Being tan and wrinkly is out; having a smooth, glowing, natural complexion is in.
You can’t read any skin advice without getting a recommendation for a good daily SPF moisturizer, no matter what time of year. The key is to get a non-toxic SPF moisturizer, so that your face doesn’t absorb toxins. But which ones are the best? I was hearing this question from several friends, so I asked some of my favorite non-toxic brands to send me their products to try out.*
I looked for daily SPFs that were at least 20 or higher, that are free of parabens, phthalates, and other toxic ingredients, and that are meant to be put on every day. Read up and decide which one is best for you!
I love Ilia for their lipsticks, so I was curious to see how I liked this tinted SPF. It has moisturizing aloe vera and coconut, rosehip oil to help combat free radicals, and rose petals and lavender for their anti-inflammatory properties. Subtle pearl pigments of gold softly diffuse the light.
This one has a super subtle scent, goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly, and leaves my skin with a glow, though it doesn’t effectively have any coverage. I’m going to wear this on days when I want a natural, glowing look and don’t have any blemishes I need to take care of.
$42 for 1.7 ounces, or $24.70 per ounce
This creamy moisturizer smells like a tropical paradise. It’s thick, like the other natural SPFs, but the smell makes it a treat to smooth on your face. It’s not shimmery, so it makes a good base for underneath your makeup. The broad-spectrum sunscreen protect against both UVA – rays that age the skin – and UVB, rays that burn skin, making it appropriate for both sunny and rainy days.
$48 for 1 ounce, or $48 per ounce
This is a 4-in-1 multitasking BB cream with zinc mineral coverage, antioxidant-rich apple, grape and aloe botanical juices for a radiant, even-toned complexion. It has a simpler ingredient list than Ilia, but definitely has some benefits.
It has a bright apple scent, and goes on smoothly, though a bit more thickly, with a longer lasting surface moisture (it’s a matter of taste whether the feeling of it being on your skin long after application is a benefit or drawback). Again, it doesn’t provide any meaningful coverage, but makes an excellent base for mineral makeup application. Oh, and it’s more affordable than some of the other choices.
$29 for 2 ounces, $14.50 per ounce
Recognized as one of the “Best Sunscreens” in the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide, this tinted moisturizer is completely unscented, and contains aloe, coconut oil, cucumber, hyaluronic acid, green tea, and a whole host of other plant-based, organic ingredients.
Similar in coverage to other tinted moisturizers, it goes on smoothly and thickly, with a matte tint that makes a good base for makeup application.
$45 for 1.7 ounces, or $26.40 per ounce
MD SolarSciences Mineral Crème SPF 30 and 50
These two creams – tinted and not – are both water resistant for 80 minutes, and contain green tea, cranberry, and pomegranate extracts. This is a science-based product, rather than plant-based. By that I mean you might not recognize the ingredients on the label, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off!
Fragrance-free, this was the most lightweight and easy to apply of the bunch I tested. It went on super, super silky, likely because of the dimethicone, which is a silicone based polymer rated as a low hazard on the Skin Deep database. All the other ingredients, while not familiar to the layperson, are completely safe for use, rated as no hazard. The untinted version goes up to SPF 50, a rarity. I would pack this when I know I have a full, bright day in the sun ahead of me.
$30 for 1.34 ounces, or $22.40 per ounce
Free of titanium dioxide, this has zinc oxide to provide mineral-based UVA and UVB protection, plus red algae extract and hydrating kukui and macadamia nut oils blend to restore moisture balance and reduce visible lines. It’s also reef safe, but isn’t water resistant.
It’s untinted, with a subtle, refreshing scent, and goes on like any sunscreen. It’s great for application every morning before makeup application, including your decollate (because it needs sun protection, too!) It has a longggg list of ingredients, but after looking them up, only malic acid has a low level of concern according to Skin Deep. Oh, and it’s also the most affordable SPF I reviewed!
$28 for 2.3 ounces, or $12.60 per ounce
Crammed with a truly extensive laundry list of active herbal extracts and organic plant oils (aloe juice, shea butter, organic oils of evening primrose, hemp seed, jojoba, borage, almond, grapeseed, sesame and sea buckthorn, just to start) with anti inflammatories, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, this day cream is meant to be slathered on first thing every day to nourish the skin over time.
It has a truly delicious scent, and goes on smoothly, absorbing quickly into the skin. Because it has a lot of zinc, which is drying, I would recommend layering a moisturizer underneath it. I found that if I used this alone, my face felt a little tight. It’s the most expensive of the bunch I tried, which is a reflection of the quality and number of organic ingredients.
$85 for 2 ounces, or $42.50 per ounce
Another science-based product, this high end SPF goes on silky smooth with a light, summery scent. It has plant extracts like green team, Japonica leaf, licorice, silk, algae, and rice, but also other non plant-based ingredients. Some have a low level of concern, like cyclopentasiloxane, potassium sorbate, phenoxyethanol, and dimethicone, which gives it its silky feel. While not having any toxic ingredients, it was the least natural out of the bunch I tested.
$68 for 2 ounces, or $34 per ounce
Coola Makeup Setting Spray SPF 30
This company specializes in sunscreens, using as many ingredients as possible that are natural, organic, sustainable and locally sourced. You really should check out all of their products, but I especially recommend their SPF 30 makeup setting spray. It has 70%+ organic ingredients, which is crazy for an SPF, plus cucumber and aloe vera extracts, and hyaluronic acid, which smooths, plumps, and hydrates the skin.
What I love about it is that it is makeup setting spray. I loved being able to put on my makeup for a day party, then topping it off with this product. Before, if I wanted to apply sunscreen, I had to smear it all over my face and mess up my makeup. No more. It stings a little bit for about three seconds when you spray it on, but that’s a function of the SPF. My only request is that Coola creates a travel size that I can shove in my purse for reapplication!
$36 for 1.7 ounces, or $21 per ounce
*They graciously sent me product for free to try for review.