Best Mineral Sunscreens of 2024

Many people prefer to use mineral sunscreens instead of chemical ones for safety and environmental reasons.

In 2019 the FDA called on sunscreen manufacturers to provide more safety data on the chemical active ingredients. The agency said it was satisfied with the information it had on titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The issue with the chemical active ingredients is that two FDA studies showed they can get into the bloodstream through the skin. This led to concerns that they weren’t safe to use. But the FDA and many dermatologists say that’s not the case and that people should continue to use sunscreen.

Mineral sunscreens are also thought to be less harmful to coral reefs and other ocean life compared with chemical ones. That’s a major reason the better mineral sunscreens in our tests get CR’s Green Choice designation, highlighted with a green leaf icon in our ratings. Some people also find that chemical sunscreens irritate their skin.

Given all these unresolved issues, why not just opt for mineral sunscreens?

According to CR’s sunscreen tests, mineral sunscreens simply don’t provide the same level of sun protection as many (but not all) chemical ones do.

“None of the mineral-only or mineral-plus-chemical products in our current crop of sunscreens were highly rated,” says Susan Booth, who leads Consumer Reports’ sunscreen testing. “In fact, CR’s testing has never found a mineral sunscreen that came in at the top of the ratings. Most of them hover in the middle of the pack, or even lower.” Some mineral sunscreens provide adequate SPF protection but not enough broad-spectrum protection, or vice versa. All of the sunscreens CR recommends have chemical active ingredients.