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The 15 Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreens, According to a Dermatologist

These lightweight, expert-recommended picks won't leave a white cast on your skin.

best zinc oxide sunscreen
Oars + Alps

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you at this point that you need to wear sunscreen when you're outside. Not only does it prevent you from getting a sunburn, but sunscreen can also hold off premature aging caused by UV rays and, most importantly, prevent skin cancer. Men of all ages, and young men in particular, are at a high risk of both contracting and dying from skin cancer, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), sunscreen is the best tool we have in the fight against it. So before you head outside for your first shirtless run of the season, make sure your back is (literally) covered.

You may have noticed that there’s a lot of conversation about chemical versus mineral sunscreens right now. Chemical sunscreens use chemicals that sink into your skin to absorb and disperse harmful UV rays, while mineral sunscreens use ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically reflect rays away from your skin. For the record, whether these chemical sunscreens are harmful to our bodies is still being investigated (though we do know some of them are harmful to coral reefs and marine life).

The word “chemical” may sound scary and you could assume that zinc oxide sunscreen is better, but that’s not necessarily the case, says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research, Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai in New York City. “The best sunscreen is the one that you are actually putting on your skin,” he says. “If it’s not on your skin, it won’t protect you.” Generally, for adequate protection, the AAD recommends a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and is labeled broad spectrum (which means it protects against both UVA and UVB light). Anything above that is “personal preference,” says Dr. Zeichner.

While both chemical and mineral sunscreens are effective, there may be a reason to choose one over the other. Mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide are ideal for people with sensitive skin or conditions, like rosacea or eczema, because “they’re less likely to cause irritation,” according to Dr. Zeichner. He also recommends wearing a zinc oxide sunscreen under a face mask, because the zinc forms a physical barrier on the skin and it can offer additional protection against potential irritation.

The downside of mineral sunscreens, most of which use zinc oxide, is that because they form a physical barrier, some can leave your skin looking chalky, greasy, or grayish white—or at least, that used to be the case. Now, there are plenty of dermatologist-recommended sunscreens with zinc that give you mineral protection without the side effects. Here are the 15 best zinc oxide sunscreens to use this summer, including options with titanium dioxide.

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Dr. Dennis Gross Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
sephora.com
$42.00

The zinc particles in this daily facial sunscreen not only protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, but supposedly from blue light from screens as well. What makes it a great daily mineral sunscreen with zinc, however, is that it’s oil-free and lightweight, and miraculously blends into even darker skin tones with no white cast.

Bliss Block Star Sunscreen
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
blissworld.com
$22.00

Dr. Zeichner recommends this daily mineral sunscreen with zinc for your face because it’s non comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog your pores and cause breakouts). The star zinc oxide in this sunscreen is combined with titanium dioxide to give your skin broad spectrum protection.

Oars and Alps 100% Mineral Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer with SPF 30
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
oarsandalps.com
$22.00

Dr. Zeichner recommends looking for a facial sunscreen that has additional skincare ingredients in it to get more bang for your buck. Case in point, this mineral sunscreen has the requisite zinc oxide for protection, as well as hyaluronic acid for hydration and antioxidants vitamins E and B5 for anti-aging benefits.

Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense Sunscreen SPF 30
sephora.com
$45.00

Buy this one for the zinc oxide sunscreen that rubs in clear without a greasy or white residue, but keep using it for the antioxidant benefits, like sebum-reducing green tea and the redness and irritation-reducing mushroom complex (not to mention a healthy dose of hydrating hyaluronic acid).

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
$16.99

The big criticism of mineral sunscreens, for both face and body, is that they can be hard to rub in and can leave a weird-looking and uncomfortable cast on your skin. This genius lotion rubs in completely clear to avoid that ghost vibe, but still offers the physical protection you need from an effective sunscreen with zinc oxide.

Get Mr. The Daily Sunscreen
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
getmr.com
$24.49

Dermatologists like Dr. Zeichner often recommend sunscreen as the final step in your skincare routine to make sure you get adequate protection (many moisturizers with SPF don’t contain a high enough amount). But if you’re not into the idea of layers of product, this moisturizer-sunscreen combo has the SPF you need, as well as niacinamide and antioxidants to keep skin healthy.

Sun Bum Sun Bum Mineral Spf 50 Sunscreen Spray
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
toner
$12.98

You’ll often see mineral sunscreens in lotion form, but lots of people like sprays because they’re easy to apply. This one is the best of both worlds—zinc oxide mineral protection from UV rays in an easy-to-use spray formula. Just remember that even if you use a zinc oxide sunscreen spray, you still have to make sure to rub it in to avoid missing spots, says Dr. Zeichner.

Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
toner
$36.00
$29.60 (18% off)

This dermatologist-recommended sunscreen with zinc is a go-to for thousands of experts because it checks all the boxes: a non-greasy mineral screen that’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin. Like your favorite moisturizer, it’s also packed with antioxidants and niacinamide to help with overall skin health. Plus, this sunscreen comes in tinted and non-tinted formulas, depending on your preference.

Unsun Everyday Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
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unsuncosmetics.com
$15.99

A combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide broad spectrum sun protection in this sunscreen formula that’s specifically designed for and by people with dark skin tones. There is a slight tint to it, which makes it easier to run into skin and won’t leave any sort of film or cast on even the darkest tones.

Eleven by Venus Unrivaled SPF 35 Mineral Sunscreen Serum
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
$50.00

For the record, dermatologists like Dr. Zeichner recommend reapplying sunscreen every two hours, but who among us actually does that? This innovative stick formula is completely clear, yet still utilizes zinc oxide protection, and makes it easy to quickly swipe over your face, ears, nose, neck, and anywhere else you need to re-up your SPF factor before going outside.

Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 30
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
toner
$24.99
$19.99 (20% off)

Sun protection is important for literally everyone, but if you have tattoos, it’s especially essential. Nothing fades tattoo ink faster than unprotected sun exposure. This mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide is tailor-made for tattoos because it also includes skin hydrating and protecting ingredients, like aloe vera, argan oil, and cocoa butter, so your ink stays looking its best in and out of the sun.

Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion SPF 70
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
toner
$15.99

Anyone who burns easily or has fair skin knows that the higher the SPF, the harder it is to rub into your skin, especially when you’re using a mineral sunscreen. This zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreen formula is thicker than others, so be prepared for some white cast. However, if you want strong protection, you’ll be hard to fine a lotion that’s more comfortable to wear.

Saie Sunvisor Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 35
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
sephora.com
$34.00

One of the best ways to avoid the dreaded white cast that can come with so many mineral sunscreens is to choose one that has a slight tint to it. This super-moisturizing formula can potentially take the place of a moisturizer if you don’t have especially dry skin, and the tint leaves no trace of white once it’s rubbed in.

Coppertone Pure Simple Mineral SPF 50
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
toner
$9.98

People with sensitive skin might want to stay away from chemical sunscreens to minimize the risk of irritation or reaction, which for the record, could come from other ingredients as well, not just the sunscreens. This 100% mineral formula is free from chemical, as well as other potentially-irritating dyes, alcohols, and fragrances.

Supergoop Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30
Photos Courtesy of Retailers
sephora.com
$38.00

There are a lot of reasons to love this daily facial sunscreen—moisturizing benefits from squalene and aloe, the broad spectrum sun protection that zinc oxide provides—but the best part is the whipped texture that’s lightweight on your face and rubs into skin invisibly.

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