Sunscreen Breakthroughs

by Abbie Kozolchyk

Not so long ago, if you wanted clean sun protection, it generally came at the cost of what formulators call “cosmetic elegance.” Translation: easy-blending, feel-good textures. A certain degree of goopiness and ghostliness (both potential side effects of UV-blocking minerals) was all but a given— the deal you made with the derm gods to keep your outdoor exploits from damaging your skin, or for that matter, the planet.

Now, however, clean sun care is proliferating and innovating so quickly, you’ll find seemingly limitless textures and tints to go with the most important element: broad-spectrum protection. Read on for seven of our favorite cases in point.

Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30
Suggestive of a beautiful, herbal spa treatment— thanks to oils of lavender, rose hip and parsley seed, among others—this formula wins hearts on scent alone. But the imperceptible elements are at least as important, from the moisturizing hyaluronan molecules to the ultra-sheer zinc oxide that leaves no trace while combating UV rays.

Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35
Though this lightweight moisturizer looks like it’s meant to impart some tint, the fast disappearing peachy pigment is there merely to neutralize the zinc oxide’s whitish cast. What you’re left with is a semi-matte (but not dry) natural finish that tends to work well for even breakout-prone skin.


Supergoop Matte Mineral Screen SPF 40
Of course, oils aren’t for everyone—particularly in summer, when your own oil glands may need no further assistance. Mattifying, shine- and pore-minimizing and ever so subtly tinted, this sunscreen is a great oil-free alternative.


Kari Gran Essential Tinted SPF 28
The opposite of an old-school tinted sunscreen that’s semi-opaque and tough to blend, this oil-based, zinc oxide-fortified formulation delivers a sheer finish that falls somewhere between dewy and glowy—thanks to plum, macadamia and raspberry seed oils, among others.

Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 50
Whether or not you’re hitting the beach with a baby, this find is great for anyone who likes a stick formulation. Mature skin, in particular, will appreciate the very ingredients that make the formula so protective of (and easy on) baby skin: coconut oil, shea and cocoa butters.

Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30
When you’re not hitting the beach or the pool, this everyday lotion— a transparent blend of zinc oxide, fatty acids, antioxidants and phytonutrients—is hard to beat, as beloved for restoring and nourishing as for protecting.


Badger Sport Mineral Sunscreen Tin SPF 40
The opposite of the paste-like archetype of a natural sports sunscreen, this water-resistant balm blends clear zinc oxide with organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax and vitamin E—a small but mighty team of ingredients that earned the first ever Protect Land + Sea Certification.

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