Sunscreen Stars 2017

Photo: Massimo Vitali

Memorial Day Weekend is… tomorrow.  Seriously, where did May go?!  I know you probably haven’t even thought about what’s been sitting in your beach bag for the last year, but it’s time to stock up on safe, nontoxic, eco-friendly sunscreen for you and your family.  Every year, we are offered more Clean options, which is great, (!) but some are better than others in the performance department.  Sunscreen Stars is always one of my most popular posts of the year, and it’s my personal favorite to write.  I’ve tried them all, (no, really, all of them) which makes this entry a little long, but it’s for your benefit.  There are some coupon codes at the bottom for you, too.  Read on and stock up now, and hopefully the only other choice you’ll have to make this summer is between a margarita and a paloma.  Decisions, decisions….

The Best Nontoxic Sunscreens on


I get it: you want something that isn’t too heavy, greasy or chalky-looking.  Look no further.  (These are all suitable for children as well.)

  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body SPF 30 is simply stellar.  It contains a whopping 20% non-nano zinc oxide, which not only protects from both UVA and UBV rays, but also soothes skin.  The finish is sheer and the formula is very moisturizing, but not greasy, and it has a light, natural citrus scent.  This is a solid, nontoxic sunscreen.  They also make an unscented version and a TSA-approved travel size.
  • BeautyCounter Broad Spectrum SPF 30 All Over Sunscreen is a very grown-up, luxurious formula; the lightweight, creamy consistency makes it easy to rub in and it goes on sheer, never chalky.  It is also water-resistant up to 40 minutes.  You can certainly use this on the kiddos, but I like to save this one for myself.
  • Acure Organics Sunscreen Spray SPF 30: Hallelujah.  Moms and lazy men everywhere can rejoice in the long-time-coming release of a safe sunscreen spray.  It’s Clean, and mineral-based, with non-nano zinc oxide.  It’s water-resistant up to 80 minutes.  It doesn’t leave a ghostly-white finish.  It’s hypoallergenic.  Done, and done.**
  • Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30:  Can I get another Hallelujah?  This formula is very similar to that of Acure; it’s non-nano zinc-based, water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes, ultra-sheer and lightweight and contains loads of soothing, anti-inflammatory botanicals to soothe even the most sensitive skin.**
  • Surf Mud Body Oil SPF 15 will remind you of the “tropical” tanning oils you loved as a teenager.  Now you’re all grown up, and you know better than to use products made with mineral oil and synthetic fragrance, but you still kind of miss them, don’t you?  With organic, plant-based oils to hydrate, and organic Cocoa Powder to scavenge free radicals (while smelling delicious), you can now safely reminisce.
  • BANXBlock Fragrance Free SPF 40 is not only the official sunscreen of the LA County Lifeguards and the US Water Polo Team, but countless surfers and marathoners love this stuff, too.  And, for good reason: it’s a workhorse.  This sunscreen lasts and lasts, in and out of the water, and it doesn’t poison you or the ocean’s coral reefs (none of these picks will).  The formula isn’t greasy, and once it’s rubbed in, there is minimal whiteness (which is rare for a water-resistant, mineral-based sunscreen).  It also won’t run into your eyes, or sting them, making this a great pick for the whole family.
  • Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 25 Unscented Sunscreen Lotion is kinda’ fabulous.  This non-greasy, incredibly lightweight formula sinks right into skin without a trace of white film.  This sunscreen would please even the most high-maintenance bathing beauty, and you can’t beat the value. Perfect for the whole family.

* *  To be clear, I still prefer to use sunscreen cream or lotion to continuous-spray formulas on small babies and children.  (If you’re a new mom, I suggest lathering your little one up before dressing them, before leaving the house.)  I’m SO grateful to have continuous-spray options, and I will most definitely be using them in moderation this summer.  However, I personally don’t like the thought of children accidentally inhaling the stuff, and it’s easy to miss a spot or apply too little, so these will make great reapplication options for us when we are outdoors.

The Best Nontoxic Sunscreens on


These face sunscreens are strong enough for a day spent outside, but many of them are also suitable for daily use.

  • Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30 has a #1 rating by the EWG (as do all their sunscreens), and for good reason: it is totally nontoxic.  This ultra-moisturizing sunscreen goes on sheer and creates a primed, semi-matte finish for makeup application, making it ideal for everyday as well as long days in the sun.
  • Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Tinted Face Sunscreen is my go-to for a beach day; it gives incredible, nontoxic protection from the sun while evening out my skin tone.  For those with normal-dry skin, it can also be worn over moisturizer and under makeup for everyday.  And, with 5 versatile shades, there is an option for virtually everyone.  (I wear Golden Light.)  They also make a sample size, which is great for travel.
  • Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30: This is a totally natural, broad spectrum SPF that thinks it’s a day cream and acts like a lotion.  Active herbal extracts, plant-based oils and non-nano zinc oxide treat, moisturize and protect skin without ever leaving it feeling greasy or sticky.  Makeup slides right on over this sunscreen, making it perfect for both work and play.  There is also a tinted version.
  • Luzern Laboratories La Defense SPF 30 Urban Protect is an incredible sunscreen for the face.  It is light, yet hydrating, and it is suitable for all skin types.  This transparent zinc-based formula contains a powerhouse of active, anti-aging ingredients that boost collagen and elastin and fight discoloration and free radicals, so it’s great for everyday wear under makeup as well as a beach day.  And, it smells amazing (like watermelon!).

The Best Nontoxic Sunscreens on

These lightweight SPF’s are perfect for everyday use, alone, or under makeup.

  • True Botanicals Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 is one of my everyday essentials, and an all-time favorite.  I love it so much that I even wear it as my tinted moisturizer under my makeup for evening.  This product creates a true soft-focus effect, and it’s offered in two shades: light and medium.
  • Hynt Beauty Sun Prep SPF 30 has done what I thought was impossible.  They’ve created a transparent moisturizer, primer (that is silicone-free, I might add) and SPF, all-in-one. It is light, silky, and will absolutely not break you out.  SCORE.
  • Jane Iredale Dream Tint SPF 15 gives light to moderate coverage and minimizes the look of fine lines and large pores.  Best for normal-oily skin, this tinted SPF gives just enough soothing moisture.  Available in 5 versatile shades.
  • Luzern Bio-Suisse BB Cream SPF 20‘s active, anti-aging formula is very similar to that of Luzern’s La Defense.  Its sun protection factor comes from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the two safest options out there, so you can definitely wear this when spending a day in the sun.  However, this lightweight BB cream’s complexion-correcting pigments create a soft-focus effect, blurring fine lines, pores and hyperpigmentation, so it’s also a perfect daily tinted moisturizer.
  • Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense SPF 18 goes on sheer – I’m talking ZERO white, chalky, tint, people, ZERO.  It is not oily, greasy, heavy, or runny, it doesn’t leave me shiny, (the finish is semi-matte) and instead of rubbing it in for 5 minutes like many other SPF’s, it sinks right into skin.  It is perfect for those who are oily or acne-prone.
  • W3LL PEOPLE Bio Tint Multi Action Moisturizer SPF 30 is new this year, and I bet it’s going to win some green beauty awards.  Broccoli Seed Oil takes the place of the dimethicone found in most primers/bb creams/tinted SPF’s, perfecting the skin’s surface and leaving it smooth and primed.  I do have to wait just one minute for it to “sink in”, but once it does, the finish is satin and flawless – not too matte, not too dewy, and definitely not heavy-feeling or looking.  Premium natural pigments correct skin imperfections/uneven skin tone, and clean, safe, natural pure zinc protects skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays.  This stuff is even strong enough for a day spent outside.  I wear Medium.  

The Best Nontoxic Sunscreens on


Because a girl’s gotta have accessories

  • Ilia Moondance Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 is going to be on constant rotation in my routine this summer.  This mineral-based finishing powder is perfect for touchups while on the go, and totally zaps shine.  The spill-proof applicator has an open, close and buff option that is perfect for touching up while out in the sun.
  • Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF 15 in Darlin’ is the perfect trifecta of lip balm, lipstick, and sun protection with a peachy, universally flattering hue. (Kamikaze is also really pretty.)  Ingredients such as cocoa and Shea butter hydrate lips, zinc oxide provides natural SPF, and the buildable colors are universally flattering.  If you’re in the sun, reapply often.
  • Suntegrity Lip CPR SPF 30 is already such a favorite, that I’m even wearing it at night.  These sleek lil’ lipsticks provide a whopping SPF 30 without leaving you with a yucky sunscreen taste in your mouth, (they taste and smell minty!) and the colors are killer (my favorite is Sunrise Peach). The incredibly hydrating formula is even filled with Konjac Root Wrinkle-Filling Spheres to reduce the look of fine lines.  Love!
  • Hurraw! Sun Protection Lip Balm SPF 15 is a great no-frills, budget-friendly, unisex lip protectant.  I finally got my husband to trade in his toxic lip SPF for this last summer, and he hasn’t complained.  Reapply this formula often, though!  Lip products wear off faster than body or face sunscreens.
  • Banx Block Fragrance Free SPF 30 Stick is one of the best Clean SPF sticks I’ve ever tried.  Packed with soothing zinc and chamomile, this fragrance-free stick is great for little ones, and once rubbed in, the whiteness totally disappears, which is so rare.  Also, this formula won’t sting eyes and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
  • Badger Kids Face Stick SPF 35 is great for the whole family.  Non-nano zinc provides up to 80 minutes of water-resistant protection, and the vanilla-orange scent (from essential oils) is a crowd-pleaser.  Can be used on face, lips, etc.
  • I also love Babo Botanicals Fragrance-Free Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30 for squirmy little faces and tiny little places.  It is so easy to throw in my purse or in Daddy’s pocket.

The Best Nontoxic Sunscreens on


All of the above picks are absolutely, 100% baby and child-friendly, but in case you want something that’s just for them, these are my favorites:

  • Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30 with Chamomile and Calendula: This sunscreen is soothing, super-safe and suitable for even the most sensitive skin.  Non-nano zinc oxide provides up to 40 minutes of water-resistant protection.  It does take some rubbing in to rid baby’s skin of the chalkiness factor, but it’s never bothered me.
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 is perfect, even for those with the most sensitive skin.  This product is vegan, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic and totally nontoxic.  Babo Botanicals uses non-nano clear zinc, and is loaded with plant-based ingredients like jojoba, rosehip, green tea and shea butter.
  • Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen provides up to 80 minutes of water-resistant protection with non-nano zinc oxide.  Light and silky, this formula absorbs readily, and ingredients like lavender, chamomile, aloe and olive oil hydrate and nourish delicate skin.


  • Just as when you are shopping for a body lotion, you should avoid sunscreens that contain parabens, phthalates (both endocrine disruptors), petrolatum (a nonrenewable resource) and propylene glycol (generally toxic to human organs).
  • If you only remember one thing from this post, let this be it:  With all the Clean, nontoxic, affordable options out there, there is absolutely no reason to use a sunscreen with Oxybenzone.  Oxybenzone is  probably the most popular chemical blocker (it absorbs the sun’s rays before they can damage the skin) currently used in conventional sunscreen.  It penetrates the skin very easily, and it can be found in the urine of nearly every American, mothers’  breastmilk and umbilical cord blood.  Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor; it mimics estrogen, has been found to alter sperm count in animals and can interfere with normal fetal and childhood development.  Similar chemical blockers that carry similar hazards are Octinoxate, Homosalate, Avobenzone and Octocrylene.  That said, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients.  These are “physical blockers”; they literally block the sun’s rays from damaging the skin and are very safe.

Okay, here are all the coupon codes you need to shop your little heart out:

  • LeVert Beauty: get 10% off your entire purchase, all the time, with code BB10.
  • True Botanicals: first time customers get $20 off a $40+ purchase with code JESSICATRUE20.
  • The Detox Market: Take 10% off orders $100+ with code SUNNY10, and 15% off orders $200+ with code SUNNY15.
  • Safe & Chic: Take 10% off your entire purchase, all the time, with code BAREBEAUTY.
  • Integrity Botanicals: 15% off orders $100+ with code MDAY17

Here’s to an amazing Memorial Day Weekend and safe fun in the sun with the ones you love.  ????