The time has come to dish on my top picks for Face SPF in 2021. I’ve tried a ton and I’m not holding back so here we go. The best organic, natural everyday SPFs AND sport SPFs are listed in order here. But first, be sure to check out what to look for on SPF labels to get you up to speed!
Beach Day V. Everyday Face SPF
Just to clarify, I grouped my picks into these two categories. Basically, there are two types of face SPF IMO. Everyday face SPFs that you can layer over your skincare or under your makeup. These formulas are typically lighter, easy to layer and ideally, will fold seamlessly into your skincare/makeup routine. These are user-friendly and are good at blocking out minimal sun exposure like if you are taking a walk or driving to work and back.
And then there are what I call Beach Day Face SPFs (more commonly known as Sport SPFs). These are typically heavier in constancy and are not easy to apply makeup over BUT they are CHAMP at blocking out the rays. Like when I’m setting out the beach blanket and about to clock in a solid 8 hours, I want something that is going to protect my face ALL DAY LONG.
Kate Noonan, Molecular Biologist and Cosmetic Chemist explains the difference between sport and everyday SPFs. “Thicker waxes actually boost SPF value. The interaction between certain emollients, especially the thicker ones, and zinc oxide (as well as titanium dioxide) have been known to increase SPF in a few studies.”
My personal natural SPF faves…
One point of clarification before we begin. I’m narrowing down this study to NON-TINTED face SPFs. I personally haven’t found a tinted SPF that trumps the wear and color-match of my favorite foundations. So I prefer to control my experience by layering in my fave SPF and topping that with my fave foundation to get the best functionality of both worlds. Okay, let’s dive in…
I’ve got top pic recommendations below, listed IN ORDER, for both everyday and sport face SPFs. Under each product you will also see an application video so you can get an idea of how each formula goes on. I’ve also broken these picks down by skin-type, included budget options AND drugstore picks for those days when you are on the fly.
Everyday Natural Face SPF Top Picks
1. Fitglow Beauty Vita Shield SPF 30, 50 ml | $54
Fragrance-free, gluten-free, vegan, reef safe, USA made
Vita Shield is my #1 top pick for everyday face SPF. It’s incredibly lightweight, easy to layer over skincare and/or under make and folds seamlessly into an established skincare/makeup routine. I love wearing this over my face oil. Pumps out white, rubs into clear, dries down to a demi-matte finish. It uses non-nano zinc oxide as a mineral barrier and the inactive ingredients here are off the charts with superstars like antioxidant-rich Sunflower Oil to boost skin’s defense against free radical damage while improving moisture retention and elasticity. The only downside here is this is packaged in plastic. I would love to see it in glass. A seamless experience.
Here’s what one reader had to say on Instagram. I get messages like this all the time!
2. Honua’s MALU SPF 30 – 30 ml | $42
Reef-safe, cruelty free, vegan, gluten free, USA made
A very close runner up, MALU is also a face SPF dream come true. This formula is truly a moisturizer and SPF all in one. I find it to be a little more moisturizing than Fitglow’s. For me, it can be worn alone as a last later that satisfies both SPF needs and moisturizer needs. Pumps out white rubs into clear leaves a dewy, radiant finish. Does not dry skin out AT ALL. It uses non-nano zinc oxide as a mineral barrier and the inactive ingredients are off the charts here too.
Malu smells suggestively tropical-like how I would imagine one of those big Hawaiian flowers to smell. This scent is light and not overpowering. Packaged in miron glass housed in a compostable outer box. The only downside here is at 1 oz, it’s a little small and the pump is not good at getting every last bit. I’m down to the end of mine and I need to use a spatula to extract product. This was my last application. A gorgeous experience.
3. Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 – 60 ml | $85
Vegan, no animal testing, USA made, fragrance free, reef safe and gluten free
Josh’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 is the epitome of organic sunscreen: an Organic Girl’s dream come true. Everything that can be organic/certified organic or wildcrafted IS. Uncoated, non-nano, high micron zinc oxide is combined with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, fatty acids and phytonutrients proven to firm, reduce redness and assist the skin in regeneration.
This pumps out white and dries down to a demi-matte. Depending on the day, I can wear this alone as my moisturizer or I can layer it over my face oil. Doesn’t make your face sweat. Unisex. Packaged in opaque white glass. The only down side its this formula has pilled up on me once or twice. I am classifying this experience as the “every ingredient done right” experience.
BUDGET OPTION: Acure Radically Rejuvenating SPF Day Cream 30, 50 ml | $14
Fragrance free, Leaping Bunny Certified, Recyclable packaging
Acure’s Radically Rejuvenating SPF Day Cream is a beautiful everyday formula – especially for the price! This formula squeezes out light and thin and assimilates almost on demand which you can see here in the video. Leaves skin feeling full and plump but not greasy. I can wear this alone or over a face oil. The downside is the breathability is NOT seamless. It does sit a tiny bit heavy so if you go on a walk and start to schvitz, it will cause the formula to melt a tad. But if you are using this as your everyday moisturizer to and from work, it could be a great fit.
Natural SPF recommendations by skin type
- Normal: Fitglow Beauty Vita Active Shield SPF 30
- Teen: Fitglow Beauty Vita Active Shield SPF 30
- Dry/Mature: Honua’s MALU SPF 30
- Oily/Acne-prone: Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30
- Men: Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30
Additional natural face SPF options I’ve tried
Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30 – A little too heavy/white for every day.
Farizad’s Veil SPF 30+ Powder – A great option to mix into your own favorite face oil/moisturizer.
Kari Gran 365 SPF 28 – A great option for very dry skin.
Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 – Overall I Iove the user experience here however this formula includes emulsifying wax which is concerning to me. More on that here.
Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion SPF 18 – A seamless application. At SPF 18 there is not as much protection as an SPF 30.
Kypris Pot of Shade SPF 30 – This whipped soufflé melts on contact. A face oil + SPF all in one.
Natural Beach Day/Sport Face SPFs
1. Solara Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen, 1.7 fl oz | $42
Fragrance free, USA made, vegan, cruelty free, reef friendly
Okay, Time Traveler is borderline everyday SPF/sport SPF but overall it sits a tad fuller so I’m going to classify it here as a top beach day pick which pretty much knocks every other contender out of the ring so feel free to stop reading after this pick – LOL.
What really sets Time Traveler apart is its focus on skincare first. Peptides, ceramides, antioxidants and multi-functional actives to help address past photodamage and plump the appearance of fine lines while also helping to prevent future damage from digital + environmental aggressors. And, it’s like oh yeah…and there is non-nano zinc oxide too for broad spectrum SPF 30 protection.
Time Traveler squeezes out white and truly rubs in clear. It’s a pillowy, almost whipped formula that starts to melt on contact. Sits full and is the slightest bit tacky on the skin. Not drying at all. Surprisingly, it’s possible to layer makeup over the formula. The only downside is sometimes this formula separates like you can see in the application video. Also, I will be testing it this summer on beach days to see if it can really hold up! This is a one-size-fits-all experience.
2. Raw Elements Lifestyle 30+ Pump, 2.75 oz | $19.99
Water resistant, reef safe, biodegradable, non-GMO project verified, Natural Products Association Certified, USA made, 1% for the Planet, cruelty-free
Raw Elements Lifestyle is a “lightweight version” of their original formula but don’t be mistaken, this formula is THAAACK. It uses non-nano zinc, pumps out white and rubs mostly into clear. You may still see a bit of a white cast. It’s heavier and does not dry down matte. Sits dewy and glowy.
This is a full coverage, effective sunscreen for the beach or major sun exposure days. It held up all day for me on the beaches of Barcelona, Spain. Love the mess-free, plastic-free tube. (They have a tinted version of this too that I want to try as well). I love how responsible and eco friendly this company is with their packaging and formulations. I feel so protected wearing Raw Elements Lifestyle. This is a 100% responsible experience.
3. Suntegrity Mineral Sun Stick SPF 30, 1.62 oz | $38
Water resistant, NSF Certified Organic, USA made, “vegetarian and cruelty free,” reef friendly
Love a good stick. Suntegrity’s is easy to apply and transfers well. Sometimes sticks firm up and they are hard to transfer but this one is like velvet. I also prefer this formula because it dries down almost matte. It’s hard to find a sport SPF that is not greasy but this is pretty close. I love that I can layer my preferred face oil underneath. This is not fragrance free. It has a hint of the Suntegrity signature orange scent. Leaves a bit of a white cast. This is a 100% easy experience.
Here are some additional options I’ve tried:
*All of these have a “white cast” or are a little white even when rubbed in. But that’s kinda par for the course with sport SPFs and not necessarily a bad thing.
- Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen – At $14 on Amazon. Dewy finish.
- Coola Mineral Baby SPF 50 Unscented Sunscreen Stick – Goes on white and thick. Stays white.
- All Good Sunscreen Butter SPF 50 – Effective, comes in a tin which can be messy. Tiny. White.
- Goddess Garden Sport SPF 30 – A great drugstore option for on the go.
- EIR Surf Mud 30 – Love the name. Similar to the All Good but creamier.
- Babo Botanicals SPF 50 – A great option and sometimes you can find it for as little as $10 here!
Drugstore Natural Sunscreen for on-the-go
Sometimes I just need a sunscreen STAT whether it’s I ran out unexpectedly or it’s the first day of the season or we are on vacation or whatever the reason. Be sure to download the 6 sunscreens I reach for at Target via my Resource Library. These aren’t necessarily face SPFs but unlike Blue Lizard, Aveeno, Neutrogena and Alba, they are mineral-based and what I consider to be clean and will do in a pinch.
RELATED: Read more about the best natural mineral sunscreens here.
What’s your natural go-to face SPF this season?