Tweet’s sustainable aluminum packaging! This formula is super great; I mostly use it on my body but you can wear it on your face too. It’s blendable, lightweight, and doesn’t have a strong scent (gentle floral smell).

Shop Meow Meow Tweet Here


Thinksport SPF50 Mineral SunscreenA great budget-friendly options and I love that it’s a higher coverage. This is one I use for a beach day, hiking, or a long day in the sun. They also make baby formulas and tinted facial sunscreens. This one comes out as a thick white lotion and does blend in pretty easily. It smells really pleasant too, like currant and berry.

Shop Thinksport Here


100% Pure Yerba Mate SPFI recommend avoiding aerosol sunscreens because of the flammable ingredients, inhalation risks, and ecotoxicology (bad for the environment!). But if you prefer using a spray, I would recommend this one by 100% Pure.

Shop 100% Pure Mist Here

Organic Foundations & Moisturizers with SPF

Or if you’re looking for a daily facial moisturizer that has SPF in it, here are some I recommend:

And check out this blog post for my top recommendations for tinted moisturizers and foundations with SPF!

8 Best Tinted Mineral Sunscreens & Moisturizers to Protect Your Pretty Face

Organic Sunless Self Tanners

Pale skin need a little pick-me-up? I hear ya. Here are some of my faves that are also organic:

And don’t forget, the sun isn’t our enemy. Our bodies need that beneficial vitamin D. But if you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, especially during midday, put on that natural sunscreen, wear a hat, or find some relief in the shade! 😎

And if you do end up getting a little burnt, check out this aloe vera gel.

Thanks for reading!

Becca Signature


The best non-toxic sunscreens

Written by: Becca

Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having seen firsthand the benefits of switching to a natural lifestyle herself, she's passionate about helping women make the switch to clean beauty products, organic skincare, and a holistic way of life (without the stress of being perfect about it!).

11 comments on “Your Guide to Choosing Non-Toxic Mineral Sunscreen (That Works!)”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It was very informative. The husband and I have been slowly getting into safer more natural solutions for our family. This is just in time for the summer! I didn’t even think about sunscreen and this is key!

  2. We’re so glad that you mentioned synthetic sunscreens.. Honestly, being aware of the dangers can literally mean life or death! We developed our Teva SPF30+ SunProtect because my 8 y/o son nearly died from an anaphylactic allergic reaction to the cinnamates in the ‘baby’ well known drugstore sunscreen (100 SPF!!) put on him by a camp counselor. His throat swelled to 3 times normal size, and he developed hives the size of golf balls all over his body. Absolutely terrifying! . Keep doing what you do and spread the word—Love your blog!

  3. Thank you so much for this post! Can you tell me what nano-zinc actually is? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that (so many things to watch out for). 🙁

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.