5 Clean Sunscreens I Swear By

Five different facial sunscreen moisturisers laid side-by-side

Natural sunscreen can be hard to find, yet it’s an essential summer beauty product, and one I always keep handy. Over the years, I’ve tried my fair share of natural SPF products, but it’s these five that I’m currently touting as the best options around.

In this post, I’m going to give you a little review of each, and I’m also going to take you through a brief education of what SPF means (and how this isn’t the only thing to look for when buying sunscreen).

Plus, there’s one or two on this list that are getting more eco when it comes to their packaging too!

Why we should all wear sunscreen…

Keeping my skin safe while under the sun’s powerful UVA and UVB rays is something I’m really hot on, especially for my face. When I was in my teens, I burnt my cheeks, and I’m pretty sure it’s what’s led to my skin having a reddy pigment that I try my best to conceal.

Now I’m in my 20’s, I’m a little less cavalier with sun protection. Whenever I know I’m going to be outdoors for longer than a 10 minute stroll, I’ll be sure to apply a good natural SPF moisturiser. And that includes the cloudy days!

SPF: not the only thing to look for

Although SPF is becoming a word we use for sunscreen, it’s not a clean swap. Just like not all vacuum cleaners are Hoovers, SPF doesn’t represent full-spectrum sun protection.

SPF only relates to protection from UVB rays. In my post all about the facts of sunscreen, I explained how SPF (sun protection factor) is: a figure that is associated with how well sunscreen blocks UVB rays, and UVB alone.

There’s a reason why it’s the main rating though. UVB rays are considered the most harmful – they penetrate the upper layers of the skin, and are what causes sunburn and redness.

Obviously, we need to think about UVA protection too. UVA rays are the ones that penetrate more deeply into the skin, causing skin to age more quickly and create wrinkles. (Both UVA and UVB rays are linked to eye damage and skin cancer, so make sure to protect yourself).

Interestingly, UVA protection has its own rating system, but it’s less well-known. For your sunscreen, make sure to look for the UVA Logo, which shows it provides SPF 10+ for UVA.

SPF: not that easy to understand, either

The other misnomer around SPF ratings is that the higher the number, the better the protection is on a proportionate scale. This isn’t the case.

To break it down simply:

  • SPF 10 blocks 90% of UVB rays
  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
  • SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays

Personally, I use SPF 15 and above, choosing SPF 30 on days with direct sunlight or more exposure than usual (such as swimming on holiday).

When it comes to natural suncare, sadly there’s still some catching up to do. While it’s great to see so many natural beauty brands popping up, sun protection is still missing in many ranges – purely because it’s a lot harder to do. Sun cream lies between cosmetics and medicinal products, and it needs to go through rigorous testing before it can receive its SPF ratings.

That being said, here’s what I’m slapping on this summer…

My 5 Favourite Natural Sunscreens

Arbonne: Prepwork Tinted Moisturiser

Arbonne Prepwork Tinted Moisturiser laid flat

SPF? 25
UVA Protection Certified? Yes

First on my list is Arbonne’s Tinted Moisturiser. I was gifted this a little while ago, and I’m sad to say that this little tube is now down to its final dregs – I use it a lot, as it’s one of the only natural tinted SPF moisturisers I’ve been able to find!

While Arbonne isn’t one of my go-to natural beauty brands, they’ve been cruelty-free since their creation, and this particular formula is vegan too. Sadly it does contain palm oil, so if you’re avoiding that, stay away.

The moisturiser itself only takes a small amount to cover my entire face. I will normally get a pea-sized amount, rub it between my fingers and apply to my face. It quickly evens out my skin-tone, and provide that crucial sun protection.

Balance Me: Natural Protection Moisturiser

Balance Me Natural Protection Moisturiser SPF 25 laid flat

SPF? 25
UVA Protection Certified? Yes

I’ve been using Balance Me’s SPF moisturiser* since 2017 (in fact, it was so good, it inspired my first sun care round-up).

Balance Me are great when it comes to intensely moisturising products, and this one is similar. Like any sun cream, it takes a little longer to absorb, but it’s actually one of the best in terms of how easy it is to apply, and it keeps my skin dewy throughout the day.

I tend to apply this as the first step of my beauty routine, leave it to dry for a few minutes, and then apply a light layer of foundation over the top.

Freshly Cosmetics Facial Sun Cream

Freshly Cosmetics Facial Sun Cream SPF 50 laid flat

SPF? 50
UVA Protection Certified? Yes

Freshly Cosmetics is a new brand to me, and this is my first try of their products. I was kindly gifted their Healthy Protection Pack, which came with a facial moisturiser with SPF and a sunscreen for my body.

Both are interesting in that they’re pink. Yes, a nice light pink colour! I was surprised when I first pumped out a little bit of the moisturiser, but in fact it makes no difference when it’s fully absorbed.

As the moisturiser with the highest SPF rating on this list, it’s great to see there’s no sacrifice elsewhere: it absorbs quickly and easily, it’s cruelty-free, and their bottles are made of metal! Love love love.

Green People Sunscreen

Green People Facial Sunscreen SPF 30 laid flat

SPF? 30
UVA Protection Certified? Yes

Green People’s sun care range* has been a solid favourite of mine for years now. Their SPF 15 and SPF 30 body suncreams are travel essentials for me, and it’s nice to see they’ve condensed this down into a more delicate SPF facial moisturiser too.

The moisturiser is a quintessential facial sunscreen – a little more tacky than normal, but it absorbs quickly, and keeps my skin protected without causing any reaction or spots.

I was fortunate enough to meet with the Green People team recently, and was gifted their new bottles to try. Made from bioplastics derived from sugar cane, it’s clear they’re doing all they can to stay away from the petrol industry!

Sadly, their packaging still is plastic, which they insist is unavoidable.

On the upside, they are donating a small amount to Marine Conservation Society for every purchase made though, and their bestsellers are also reef safe, meaning that run-off when swimming in the sea won’t hurt any marine wildlife.

REN Skincare Clean Screen Mineral

REN Skincare Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 laid flat

SPF? 30
UVA Protection Certified? Yes

Last on my list is REN Skincare’s Mineral Sunscreen*. This final review was a bit of a rollercoaster to write, as I was surprised to see the UVA logo missing from both their website, the box, and the tube itself… but after contacting REN directly, I’m pleased to say they do have a UVA rating, and it will be present on all products moving forwards.

I was gifted this product to review, and let’s be honest, it’s the most eye-catching on the list. The bright yellow just makes me think of summer!

I also love how REN Skincare has really worked hard in creating a recycled and recyclable packaging – the cap is made from 100% post-consumer plastic, and is recyclable, while the tube is 50% and can be recycled at select recycling centres.

The moisturiser itself is easily spreadable, quickly absorbed, and has a light, clean fragrance. Now that I know it’s UVA-safe too, it’s a firm favourite for this summer’s sunshine.

Shop the post

Green People SPF Moisturiser
Balance Me SPF Moisturiser
Freshly Naturals Facial Sunscreen
Arbonne Tinted SPF Moisturiser
REN Skincare SPF Moisturiser
Green People SPF Moisturiser
Balance Me SPF Moisturiser
Freshly Naturals Facial Sunscreen
Arbonne Tinted SPF Moisturiser
REN Skincare SPF Moisturiser
Green People SPF Moisturiser
Balance Me SPF Moisturiser
Freshly Naturals Facial Sunscreen
Arbonne Tinted SPF Moisturiser
REN Skincare SPF Moisturiser

This post contains affiliate links (denoted with '*') and gifted products (denoted with 'gifted')

12 Comments

  1. Stephanie Hayes
    July 17, 2019 / 4:51 am

    Hi! Nice post. You mentioned that Arbonne was not palm oil free. Am I to assume the others are since no other mention was made? Also, have you tried Kimberly Slayer sunscreen? I received a small sample and really liked it, but I did not examine it in the detail you have here.

    • besma
      Author
      July 17, 2019 / 12:23 pm

      Thanks Stephanie – and great question. From looking over the formula of each sunscreen:

      Arbonne’s Prepwork contains ethylhexyl palmitate and lots of palm-oil derived ingredients
      Balance Me’s SPF Moisturiser contains stearic acid, which could be derived from palm oil, but it’s not clear
      Freshly Naturals’ Facial Sun Cream contains stearic acid, which could be derived from palm oil, but it’s not clear
      Green People’s Sunscreen contains fairly-traded, organic palm oil
      REN Skincare’s Clean Screen contains isostearic acid, as well as hydrogenated palm glycerides citrate

      So it seems that they could all contain some form of palm oil, some more explicit than others. If you’re avoiding palm oil, I’d recommend getting in touch with Balance Me or Freshly Naturals to ask them for clarity, and also follow Selva Beat, a brilliant palm-free beauty zine!

      B x

      P.S. I’d love to hear how you get on with the K.S. sunscreen – not one I’ve tried!

  2. Nik
    July 14, 2019 / 3:31 am

    Hi there! This is a very informative post, but I noticed this part in your review: “The moisturiser itself only takes a small amount to cover my entire face. I will normally get a pea-sized amount, rub it between my fingers and apply to my face. It quickly evens out my skin-tone, and provide that crucial sun protection.”

    Not sure if you are aware, but that pea sized amount probably won’t give you your full SPF25 protection at all. You need at least one full teaspoon of sunscreen on your face to get that kind of protection, and that’s why tinted moisturisers aren’t a very effective form of sunscreen. It wouldn’t look very nice to have a whole teaspoon of that tint on your face!

    • besma
      Author
      July 15, 2019 / 10:02 am

      Hi Nik, thanks for letting me know. I tend to apply the SPF moisturisers a little thicker than regular moisturiser, and leave to sink into my skin before applying makeup, but I’m not applying anywhere near a teaspoonful each time! Is there a guide to this that I could update and share in the post?

      B x

  3. Mary
    July 13, 2019 / 11:48 am

    Hi Besma,

    I am a bit confused. Arbonne is not natural, I think. I looked at the ingredients list and there are several types of silicone and also phenoxyethanol in there. So I personally would not label this as “natural” at all. Maybe I misunderstood something, though.

    • besma
      Author
      July 15, 2019 / 10:05 am

      Hi Mary,

      Arbonne certainly isn’t the cleanest or most natural moisturiser, I agree. It’s why I said “While Arbonne isn’t one of my go-to natural beauty brands, they’ve been cruelty-free since their creation, and this particular formula is vegan too.” So at least they’re vegan and cruelty-free, but yes – not as natural as some of the others in the list.

      B x

  4. July 12, 2019 / 3:46 pm

    Really like your post. I’ve been using Madara’s Sunscreen this summer – like I love Madara, this product is so-so I must say. However, would you know what tests such brands as you mentioned need to go through to prove that they actually do protect the skin please? thank you 🙂

  5. July 9, 2019 / 7:59 pm

    Greetings, your post here was really good. I did have a question though I think you could answer. Do you know of any organic cleaners that don’t use vinegar? My wife likes to put vinegar in the cleaner she makes but I can’t stand the smell. Thanks for the post, and I look forward to seeing your reply.

    • besma
      Author
      July 9, 2019 / 9:44 pm

      Hi Chester, thanks for the message. While a little different to sunscreens, I think I can help! I’ll be posting about eco-friendly cleaning products very soon, so keep an eye out for that. If your wife would prefer a DIY recipe, try swapping the vinegar for rubbing alcohol or surgical spirit. I hope that helps!

      B x

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