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7 Natural Sunscreens That Feel Great on Sensitive Skin

Suit your skin up for summer.
 
 
By Tiffany Dodson, Self

If you're looking for a natural sunscreen to protect your precious skin on summer beach days, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed by all the products on store shelves—and underwhelmed by the products themselves. Before you spend another dollar on a bottle of sunscreen you hate, here are some things to consider, and some options to try.

[post_ads]First of all, what does "natural sunscreen" mean? It's actually not that obvious. When you hear someone talk about a natural sunscreen, there's a good chance they're talking about mineral (aka physical) sunscreen, which is one of the two main types. The other is chemical sunscreen, and they work differently.

Physical sunscreens use ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are minerals mined from the earth (hence the "natural" nomenclature). They work by creating a physical barrier on your skin that blocks UV rays from the sun. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, and homosalate to absorb UV rays once they hit your skin. Both types get the job done—as long as you're wearing at least SPF 30—but each has its plusses and minuses.

Chemical sunscreens need 15 to 20 minutes to start working, so you need to apply them before you leave the house, and they break down and wash off if you're sweating or swimming, so you need to reapply every two hours or whenever you get wet. Chemical sunscreens can also be more irritating to people with sensitive skin. Some people are freaked out by the idea of using chemicals altogether, even though the American Academy of Dermatology says that chemical sunscreens are perfectly safe and that any concerns about potential harmful effects are unproven in the research and outweighed by the proven ability of sunscreen to decrease the risk for skin cancer.

Because zinc oxide and titanium dioxide aren't absorbed into the skin, mineral sunscreens tend to be less irritating to sensitive skin, which is why they're often used in baby formulations. And since they don’t absorb UV radiation, they don’t break down in the sun the way chemical sunscreens do, but it is still important to reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re swimming. For most people, the biggest issue with mineral sunscreens is the color. Mineral sunscreens can be white and chalky, and leave the skin looking ashy or pasty. But today, many sunscreen producers use micro or nanoparticles in order to formulate lotions that go on clear (or at least clearer).

If you are very particular about your skin-care ingredients—like if you are allergic to a lot, or are interested in exactly how ingredients are sourced—it's worth noting that some sunscreens combine mineral sun-protective ingredients with chemical ones, or with synthetic fragrances or preservatives, so just because it's mineral doesn't mean it's necessarily 100 percent "natural" (or organic, or hypoallergenic, or whatever it is that you need for your skin).
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We tried several mineral sunscreens that are safe even for sensitive skin and promise to go on ash-free—read on for our recommendations.

 
1
Supergoop!Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen with Olive Polyphenols SPF 40, $28
Supergoop! is a great option if you're going to be outdoors for long periods of time. This formula blends in seamlessly under makeup without leaving a bluish-white cast.
 
 
2
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $12
This nongreasy sunscreen contains 100 percent zinc oxide, not to mention is hypoallergenic and water resistant for up to 80 minutes without having to reapply.
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3
Goddess Garden Sport Natural Sunscreen, $13
This powerful broad-spectrum sunscreen was designed with the outdoors in mind. It combines zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to keep it in place, even while you sweat. It’s also reef-safe and biodegradable.
 
 
4
Mad Hippie Facial SPF, $25
This facial sunscreen is completely chemical-free, and it combines zinc oxide with antioxidant-rich oils like red raspberry seed and avocado. When we tested on our dark skin, we got a little chalkiness, but it's great for fair to medium skin tones.
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5
Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50, $10
This sunscreen is not only baby-approved, but also great for people who have sensitive skin. As a bonus, this hypoallergenic formula is also tear-free.
 
 
6
Promise Organic Baby SPF 30 Sunscreen Baby Lotion, $13 
A winning combination of zinc oxide, shea butter, and essential oils, this sunscreen works for both face and body.
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7
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, $36
This formula is made with 20 percent zinc oxide to defend against sun damage, and the light tint helps it blend seamlessly under makeup—or you can wear it solo like a BB cream.
 
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Women's Magazine: 7 Natural Sunscreens That Feel Great on Sensitive Skin
7 Natural Sunscreens That Feel Great on Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin and chemical sunscreen irritates you, try some of these natural sunscreens—aka mineral sunscreens—that won't leave an ashy residue.
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