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
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.
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
- PPGs or PEGs like PEG 180
Fave Nontoxic Face SPFs
Basically there are two groups of face SPFs. Tinted and non-tinted. My personal preference is to go in with a non-tinted SPF and then layer my favorite foundation over it. Here are my top picks for non-tinted face SPF (in order).
Above is a swatch of all three of my faves. I tried to rub them in a little next to each swatch so you can see how they look on the skin.
Hynt Beauty Sun Prep SPF 25 – I love this formula. It pumps out like a light lotion, smells sweet and best part!? Goes on CLEAR! This actually acts like a makeup primer, filling in fine lines and is so easy to layer. It can be used as your moisturizer or layered over your moisturizer depending on your personal skincare needs (I layer). It adds a quick broad spectrum SPF 25 via titanium dioxide. Great for men or woman. It’s also vegan, PETA Approved and gluten-free. LISA15 will save you 15% at The Green Goddess Shop.
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 – I also LOVE this formula too. Pumps out white but rubs into clear – even for darker skin types. It’s also the most matte formula I’ve found. It’s legit the opposite of greasy and uses zinc oxide to provide broad spectrum SPF 30. I like to apply my daily moisturizer under and then layer my foundation over. I’m a sucker for anything Josh who formulates super clean and incorporates anti-inflammatory, antioxidants and phytonutrient herbals – always. Great for men and women. No scent. I will probably cry when I run out of this. Get it!
Kari Gran 365 SPF 28 – This formula is more like an oil/serum and is best applied over moisturizer. It pumps out opaque and rubs in clear. (It still looks white above but it will rub in clearer than this). This broad spectrum SPF uses titanium dioxide to block the rays and is accompanied by organic oils like avocado and jojoba seed to nourish the skin. It also has non-GMO raspberry seed oil to help provide additional protection from the sun. Leaves skin with a dewy glow. I would recommend layering this with a liquid or cream foundation rather than a powder. Smells light and fresh. Try it!
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.
Nontoxic Tinted Face SPFs
Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen SPF 30
- 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.
ILIA Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20
- 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.
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Tinted Broad Spectrum SPF 30
- 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.
W3LL PEOPLE BIO TINT multi-action moisturizer SPF 30
- comes in 4 shades; fair, light, medium and medium dark
- this is a thicker formula and covers more like a foundation
- dries matte
- will cover some redness (you can see it softened a lot of my hyperpigmentation above)
- definitely need to use a moisturizer before applying
- employs zinc oxide as a mineral barrier – great for someone who prefers to avoid titanium dioxide
- I have it on in the color light here which seems to do the trick. I haven’t tried medium.
- fragrance free and formula has little to no smell – I can probably smell the zinc a bit.
OVERALL: A great pick for someone looking for SPF that wears more like a thicker foundation. Shades are limited here, I would advise getting samples before buying.
Lastly I just want to add, if you are hitting the beach for the day, you want to go with something stronger than all of these. I like Raw Elements SPF 30 for my face. It goes on white and will not rub into clear – mostly but not all the way. But that’s good because you want something that is going to create a barrier between you and the sun especially if you DO the beach like I do for 8 hours at a time…the ingredients are super clean too. They also have a tinted one if you prefer. I personally like a stick.
I also like this stick for my face and my kids. Super clean and effective.
Also, love this for lips.
What are you using these days?