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Discovered: Safe and Effective Sunscreens

Woman with mineral sunscreen on beach
May 18, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 8 Comments

I have decided to raise the bar and focus on discovering sunscreens that really feature antioxidants — and I mean much more than a token dash of argan oil. An American Academy of Dermatology study noted that sunscreens are providing ‘passive’ protection by absorbing or reflecting harmful UV rays from the skin. But by adding antioxidants to sunscreens, they could offer a second, ‘active’ level of protection. I am also persuaded by the University of California, Riverside, in that certain sunscreen ingredients may cause more free radicals to form than no sunscreen at all. Therefore, antioxidants that combat free radicals do much more than augment your sunscreen — they make it safer.

With this in mind, I found some new sunscreens with potential for testing and will share these, along with my rejects.

Selected for testing

Kari Gran Three Sixty Five SPF 28 ($48)
This looks really nice. The sunscreen active is non-nano zinc oxide at 17% in a nourishing potion of antioxidant oils including raspberry, macadamia, plum and avocado. One user raves, “I seriously look forward to putting this on my face every day. The best sun protection I've ever used.” Convincing.

Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36)
We reviewed this some years ago and it seems time to revisit. The formula bolsters its zinc oxide with ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicine. Essential oil of rose (where the product draws its name) is not only an antioxidant, but also masks the sunscreen active’s chalky smell.

Consonant Skincare The Perfect Sunscreen SPF 30 ($45)
I found this a while ago, but never got around to testing whether it lives up to its name.  It looks promising with plenty of natural extracts, including antioxidants seabuckthorn and turmeric.

Releve Sun-Lite™ Moisturizing Organic Sunscreen ($29.99)
Apart from zinc oxide, the key ingredient is aloe, known for its sun protecting properties as well as moisturizing abilities. Moisture-retaining phospholipids come from sunflower seeds, plus there’s a special kind of antioxidant pine extract.

True Natural Active 30 ($27.50)
With zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, it punches way above its drugstore persona with the super powerful antioxidant astaxanthin. It’s thought to be up to 500 times stronger than vitamin E.

IT Cosmetics Anti-Aging Armour Super Smart Skin-Perfecting Beauty Fluid SPF 50+ ($38)
This is more of a BB cream with a slew of anti-aging ingredients, including peptides and antioxidants. It isn’t for purists with its silicones and PEGs. Retinyl palmitate is a poor choice (although way down the ingredients list) for daytime. However, the good far outweighs the bad with pomegranate oil, niacinamide, Matrixyl 3000, perflurodecalin and much more.


Erbaviva Sunscreen SPF 30 ($23)
This was almost selected for testing, as the ingredients are nice and aloe vera has some antioxidant properties, but ultimately this really doesn’t have the antioxidant power that I am looking for.

ClarityRX Skin Defense Environmental Protection SPF 30 ($32)
Much as I love some of ClarityRX’s products, this sunscreen is not going to join their ranks. It has the chemical sunscreen sunscreens with octinoxate and talc. It has aloe and vitamin E, but isn’t an appealing formula otherwise.

Farmacy Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen with Echinacea GreenEnvy ($36)
It includes marigold, chokeberry and Echinacea, but most of the rest of the ingredients I pass on, such as PEGs, tons of silicone and harsh preservatives. 

Coola SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish ($36)
Coola has cleaned up its act in recent years and this mineral sunscreen isn’t too bad with rosehip and plankton. The formula is uninspiring, though, and I don’t like inclusion of aluminum hydroxide and propylene carbonate.

VivierSkin Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($45)
I’m surprised anyone still makes products like this. It has controversial chemical sunscreens, even more controversial parabens and BHT. Plus, there are no saving graces ingredient-wise whatsoever.

DCL Antioxidant Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($48)
I had hopes for this one given the name. It turns out, however, that the antioxidant is a rather lonely looking dab of argan oil adrift in a sea of chemicals.

Do you have a favorite sunscreen you would like me to review? Let me know in the comments below!


  • June 6, 2017

    by Marta

    Hi Crystal
    So I have a self-imposed guideline to pass on brands that don't publish all their ingredients on their websites. Companies that are truly proud of their formulas publish them for all the world see. If they don't what have they got to hide. I can't see Image Skincare's - if I missed them do send a link.

  • June 6, 2017

    by Crystal

    What do you think of Image Skincare's line up of SPF products? The SPF 50 has antioxidants and has a pleasant smell and feels great on the skin.

  • May 22, 2017

    by Barbara

    Hi Marta,
    What do you think of Epionce Daily Shield Lotion Tinted SPF 50? I have been using this for the last 2 weeks and love it!

  • May 22, 2017

    by Marta

    Hi Jess
    We have reviewed Badger in the past but found it too chalky and hard to rinse off.

  • May 19, 2017

    by Jess

    This list of approved SPF'S are fine but what about a cheaper alternative that basically does the same job - give or take a few different ingredients.

    Badger balm SPF unscented has an awesome list of ingredients, but does leave a white film that is relatively easy to blot off the skin.

    For those who hate having to waste time clearing up the white chalk (lol) there's also Loving Naturals Clear SPF. The ingredients are also great and great part is it goes on white and dries completely clear - no work required.

    I don't understand why the only sunscreens are expensive ones when there are cheaper alternatives that can rank right up there as well.

  • May 18, 2017

    by Ana

    I would like you to check out La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 (Broad Spectrum SPF 60) Melt In Sunscreen Cell-Ox Shield XL (Advanced UVA/UVB technology + Antioxidant protection) . I have used it and it has been very effective not only for the body, but for the face/neck/decolleté also, and it says that it is formulated for both.
    Thanks a million...

  • May 18, 2017

    by Jennifer

    Do you still like Devita?

  • May 18, 2017

    by Shalini

    What do you think about the Drunk Elephant sunscreen!?

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