Four Mineral Sunscreens, Compared

Saturday, March 16, 2019

I have four sunscreens in my possession, and thought I'd compare them in case you also gravitate towards zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens. The ones I'd like to chat about are EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41, Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50, Farmacy Green Screen SPF 30,  and Trader Joe's Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50. 

The EltaMD SPF 41 UV Physical is the thickest of the four and the most plentiful at 3 oz. The consistency is that of a proper cream, and if you look closely you can make out the pigment swirled throughout the base. Over most skincare it does not pill, but there was a couple occasions when I had oilier skincare courtesy of a balm and it did pill up over that. This is tinted and the color of the cream is darker than my skin, but the tint is only to offset the prominent white cast that this product has. Once patted in, it's pretty close to my skin tone and has a light velvety feel.

This is one I like not only on my face, but also on d├ęcolletage and body. EltaMD SPF41 is $30, but Dermstore has sales all the time so it's easily obtained for less.

Zinc Oxide 9.0%, Titanium Dioxide 7.0%

Alumina, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Iron Oxide, Isopropyl Palmitate, Lecithin, Linoleic Acid, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Octyl Stearate, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Perfluorononyl Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylate 13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Purified Water, Quercetin, Sodium Hydroxide, Thioctic Acid (Alpha Lipoic Acid), Triethoxycaprylylsilane

I came into a deluxe sample of Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF 50 Total Protection Face Shield by way of the Dermstore x Target skincare set. I had no expectations, but I ended up liking this sunscreen quite a bit. It resembles liquid foundation; thin and runny. Easy to apply it, it sets into the skin with a nice finish that isn't quite "naked" but is easy to ignore. Dries to a satin, closer to matte finish. This one was the most forgiving for the oily parts of my face, so if your skin is oily I'd look to this one first out of the four. Also tinted to offset the white cast.

It's $39 for 1.8 oz and also available from Dermstore. Sadly, it's often exempt from sales.


Zinc Oxide, 12%
Water, Butyloctyl Salicylate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isododecane, Lauryl PEG-8 Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Niacinamide, Caprylyl Methicone, Dimethiconol/Propylsilsesquioxane/Silicate Crosspolymer, Trilaureth-4 Phosphate, Allantoin, Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract, Bisabolol, Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates, Caesalpinia Spinosa Fruit Pod Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Sprout Extract, Glycerin, Tocopherol, Lauryl PEG-10 Tris(trimethylsiloxy)silylethyl Dimethicone, Maltodextrin, Sodium Chloride, Ethylhexylglycerin, Isoceteth-10, Silica, Betaine, Capryl Glycol, Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol, Hexylene Glycol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, PEG-10, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).


I had really hoped this Trader Joe's SPF 50 zinc oxide stick would be a good find. It's made in-state so it's technically a local product, a route I like to take when possible. It's $5.99 for 15g which sounds it's not very much product at all, but I was paying $35 for 40g of sunscreen all the way from Thailand, in comparison the TJ stick is a good value. When people don't like sunscreens, it's often because they're heavy, slow to absorb, and so very greasy feeling.  Sadly, the stick sunscreen from the house of Joe embodies all of these qualities.  I would not recommend this to anyone, I think most people will find it objectionable. It coats the skin and feels absolutely miserable. 


Zinc Oxide 22.0% 
Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Beeswax, Bisabolol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Octyldodecanol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Tocopheryl Acetate.

Finally we have Farmacy Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector SPF 30.  Out of the four, this is one that feels the most like skincare but also has the lowest SPF. It is lotion like in feel and for me, the easiest out of the four to wear under makeup. Slight violet cast upon application. It has a dewey finish. I like this for weekday protection, but when we go hiking or head towards the beach on weekends, I'll reach for something with higher SPF.

At $36 on the Farmacy website and at Sephora, it's a great contender for a sunscreen I'd pick up on sale.

Titanium Dioxide 2.40%, Zinc Oxide 5.82% 
Water (Aqua), Ethyl Macadamiate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Propanediol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Polysorbate 80, Glyceryl Stearate, Peg-100 Stearate, Echinacea Purpurea Root Extract, Aronia Melanocarpa Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Verbascum Thapsus Flower, Tagetes Erecta Flower Extract, Alteromonas Ferment Extract, 7-dehydrocholesterol, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Malic Acid, Tocopherol, Myristic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Panthenol, Stearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-6 Isostearate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Alumina, Behenic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Methicone, Dimethicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, Isohexadecane, Triethoxysilylethyl Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Hexyl Dimethicone, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, 1,2-hexanediol, Behenyl Alcohol, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Cellulose Gum, Sorbitan Oleate, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Phytate.

Left to right: EltaMD SPF 41, Colorscience Sunforgettable SPF 50, Trader Joe's SPF 50, Farmacy Green Screen SPF 30
Same order, after being patted in.

Aside from the monstrosity of a sunscreen stick from Trader Joe's, I like these sun protection products. They're a far cry from what was available ten years ago - these feel so much better on the skin, and I'm much more likely to wear them consistently when they don't feel like a layer of greasiness just waiting to slide off my face.

Are you a fan of sunscreens that use zinc or titanium oxides to provide sun protection?

Products featured were purchased by me. Post contains affiliate links. For additional information, please refer to my Disclosure Policy. 

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