How to Choose Safe and Effective Sunscreens: Mineral-Based and Plant-Based Options

How to Choose Safe and Effective Sunscreens: Mineral-Based and Plant-Based Options

How to Choose Safe and Effective Sunscreens: Mineral-Based and Plant-Based Options

EWG-Certified Sunscreens

Sunscreen is essential for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, but with so many options available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a trusted resource for evaluating the safety and efficacy of sunscreens. Their EWG VERIFIED™ designation helps you identify sunscreens that meet rigorous standards for health and environmental safety. In this blog, we'll break down mineral-based and plant-powered sunscreen options that align with EWG's guidelines, so you can find a safe and effective sunscreen you'll love.

 Choosing Mineral-Only Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens use natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block UV rays. Here's how to choose the best mineral-only sunscreens:

✔️ Check the Active Ingredients

Look for sunscreens that list non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the primary active ingredients. These minerals provide broad-spectrum protection by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting UV rays.

Avoid Harmful Additives

Ensure the sunscreen does not contain harmful additives such as parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, oxybenzone and octinoxate. EWG-certified sunscreens are free from these chemicals.

🧴 Consider Your Skin Type

Sensitive Skin: Choose a sunscreen with additional soothing ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile.

Oily Skin: Opt for a lightweight, non-comedogenic formula to prevent clogged pores.

Dry Skin: Look for sunscreens with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter or jojoba oil.

🌐 Look for Broad-Spectrum Protection

Ensure the sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, which is indicated on the product label.

💧 Water Resistance

For outdoor activities or swimming, select a water-resistant formula that provides protection for at least 40 to 80 minutes in water.

Choosing Mineral-Free, Chemical-Free, 100% Plant-Based Sunscreens

For those seeking sunscreens that avoid both minerals and synthetic chemicals, plant-based options can offer some sun protection. Here’s what to look for:

🌿 Natural UV Protective Ingredients

Look for natural oils and extracts known for their UV protective properties:

Red Raspberry Seed Oil: Provides some natural protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Carrot Seed Oil: High in carotenoids, offering some UV protection.

Coconut Oil: Moisturizes and offers minimal SPF protection (around SPF 4-6).

Shea Butter: Contains cinnamic acid for some UV protection.

Certification and Testing

Ensure the sunscreen has been tested and certified for its SPF value. EWG’s Skin Deep database is a useful resource for finding certified plant-based sunscreens.

🌸 Additional Ingredients

Choose sunscreens with additional skin-beneficial ingredients such as:

Aloe Vera: Soothes and hydrates the skin.

Green Tea Extract: Provides antioxidant protection.

Beeswax: Offers water resistance and a protective barrier.

⏱️ Application and Reapplication

Plant-based sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating to maintain effectiveness.

 Awareness About Sunscreen Sprays

Sunscreen sprays are a popular option due to their convenience and ease of application, especially for parents with young children. However, EWG raises several concerns about the safety and efficacy of these products:

⚠️ Inhalation Risks

Sunscreen sprays can pose inhalation risks, as the fine particles can be breathed in during application. This is particularly concerning for children and individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions. To minimize this risk, avoid spraying sunscreen directly on the face and always use in well-ventilated areas.

Uneven Coverage

Spray sunscreens can result in uneven coverage, leaving some areas of the skin unprotected. It's essential to rub in the sunscreen after spraying to ensure even distribution and adequate protection.

🔥 Flammability

Many sunscreen sprays contain flammable ingredients. Keep sprays away from open flames or sparks, and avoid using them near BBQs, campfires, or while smoking.


Choosing the right sunscreen is a personal decision that weighs both safety and effectiveness. EWG-certified mineral-only sunscreens offer a reliable, broad-spectrum shield against UV rays without compromising on safety. For those seeking a plant-based approach, options exist, but it's important to understand their level of protection may vary. Consulting your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations is always wise, especially if you have sensitive skin or any underlying health conditions.

Explore EWG's Skin Deep database ( to find EWG VERIFIED™ sunscreens that perfectly suit your needs. With the right protection in place, you can confidently embrace the outdoors and enjoy the sunshine all year round!