Historically, opting for mineral sunscreen meant you were stuck with a white, opaque formula that felt more like face paint than skincare. But today, thanks to new technologies, advanced ingredients, and more inclusive thinking, mineral SPFs are radiant, absorbent, and down-right flattering, too.
Mineral sunscreen sits on top of your skin to reflect UV rays, physically preventing them from damaging your skin. Unlike chemical SPF, which has smaller molecules that easily penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays, mineral SPF has larger molecules that make it thicker, harder to spread, and potentially drying.
Kripa Coastline, a clean cosmetic chemist, explains that in the past, mineral sunscreens were difficult to make because the only two mineral UV filters are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—which are white, opaque powders in their raw form. And since they are neither oil nor water soluble, mixing them into a creamy texture can be difficult.
“Imagine trying to mix sand in a bucket of water—it’s very difficult to get a uniform mixture because sand never dissolves in water like salt does,” she says. “However, if you mix that sand well enough that it still won’t melt, you can get more of a mixture.”
In terms of formulation challenges, Koestline notes that it’s also difficult to balance the particle distribution to achieve an attractive texture that doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin. “Titanium dioxide reflects light, so on darker skin tones like mine, it can make skin look dull, dull and unnatural,” she says.
Nowadays, it’s easy to find fine zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with nano and micronized particles, so brands have been able to use these ingredients to create more elegant formulas. Below, you can with our favorite new mineral sunscreen formulas that both skin- and User-friendly, no white cast found.
Tower 28 – $30.00
Tower 28 founder Amy Liu suffered from sensitive, eczema-prone skin and knew how challenging it can be to find a mineral SPF that provides worry-free protection and coverage.
“People with problem skin need SPF protection even more because UV damage can cause hyperpigmentation and blemishes, so we decided to create SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen as the first and only tinted sunscreen foundation to receive National Eczema Association approval. didn’t exist in the market,” says Liu.
Taos Air – $38.00
Taos Aer co-founders, Sarah McNamara and Rochelle Jacobs developed Clean SPF packed with a patented anti-pollution blend of six antioxidants to protect against environmental aggressors while providing a radiant finish on all skin tones. “The challenge with most mineral SPFs is any possible white cast,” says McNamar. “We use a universal fading tint that blends easily on most skin tones.
Summer Fridays – $36.00
When crafting Summer Friday’s new lightweight shade drops, head of product development Jessica Abrams says it was important to use raw materials in new ways. To achieve a unique, sheer texture, formulators took oil-soluble ingredients, such as squalane and shea butter, and engineered them to become water-soluble.
“This allowed us to skip those thickeners and emulsifiers that make SPFs goopy,” she says. “Furthermore, the zinc oxide particles are coated with a powerful antioxidant called ethyl ferulate that not only increases skin permeability, but adds protection against harmful free radicals.” Blair Badge, the brand’s marketing director, adds that the serum-like texture was tested on several skin tones until they found the right texture, blendability and finish.
Kinfield – $24.00
Kinfield founder Nicole Powell admits that SPF is the most challenging category to produce because of the range of ingredient qualities. So when it came to developing the brand’s cloud cover, intensive testing was key.
“We went through several R&D teams to find our current partners, and tested countless versions of zinc and other ingredients to find the right non-nano zinc and hydrating ingredients that felt light on the skin while performing and offering a broad spectrum. We needed spectrum protection,” she says. . “We also added super moisturizing skin care ingredients not often found in suncare, like aloe, glycerin and sea kelp, to suit a wider range of skin tones.”
Zitsticka – $40.00
ZitSticka co-founder Daniel Kaplan says sunscreen has a reputation for clogging pores and causing break-outs, and the brand wants to develop a product that supports acne-prone skin.
“While most sunscreens serve a single purpose—protection from the sun’s harmful rays—MegaShade is also a non-comedogenic serum that fights active acne with tea tree, niacinamide and colloidal oatmeal to soothe stressed skin, vitamin C to brighten, and plumps and hydrates. with hyaluronic acid,” he says. “It’s a multipurpose item that can replace some steps in your daily routine.”
St. Jane – $38.00
From the beginning, St. Jane founder Casey Georgeson set out to create more than just sunscreen—she wanted to give people the final step in their skincare routine.
“It had to be a supercharged, multi-tasking SPF with results-driven skincare benefits inspired by the powerful and beautiful flowers that St. Jane is famous for,” she says. Her non-negotiable requirements were meticulously clean ingredients that blur pores to create an inclusive product that doesn’t leave a white cast. “The formula should work hand-in-hand with your makeup routine — to smooth it out and enhance your skin’s natural glow,” she says. “Luxury Sun Ritual is makeup’s new BFF providing the perfect canvas for makeup application.”
Curology Sunscreen – $40.00
As a dermatologist-founded company, patients were the driving force behind the development of Curology’s sunscreens. Unsurprisingly, the brand’s research revealed that customers had a negative view of mineral SPF due to its long absorption time and pill texture. Thanks to countless rounds of internal testing on people with different skin tones, sensitivity levels, and concerns, they were able to develop a formula that completely changed those perceptions.
“The result is our silky mineral sunscreen without a white cast, which is gentle on all skin types, and designed specifically with acne-prone skin in mind,” says board-certified dermatologist and brand founder David Lortscher. “It leaves a light, fresh finish so you can go about your day with confidence, whether it’s the last step of your skincare routine or if you decide to layer makeup on top.”
Le Prunier – $78.00
Plums are the hero ingredient of all Le Prunier products, and the brand’s sunscreens uniquely harness the fruit’s all-natural sun-protective powers.
“Most mineral SPFs 30 and above contain an active ingredient [like zinc or titanium dioxide] between 10 and 20 percent, which can create a heavy white cast on the skin and feel pilly,” says co-founder Alison Taylor. “Because of our powerful Plum Superfruit Complex ingredient, the active ingredient we’ve created to achieve a formula that works beautifully on the skin, We were able to reduce the non-nano zinc oxide to only 4.7 percent.”
She adds that it is clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. “It’s everything we wanted in an SPF and more.”
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