Sustainable and toxin-free living

Sustainable and toxin-free living


Green Clean Beauty Review: The Best Non-Toxic Daily Moisturizers with SPF Sun Protection

Image Credit: Blissoma
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What a relief to learn that none of the fancy and myriad anti-aging beauty ingredients work… except one: daily SPF sun protection. You can stop spending hundreds of dollars on an elaborate routine!

But it’s not easy to find a good SPF moisturizer. Many options out there are either greasy, cast a white glow on the skin, or just don’t play well with makeup. It can be tempting to skip the SPF in favor of SPF-containing makeup, but we don’t reapply foundation every two hours, do we?

Rather than slather on extra makeup (which can be drying and pore-clogging), it’s best to opt for an SPF product that’s intended to work with makeup and that can easily be reapplied throughout the day to keep up the UV protection. The problem is that a huge percentage of facial sunscreens out there are toxic, and not just for the usual reasons we hear about in the news.

As always, you should steer clear of phthalates, parabens, and artificial fragrances. But there are lots of other potentially harmful ingredients in common SPF products, many of them poorly regulated in the US. That includes homosalate, a hormone-disrupting chemical; octocrylene, which is toxic enough to be a major concern for the ocean’s food chain; octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate), which has been found in the bloodstream at levels over 16x its “safe” limit; avobenzone, which can turn carcinogenic when mixed with water; and octisalate, a suspected skin sensitizer and hormone disruptor.

We’re not superfans of mineral sunscreen, though. It’s hard to find products that are effective against UV rays and don’t dry out the skin. Meanwhile, the United States FDA hasn’t approved the best sunscreen ingredients that are available to Europeans. So, how can we protect our faces from harmful chemicals and the sun?

Look for SPF moisturizers that are formulated for skincare and sun protection. These types of products will typically contain moisturizing compounds like aloe, shea butter, coconut oil, and other natural moisturizers that help to condition and protect your face from heat and UV rays worn alone or in conjunction with your makeup. These moisturizers will work well with natural sun-protecting compounds, such as tomato lycopene in 100 Percent Pure’s formulation.

Well-established brands that offer non-toxic SPF moisturizers should be able to prove their safety through certain labels and certifications that are meant to protect the consumer and inform them of the brand’s standards for safety and efficacy, including but not limited to B-Corp certification, EWG verification and Made Safe.

We tested out some of our favorite SPF moisturizers, focusing on those with at least 20 SPF or higher, which 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!

 

Blissoma

What we love: Blended and freshly reformulated with care, Blissoma’s Photonic SPF 30 Broad-Spectrum Light-Shifting Solution packs an even bigger punch than its previous SPF 25 version and includes an array of botanical oils and extracts, moisturizing niacinamide, and uncoated zinc oxide for a flawless, 13.2% transparent finish. It’s formulated to be gentle on sensitive and acne-prone skin, UVA/UVB protective, and silicone-free. The airless bottle is made of glass with a built-in pump and can be refilled once you run out.

Our review: Blissoma’s Photonic SPF light-shifting solution is perfect for a sheer layer of light coverage, alongside sun protection and several natural skincare ingredients that contribute to its airy floral scent. It goes on smoothly and melts into the skin, leaving behind a soft blur that works for most light to medium skin tones. While the product is lightly tinted, it’s fairly transparent in a modest blurring layer. It stays on the face all day, resists sweat, and is easy to re-apply.

Price range: $60 to $68

 

 

Juice Beauty

What we love: Juice Beauty does mineral moisturizer well with its SPF 30 tinted mineral moisturizer. This is a 4-in-1 multitasking BB cream with zinc mineral coverage and antioxidant-rich apple, as well as grape and aloe botanical juices for a radiant, even-toned complexion. It has a simpler ingredient list than Ilia but definitely has some benefits. The brand also offers a range of SPF products for lips, everyday moisturizers, and high-performance activities that you won’t sweat through.

Our review: Our tester loved the Probiotix SPF 45 Glow, which can be worn under or over makeup for a smooth, dewy finish. While the SPF 30 oil-free moisturizer was a bit thicker and applied evenly, the SPF 30 sport sunscreen lasted longer out in the heat. The latter two products are a great option for a full day by the pool.

Price range: $12 to $40

 

 

MD SolarSciences

What we love: 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, which only means you might not recognize some of the ingredients on the bottle. However, that doesn’t mean you should omit it altogether. The cremes are made to rejuvenate and refine your skin, helping it to hold in moisture while you’re out in the heat. While the tinted moisturizer is SPF 30, the untinted version goes up to SPF 50, which can be fairly hard to find in clean beauty.

Our review: The tinted and untinted SPF moisturizing cremes are both fragrance-free, which is a huge relief to those with sensitivities to odors, allergies, and asthma. They apply silky smooth, feel lightweight on the skin, and contain a small amount of dimethicone —  a silicone-based polymer rated as a low hazard on the Skin Deep database.

Price range: $20 to $52

 

 

Coola

What we love: 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 we 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.

Our review: Our editor loves the Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Rosilliance Tinted Organic BB Cream, which comes in several skin tints. It goes on light and smooth, with a subtle shimmer and natural finish that smooths out flaws or skin discoloration. We also love the makeup setting spray, which can be reapplied all throughout the day even after you put on makeup. It stings a little bit for about three seconds when you spray it on, but that’s a function of the SPF. Our only request is that Coola creates a travel size that we can shove in a purse for reapplication!

Price range: $52

 

 

Ilia Beauty

What we love: Ilia Beauty offers powder, serum, and cream options for SPF moisturizers. Its C Beyond Triple Serum in SPF 40 has vitamin C, niacinamide (vitamin B3), and non-nano zinc oxide, which prevents the skin from absorbing any zinc while also offering its usefulness as a UV protectant.

Our review: The brand’s Radiant Beauty Balm Tinted SPF 20 has a super subtle scent, goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly, and leaves skin with a glow, though it doesn’t effectively have any coverage. Our tester is going to wear this on days when she wants a natural, glowing look and doesn’t have any blemishes to take care of.

Price range: $64

 

 

Suntegrity

What we love: Suntegrity focuses on sun protection, whether it’s in the form of a moisturizer, stick, or serum. Its tinted moisturizer BB cream is completely unscented and contains aloe, coconut oil, cucumber, hyaluronic acid, green tea, and a whole host of other plant-based, organic ingredients.

Our review: Similar in coverage to other tinted moisturizers, it goes on thick and smooth, with a matte tint that makes a solid base for makeup application.

Price range: $24 to $55

Editorial note: As of June 13, 2024, Suntegrity has issued a recall on lot 115BU of its Suntegrity Impeccable Skin Sunscreen Foundation in multiple shades due to microbiological contamination. The brand has also recalled additional lots out of caution.

 

 

Kari Gran

What we love: This brand’s essential tinted SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA – rays that age the skin – and UVB, rays that burn skin, making it appropriate for both sunny and rainy days. It’s also reef-safe thanks to the non-nano zinc, the active ingredient in this SPF, which makes this a great option for beach days.

Our review: Smooth and lightweight, this moisturizer melts into skin and creates a protective barrier that doesn’t sweat off and doesn’t leave a cast. The tinted SPF moisturizer offers a super-sheer coverage, making it the perfect base for makeup, while the untinted version goes on to leave a nice summery glow. Neither of the moisturizers is shimmery, and they both offer the light scent of a tropical paradise.

Price range: $48

 

 

Josh Rosebrook

What we love: 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’s also SPF 30, which helps block out most UV rays to keep the skin looking radiant. Thankfully, you can get SPF in the brand’s nutrient day cream, which is perfect for a full day in the hot sun.

Our review: The brand’s nutrient day cream has a truly delicious scent, and goes on smoothly, absorbing quickly into the skin. Because it has a lot of zinc, which is astringent, our tester would recommend layering a moisturizer underneath it. However, if used alone, it can make the skin feel a bit tight. It’s also the most expensive of the bunch we tried, which is a reflection of the quality and number of organic ingredients.

Price range: $55 to $60

 

100 Percent Pure

What we love: One of our editorial staff’s favorite clean beauty brands, 100 Percent Pure is going for just that: pure makeup and skincare. It features three moisturizers ranging from SPF 20 to SPF 30: a green tea SPF, a tomato lycopene facial SPF moisturizer, and a heavier-duty yerba mate sunscreen that can be used on the face and body. These products are packed full of nutrients, natural plant oils, and vitamins to help moisturize and protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Our review: We tested the spray-on yerba mate SPF, which worked well but left a bit of a white cast on the skin, which was visible when submerged underwater. While it’s on the safe side without any toxic chemicals or additives, this product is best worn out of the water — and on lighter skin tones.

Price range: $34 to $38

 

 

Activist Skincare

What we love: Activist is incredibly transparent about the ingredients in its products. In fact, its website contains information about each ingredient: what it’s used for, where it comes from, and its benefits. From cold-pressed coconut oil to cucumber and calendula, each product is made using natural, botanical ingredients with benefits specific to the products. The website features a long list of toxic ingredients that are omitted from its products for extra clarity and transparency.

Our review: Our tester tried out samples of the brand’s SPF 30 Tinted Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Stick and SPF 30 Tinted Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Cream. While the skin cream felt more like a matte moisturizer than one made for long excursions in the sun, the SPF stick had a longer-lasting moisturizing effect. However, both products, which lasted all day, need a spritzing of moisturizing face mist on top every few hours due to their slightly drying effects.

Price range: $20

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