Best natural sunscreen: mineral and reef-friendly lotions

Ellie Davis
·8-min read

In a report by The World Health Organisation, it was revealed that “up to 90 per cent of the visible changes commonly attributed to ageing may be caused by sun exposure.”

To combat signs of ageing as well as protect against skin cancer, the importance of sunscreen cannot be overlooked as the sunny weather approaches.

Yet, the parabens, silicones and synthetic fragrances contained in traditional sunscreens can actually have a damaging effect rather than protective – for both your skin and the environment.

Hawaii have recently passed a law banning the selling of certain chemical sunscreens that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, which have been found in high concentrations at coral reefs - and they’re not the only ones. Palau and Mexico have followed suit.

These chemicals destroy the algae that lives on coral thereby harming the marine environment of the reefs and the surrounding wildlife.

More and more people are looking to natural and organic sunscreens to counter these damaging side effects, not just for our own skin but for our oceans as well.

Sun lotion falls into two major categories; chemical and mineral. Natural SPFs may also be known as mineral sunscreens. These formulas contain active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They act as a physical barrier to deflect and shield against UVA and UVB rays where as chemical formulas absorb the rays. This ensures that they wont irritate the skin and makes them a better choice for those with sensitivities or irritations. The formulas are packed with antioxidants like vitamin E to give an extra defence against free radicals and environmental stressors that can cause premature skin ageing.

So whether you're a sun worshippers or a shade chasers, you can enjoy sun-soaked days with our selection of the best natural, organic and ocean-friendly alternatives for you and your family.

Pai British Summer Time Zinc & Cotton Extract SPF 30

Seven years in the making and well worth the wait, Pai’s suncream is the broad spectrum protect that you need. It’s packed with skin boosting benefits and the formula is not greasy, leaves a slightly matte finish and is so lightweight that it can be worn under makeup with ease.

It is reef-friendly - comprised of zinc oxide that provides a shield from blue light and infra-red too.

Wear rain or shine to protect against premature skin ageing without drying or causing breakouts. It can be worn on sensitive skin and for daily use. The sun lotion also has a lovely scent.

Pai
Pai

£39 | Pai

REN Clean Skincare Clean Screen Mineral Sun Cream SPF 30

It comes as no surprise that clean skincare label Ren has a sun protection product that is free from any harsh or unwelcome ingredients.

The broad spectrum SPF 30 protects against UVA, UVB rays and blue light with a mattifying effect.

Kind to your skin and the planet, it is crafted from recycled packaging (50 per cent for the tube and 100 per cent for the cap). It’s also vegan, cruelty and silicone-free.

Ren Clean Skincare
Ren Clean Skincare

£32 | John Lewis

Dead Sea Spa Magik Sunsafe

This natural sunscreen contains Dead Sea minerals to both hydrate and protect skin as well as Aloe Vera to cool and soothe potential irritation - it also has a lovely, natural scent. The hypoallergenic formula is water resistant, vegan and and contains broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection at SPF 50. With no pore-clogging side effects, this sunscreen is gentle on the face and provided good protection without a greasy sheen.

Dead Sea Spa
Dead Sea Spa

£20.02 | Amazon

Ultrasun Body Mineral Sunscreen SPF50

For sun protection that packs a powerful punch without feeling laborious or heavy on the skin, Ultrasun has got you covered. The brand is all about education on the effects of harmful rays on the skin so SPF 50 is a given and there’s a high UVA filter of over 95 per cent.

The formula is hard working and high tech - made entirely from mineral filters like organic sunflower shoots and antioxidants from the likes of the Tara tree. It will also protect against blue light.

You can also shop the brand’s formula for face (£26).

Ultrasun
Ultrasun

£28 | Holland & Barrett

SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF50

Beloved by beauty editors and dermatologists alike, SkinCeuticals use scientific-backed formulas to create products that just work.

This mineral sunscreen protection provides an excellent shield from UV rays, while also evening out skin tone and not causing flakiness, dryness or blemishes. The non-irritating formula can even be used on sensitive skin and those suffering from rosacea.

It provides excellent cover and leaves you with a radiant complexion - what more can you ask for?

SkinCeuticals
SkinCeuticals

£37 | lookfantastic

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defence SPF 30

If you’ve not yet heard of Drunk Elephant - have you been living under a rock?

The no-nasties skincare label craft efficacious formulas free from the ‘Suspicious Six’ as the brand refers to them (drying alcohol, silicones, SLS, chemical screens, essential oils or fragrance/dyes). The same is true for the sunscreens and so, they are reef-safe and non-toxic to marine life.

That being said, the product still delivers strong protection against the sun rays, while treating your skin to the benefits of antioxidants, raspberry seed and marula oils to nourish skin with moisture at the same time.

It can be used on a daily basis and under makeup as the product doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue or unpleasant texture.

Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephant

£29 | Drunk Elephant

CeraVe Facial Lotion with Suncream

As with all CeraVe products, the creams are developed alongside dermatologists, benefiting from their expertise. While the 70-product wide range provides sunscreens ranging from SPF 30 to 50, our favourite has to be the daily Facial Moisturizing Lotion for an easy way to incorporate SPF into your daily beauty routine.

The lightweight and fast absorbing formula provides a natural barrier against UVA rays and can be worn easily under make up. With the well-publicised ageing effects of sun exposure, this sunscreen will ensure your skin’s natural barrier is repaired, restored and maintained.

£13 | Boots

Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion

Renowned for their certified organic award-winning skin and body products, Green People know a thing or two about natural skincare. The label’s sun lotion protects against both UVA and UVB rays with its natural and 78% certified organic formula that contains Vitamins A, C and E, alongside Green tea, olive, avocado and rosemary extract that support skin’s immune systems and prevent against premature ageing.

Free from silicones, emulsifiers or artificial fragrances, the cream is designed for those with sensitive skin. With no added fragrance, it is also non-greasy, water repellent and easy to spread. What’s more, 10% of the label’s net profit is donated to charity.

Supporting your skin’s immune and protecting against cell damage, the sun cream is available in SPF 15 and 30.

Green People
Green People

£25 | Green People

Odylique Natural Sun Screen

Don’t be alarmed by the pale green colouring of this natural sun cream, this is due to the fact that it has no artificial UV filters, preservatives, fragrance or colouring. The PETA-approved formula is also the first ever sunscreen that is both approved by the Fairtrade Foundation and organically certified.

It contains nine organic botanicals such as karanja seed and Fairtrade raw shea butter to replenish and soothe skin and protect against ageing. Designed for both your face and body, it also includes extracts of calming chamomile, rosemary and sea buckthorn (which is rich in omega 7) to calm the skin and counteract the damaging effects of the sun.

The silicone-free cream is SPF 30.

£25 | Odylique

Incognito Skin

Winning the Queen's Award for Sustainable Development, Incognito Skin is a summer essential. For a natural sunscreen and insect repellent in one knockout formula, look no further than Incognito. Ideal for travelling, this cream will become your new best friend to protect against the sun as well as mosquito bites.

Paraben & SLS free, it contains only natural and organic ingredients such as aloe, geranium and edelweiss, making it suitable for vegans. The citrus-scented fragrance is made in the UK and once shaken creates an easily spreadable texture. The packaging is also made for renewable sugarcane and 10% of profits go to charity.

£22.99 | Amazon

Kypris Suncreen

Cleverly titled ‘Pot of Shade’, this mineral-based formula has a dual function. As well as protecting your skin against UVA and UVB rays, the cream can also be worn under your make up as a primer due to the velvety, translucent finish. The cream contains Sweet Iris Stem Cells and Sunflowers, which are rich in fatty acid for a plumping and luminous effect as well as organic, co-op grown Tamanu seed oil for a radiant glow.

Void of artificial scents - this stellar natural sunscreen gave our skin a protective hydration boost while protecting from sun damage with SPF 30.

£87 | Net-A-Porter

Verdict

Offering high protection at SPF 50, the Dead Sea Cosmetics sun cream contains natural minerals and is ideal for sensitive skin. Protection for the whole family in one handy bottle, this sunscreen has a pleasant smell and could easily become your summer go-to.