June 6th, 2013

Best Non-Whitening Safe Sunscreens

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groovy green livin safe sunscreen

Summer and safe sunscreen seem to go hand in hand, but the truth is sun protection is important year round. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.

There’s no question that the best form of sun protection is to stay out of the sun. But that’s not realistic for most of us. The next best form of natural sunscreen is to cover up with sun protective clothing, sunglasses and a big floppy hat. Most of us know that it’s not realistic to stay out of the sun or cover-up 24/7, so we need to turn to sunscreen for some additional protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

This year I wasn’t only on a mission for the safest sunscreen, but I was also determined to find a sunscreen that didn’t leave me looking like Caspar the entire summer.  Using a combination of EWG’s Skin Deep Sunscreen Guide and my friend Kathy’s 2013 SafeMama Safer Sunscreen Cheat Sheet, I knew I would find a few good options.

Sunscreen without a thick film and without nanoparticles is a tall order

Part of the problem when looking for a non-whitening safe sunscreen  is that sunscreens without nanoparticles (safer) tend to leave the classic white, thick film on our skin. Manufacturers continue to work on developing sunscreens that work, but  without the white.  The process of micronization and the creation of nanoparticles are used to reduce the white residue. But the safety of nanoparticles is still unclear so your best bet is to avoid them. Thankfully there are some good nano-free options without the white film.

Here’s what I found:

COOLA Plant UV Face Sunscreen

Groovy Green Livin safe sunscreen

  • Price: $33.80 for 1.7 oz.
  • Buy it HERE
  • SPF: Broad Spectrum SPF 30
  • Active Ingredient(s):  Zinc Oxide
  • EWG’s Skin Deep Rating1 out of 10 (low hazard) on their hazard scale.
  • Texture: I really like the ease in application of this sunscreen. It come’s out of the container rather watery-much more so than I expected. It’s unscented and doesn’t leave a white or greasy film. The application is smooth and simple. I have been using this on my face and it blends in well.
  • Scent: Unscented
  • Other Ingredients: The list is relatively long, but nothing jumped out as a red flag.
  • Verdict: Really like this sunscreen. It’s quite pricey so I will continue to use it on my face alone. This small container will probably last me the entire summer. Might not be a good option for entire body usage because of the high price point.
  • Note: I also tested out Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion, Matte Cucumber and COOLA Mineral Face Tint SPF 20, Rose Essence. Both scored a 3 out of 10 (moderate hazard) on the Skin Deep hazard scale. The Rose Essence is a sheer tint and smells wonderful. The cucumber scent was mild and unobtrusive.

Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm Groovy Green Livin safe sunscreen

  • Price: $29.45 for 3.5 oz.
  • Buy it HERE
  • SPF: Tested to SPF 27. Miessence submitted it for third party testing which gave it a rating of SPF level 27.
  • Active Ingredient(s):  Zinc Oxide
  • EWG’s Skin Deep Rating2 out of 10 (low hazard) on their hazard scale.
  • Texture: Comes out of the container a grayish pink tint. The application is easy and feels a bit greasy and sticky. There is very little white film left after the sunscreen has been absorbed into the skin.
  • Scent: Unscented
  • Other Ingredients: The list is relatively short with nothing that makes me want to run. Most of the ingredients are certified organic.
  • Verdict: This is a good whole body sunscreen option. It does go on a bit greasy (probably from the olive oil), but the white film is minimal. The sunscreen has a strong scent that reminded me of a baby scent.
  • Special promotion: New and Preferred Customers who spend $100 of more during June will become an automatic Lifestyle Member and will receive 20% off their order. Lifestyle Members receive a 20% life time discount if they purchase at least once a year.

Episencial Sunny Screen

Groovy Green Livin safe sunscreen

  • Price: $11.86 for 2.7 oz.
  • Buy it HERE
  • SPF: Broad Spectrum SPF 35
  • Active Ingredient(s):  Zinc Oxide (5.5%) and Titanium Dioxide (11%).
  • EWG’s Skin Deep Rating1 out of 10 (low hazard) on their hazard scale.
  • Texture: The sunscreen comes out in a thick, white stream, but surprisingly doesn’t leave much of a white coating and isn’t very greasy. There is some, but it’s not the worst that I’ve seen. I used it on my face and didn’t feel like I needed to shower immediately.
  • Scent: It has a light scent that isn’t overpowering
  • Other Ingredients: There are a few ingredients that are hard to pronounce, but nothing that jumped out as something to avoid.
  • Verdict: I really like this sunscreen for several reasons. The price point is just right for starters. The sunscreen comes out in a thick, white stream, but surprisingly doesn’t leave much of a white coating. There is some, but it’s not the worst that I’ve seen. It has a light scent that isn’t overpowering. This would be a good choice for a basic family sunscreen.

Juice Beauty Sport Moisturizer

Groovy Green Livin Safe Sunscreen

  • Price: $16 for 3.75 oz.
  • Buy it HERE
  • SPF: Broad Spectrum SPF 30
  • Active Ingredient(s):  Zinc Oxide.
  • EWG’s Skin Deep Rating2 out of 10 (low hazard) on their hazard scale.
  • Texture: The sunscreen comes out in a thick, pink stream, and doesn’t leave any white residue. It’s a little sticky, but not bad. I used it on my body and it blended in well.
  • Scent: It has a strong scent that’s pleasant.
  • Other Ingredients: This sunscreen is Certified Organic and list of ingredients isn’t terribly long. Most ingredients were recognizable and pronounceable-always a good sign!
  • Verdict: Juice Beauty always seems to score well in my book. The sunscreen is easy to apply and just a bit sticky. There is hardly any residue probably due to the pink tint. I like that this sunscreen is water resistant up to 80 minutes since we are active for much of our time outside. The scent is quite strong so probably wouldn’t be a good choice for those with scent sensitivities.

Honest Sunscreen

Groovy Green Livin Safe Sunscreen

  • Price: $20.95 for 3 oz.
  • Buy it HERE
  • SPF: 30
  • Active Ingredient(s): Non-nano zinc oxide
  • EWG’s Skin Deep Rating1 out of 10 (low hazard) on hazard scale.
  • Texture: This is a new formulation this year and isn’t quite as messy as it used to be. The lotion is still thick, but spreads easily. Various types of oil (olive and sunflower) are ingredients, making the lotion a bit greasy. There is a slight white/off white tint to the skin after application, but it’s not as noticable as it was previously.
  • Scent: This lotion has a light fragrance.
  • Other Ingredients: There aren’t many ingredients and most are organic. Nothing jumped out as a potential hazard.
  • Verdict: I really like the small number of ingredients used to make this sunscreen-most of them being organic. The cost is reasonable. The change in formulation this year makes the sunscreen much better. The white residue is almost non-existent, with a bit of stickiness remaining. Great choice for the entire body.

Looking for a few more options for safe sunscreen? Check out THESE.

What’s your favorite sunscreen and why?

photo credit: adwriter via photopin cc

Disclosure: I received samples of each of the sunscreens reviewed. All opinions are my very own. There are also a few affiliate links in this post. Any purchases will help support this blog. Thank you!

33 Responses to “Best Non-Whitening Safe Sunscreens”

  1. Thanks for the list. I am in need of sunscreen so I might have to check one of these out. My favorite is still the All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Spray. I really like the convenience of the spray, though it is kind of greasy.

  2. Thanks so much! I’ve never trusted sunscreens so this is super helpful to me!
    Matt the Brisbane Photographer recently posted..Trip home with a Brisbane photographerMy Profile

  3. Thanks for sharing, Lori! Wow, some of them are pricey, though….I hope a little goes a long way. 🙂
    Cathy recently posted..The Day We Met a WWE SuperstarMy Profile

  4. I have been using Aqua sport and loving it! it comes in lotion, balm and spray (pump). the spray is a little greasy (that’s how they get it to spray) but great. no scent to speak of. and rated very well on EWG. It made your list one year, but I don’t see it this year. do you know something I don’t?

  5. Hi Cathy, Did you take a look at Episential? Their price point isn’t too high. Also, take a look at my list from last year. There are a few good ones on there that are reasonable. http://groovygreenlivin.com/4-natural-sunscreens-review/

  6. Hey Jen, This year I was on a mission to find sunscreens that didn’t leave a thick, pasty white film. I still love all the sunscreens that I’ve suggested in the past. So if you’re happy with what you have stick with it!!

  7. You’re so welcome Matt. Let me know which one works for you.

  8. Glad you found one that works for you Marsha. I was really looking for one that wasn’t too greasy or white.

  9. […] Reading: My friend Lori shared her thoughts on finding the best non-whitening sunscreen. For a very detailed cheat sheet with product reviews you can read Kathy’s SafeMama’s […]

  10. This is a great list as I am currently pregnant and just hiding in my house! I will have to look into some of these options since I don’t want to hibernate forever! 😉
    Amy recently posted..Husband approved meatless meal! Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers with Homemade TzazikiMy Profile

  11. Hi Amy, I know it can be pretty overwhelming. No hiding allowed! Just pick one and give it a shot. Best of luck with the pregnancy! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Perfect timing! I am currently shopping for the best non-whitening sunscreen that is safe and non-toxic, so your recommendations come in handy. I have had some really bad experiences with sunscreens that leave a grayish coating on my face which is not a flattering look to say the least. On top of that, they did not do the job! I am leaning toward the Honest Sunscreen.
    Deborah Davis recently posted..Recharge with a Dandelion, Strawberry, Mango Detox SmoothieMy Profile

  13. Thanks for this very helpful review! I have a darker complexion, but while the kids won’t notice (or care) about their ghosting, I do get self-conscious.
    I have referenced the EWG & SafeMama lists, but being an admittedly lazy dad, I also look for whatever’s immediately available locally.
    Last year I used Ocean Potion “Face Potion”: about $4 for only one measly ounce of lightweight paste, but once it’s rubbed in, it really is invisible.
    I also used Banana Boat “Natural Reflect”: about $12 for 4oz. of lotion that takes a few minutes to set, then is also invisible; unfortunately, in water, some whitening might occur (which also may be more apparent just because it’s being applied over larger areas).
    I’ll check out the rest of your recommendations.

  14. Hi Reg, Let me know which one you decide to use. There are some good choices on the list for all different price points.

  15. I haven’t tried any of these yet, but in looking around found Honest Sunscreen at a much cheaper price. It is available on their website for $13.95. Your Amazon link sells it for $22.47 + $3.99 shipping/handling.


  16. […] volume ratio is so great that the actual properties of the substance may change. Our friend Lori at Groovy Green Livin summarizes this in her article […]

  17. […] shared my favorite safe non-whitening sunscreens this year and one of the brands will be included in the camp duffle bags. Episencial Sunny Screen […]

  18. […] It’s well established that using sunscreen can help reduce the risk of skin cancer, and painful sunburns! Unfortunately conventional sunscreens can contain chemicals that aren’t good for our health. Here are two resources for finding safer sunscreens for your family: 2013 safer sunscreen guide and the best non-whitening sunscreens. […]

  19. Happy to see that Butterbean sunscreen made the list! love the ingredients & how water resistant their sunscreens are. They also have a sunscreen lotion that is great for use on the body. And they’ve added a sunscreen stick this year as well.

  20. […] I buy a few of my favorite safe brands and let them pick. All three of my kids will only wear sunscreens that don’t make them turn pasty white when applied. This year I added a few sunscreen sticks into the mix and they were […]

  21. […] might also like posts from Groovy Green Livin’ and Mindful Momma on their best non-whitening and non-toxic […]

  22. […] investigated, why risk exposing your children to inhalation of harmful chemicals? Switch to a safe, non-toxic sunscreen, or a non-whitening sunscreen and have a fantastic […]

  23. I like the idea of butter bean sunscreen. It doesn’t have a fragrance. Whenever I put on sunscreen I hate the smell. If this is a healthy sunscreen with no fragrance then I might look more into it.

  24. Hi Johnny, I haven’t used this brand in quite some time so I don’t remember if it had a scent. Maybe touch base with the company for more information?

  25. […] our sunscreen of choice for camp this summer. The ingredients are safe and it doesn’t go on thick and white. In addition to the regular tube of sunscreen is also comes in a pump bottle and a spray bottle. […]

  26. […] spray sunscreens when you can, or apply them carefully. I try to find a sunscreen that works and doesn’t leave a thick, white film on my skin. Thankfully there are some good nano-free options without the white film. Here are a […]

  27. […] decided to rally the troops for a  hike up a spectacular mountain in Maine. We slathered on the sunscreen and piled in the car. This particular mountain was about 45 minutes away from our vacation spot, in […]

  28. […] been pretty obsessed with not looking like Caspar on the beach and last year put together a list of sunscreens that don’t leave  a white residue. The active ingredient is Zinc Oxide 22.5% (Non-nanoparticle). It’s also not greasy and easy […]

  29. […] Best Non-Whitening Safe Sunscreens | Older Newer | Non-Toxic Summer Camp Supplies → June 7th, […]

  30. […] Sunscreen has become an integral part of my daily skin care regiment and here’s why….. […]

  31. […] our sunscreen of choice for camp this summer. The ingredients are safe and it doesn’t go on thick and white. In addition to the regular tube of sunscreen, it also comes in a pump bottle and a spray […]

  32. […] from the sun’s harmful rays. Find a safe, non-toxic sunscreen (don’t use a spray) and apply it every morning before you head […]

  33. […] safer sunscreens. I’ve even put together a list of sunscreens that don’t leave a film of white paste behind. The good news is that there are plenty of safer sunscreens to choose from. But they’re […]

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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