For years, mineral sunscreens were known for their less-than-desirable chalky appearance on the noses of lifeguards and serious outdoorsmen. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which use a combination of carbon compounds to absorb active UV rays and release them, physical sunscreens use minerals ground down to fine powders to reflect the sun’s harmful rays. While chemical sunscreens apply easily and disappear from sight almost instantly, nearly half of the products you’ll encounter contain harmful active ingredients like oxybenzone, which studies indicate may trigger allergic reactions, disrupt hormone functions, and contribute to the deterioration of coral reefs (it’s one of the reasons chemical sunscreens are part of The 8 Most Toxic Things On Drugstore Shelves). Mineral sunscreens are a natural alternative that accomplish their protective work on top of the skin and have the added bonus of being effective immediately after they’re applied between your body and the sun.
Here are five all-star mineral sunscreens—formulated with organic ingredients—which can defend you from the sun without visibly announcing your safe and eco-friendly skincare habits to the world.
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