Obviously we should be wearing face SPF year round but once spring hits, the hustle to find a daily nontoxic face SPF gets REAL. I’ve spent the past few months testing face SPFs so I wanted to detail out some nontoxic options that I’ve liked. But first, choose nontoxic!
How And Why To Choose Nontoxic When It Comes To SPF
It’s super important to choose nontoxic. First, because our bodies are our largest organ and anything we apply on our skin has direct access to our bloodstream (bypassing our livers and any internal filters). Don’t believe me? Think about a birth control patch, a nicotine patch or topical hormone meds for example. #directaccess
Check the Active Ingredients
Next, there are two ways sunscreens will protect you from the sun: mineral barriers or chemical barriers. We want to be sure to choose a sunscreen with a mineral barrier. On the label, under “active ingredients” this will look like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Conversely, conventional sunscreens will use chemicals like:
- Oxybenzone: detected in nearly every American and found in mother’s milk; this chemical acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women.
- Octinoxate: also detected in mother’s milk, this chemical has hormone-like activity and is associated with reproductive system, thyroid and behavioral alterations in animals.
- Homosalate: disrupts estrogen, androgen and progesterone.
- Octocrylene: relatively high rates of skin allergy
More on the dangers of chemical-based sunscreens at EWG.
Check the Inactive Ingredients
After we’ve checked out the “active ingredients” we also want to scan the “inactive ingredients” to make sure they are void of any toxins too. You don’t have to be an ingredient guru to make an informed decision here. Scan the label for TOG’s top 5 ingredients to to avoid in your skincare and this will cut out most of the junk out there!
- Fragrance/Perfume – because it can contain up to thousands of undisclosed chemicals. The Scientific American explains more here.
- Any ingredient ending in “paraben” like methylapraben, propylparaben, ethylparaben etc. Parabens have been shown to accelerate cancer cell growth.
- Ethoxylated ingredients which can be identified with “eth” in their name like laureth, steareth or ceteareth which can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane; a known carcinogen.
- Phenoxyethanol – a possible neurotoxin.
- PPGs or PEGs like PEG 180 which may also contain 1,4 dioxane.
Favorite Nontoxic Everyday Sheer Face SPFs
Basically there are two groups of face SPFs. Tinted and sheer. My personal preference is to go in with a sheer SPF and then layer my favorite foundation over it. There’s more control and I like being able to use my favorite foundation and/or BB Cream. Here are my top picks for sheer face SPF (in order).
Honua MALU Protecting Day Cream SPF 30 – This formula doubles as a moisturizer and is perfect on its own. This is my top pick because it’s so moisturizing and truly acts like a day cream. Reef safe. Uses non-nano, broad spectrum zinc as a mineral barrier. The only down side is at 1 oz, it’s really small.
#2 Kimberly Sayer
Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 – This cream is so light it will blow your mind. Great for those with oily or acne-prone skin or who don’t want to give up their daily skincare routine but are looking to add in some SPF. Smells really beautiful. Uses non-nano, broad spectrum zinc and titanium dioxide as a mineral barrier. And at 4 oz you get more bang for your buck here.
#3 Josh Rosebrook
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 – This formula works to repair, moisturize and protect. Unlike the others, this formula dries matte. It’s legit the opposite of greasy. So if you typically have dry skin, this may not be the best match for you or you may need to layer a moisturizer under it. It’s formulated crazy organic and it comes in two sizes; full size and travel. Uses non-nano, broad spectrum zinc as a mineral barrier. Great for men and women. No scent.
Nontoxic Tinted Face SPFs
Okay and for those who prefer an all-in-one tinted moisturizer with SPF, I’ve detailed out a few for you here to choose from! And yes, I’ve tried more but these are the ones I like the best.
Also as of May 2019, this right here is the latest and greatest when it comes to tinted barriers. It’s not technically an SPF but it’s formulated with zinc and titanium dioxide and it’s been working like one for me! It also works as a protectant from pollution, oxidation, dehydration, “light”, dryness and the proliferation of bad bacteria. It’s kind of like a little miracle. Good news/bad news. Bad news is it’s high end with a high price tag BUT the good news is you can discover it for less with Beauty Heroes this month. Here’s more…
- available in 5 shades: fair, light, golden light, medium and deep bronze
- golden light oxidized and turned too orangey on me (see middle pic above)
- light went on very light but blended in and was sheer enough to work with my olive skin (see far right pic above)
- provides light to sheer coverage
- depending on your skin type you could use this alone or layer over your moisturizer
- does not settle into my laugh lines
- leaves skin looking dewy and wears like a second skin
- broad spectrum SPF 30
- employs mineral barrier zinc oxide only – great for those who prefer to avoid titanium dioxide
- fragrance free and has little to no smell
- cruelty free
OVERALL: A crowd pleaser and easy to use. A true all-in-one product that will even out skin tone, moisturize and protect from the sun. This formula oxidized on me so I would recommend going a shade lighter than expected.
- comes in 6 shades
- shade 5 was a perfect match but it oxidized after a couple of minutes turning a bit orange on me (see above)
- shade 3 seemed too light out of the tube but blended nicely with my coloring (shade 4 was out of stock at the time)
- provides some evenness and light coverage. If you have a lot of redness, you will need to use a concealer too.
- I like to apply a moisturizer first before applying.
- looks fantastic on skin, really life-like and natural.
- it does settle into my laugh lines as the day progresses – I tend to blend them out every time I go to the restroom
- broad spectrum SPF 20
- employs mineral barriers zinc oxide 12% and titanium dioxide .6%
- fragrance free – with little to no smell. I can probably smell the zinc a bit.
- packaged in recyclable plastic
- no synthetic colors, 38% organic, vegan
OVERALL: A high preforming tinted moisturizer. I also found it to have the most versatile and realistic color matches. This one will provide more color coverage than most. This formula also oxidized on me so I would recommend going a shade lighter than normal.
#3 Josh Rosebrook
- very very light to sheer tint
- available in one “all skin types” color
- leaves skin looking and feeling dewy and alive
- no smell + packaged in glass
- this can be used as your moisturizer so no need to apply moisturizer before
- broad-spectrum SPF 30
- employs zinc oxide only as a mineral barrier – great for those who prefer to avoid titanium dioxide
- super clean with most all ingredients being organic, wilcrafted and/or non-GMO – all which work with and support skin function
OVERALL: This no-frills formula is a minimalists’ dream. This provides very little tint and is perfect for someone who values ingredient quality but isn’t looking to cover a ton of redness.
One thing I want to add is all of the above are great for everyday wear but if you are headed out for a full-sun-8-hour-beach-day you are going to need something more. Trust me. For beach days I like:
Raw Elements Daily Lifestyle SPF 30+ Pump: Put it this way, this is the lightest of the heaviest SPFs. Pumps out white and viscous but you can get it to rub into clear if you work at it. The thing is you need the white zinc to block the sun so a little “white cast” is okay at the beach! Uses non-nano, broad spectrum zinc oxide as a mineral barrier. Reef safe.
I also like this stick for my face and my kids. Super clean and effective.
Also, this for lips.
What are you using these days?