Physical sunscreens are one of the best ways to protect yourself against sun damage. Also known as mineral sunscreens, they sit on top of the skin to create a barrier to reflect the sun's UV rays and prevent them from penetrating the skin. A good physical sunscreen can help lower the risk of skin cancer and prevent wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
With so many great options on the market, it can be hard to pick the right one for you. But we're here to help you with our buying guide, reviewed by dermatologist Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz, which lays out all the factors to consider when getting a physical sunscreen. We've also created a list of the 10 best products that are worth checking out.
Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila. She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
Our recommendation articles are carefully researched and crafted by the mybest Philippines team of writers and editors. To stay true to our company’s mission and vision to help users’ selection process easier, we also collaborate with experts from various fields to ensure that our content stays factual and useful.
Buying guides reviewed by featured experts.
Products or services listed have been independently ranked by the mybest Editorial Team based on the points mentioned in our thoroughly researched buying guide as of 01-16-2023. Experts featured in this article did not participate in the selection and ranking process.
Here are some key points to consider:
For more detailed information, read through our buying guide below.
Physical sunscreens have titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as their active ingredients. These are natural minerals that settle on top of the skin and block the sun’s harmful UVB and UVA rays from being absorbed into your skin. Read on to know more about each one.
Titanium dioxide is a great ingredient to prevent sunburns because it has a broad-spectrum UV filter that blocks and deflects UVB and short UVA rays. It is ground into small particles to a powder-like finish to make it more effective in deflecting UVB.
However, grinding it into smaller particles decreases its effectiveness in blocking UVA rays, which could cause wrinkling and premature skin aging. So, it is best to partner it with zinc oxide for better sun protection.
Titanium dioxide is a great ingredient for physical sunscreens as it provides effective coverage for UVB and UVA2 and minimal coverage for UVA1.
One of the drawbacks of titanium dioxide is its tendency to leave a white cast. This, however, has been addressed with the introduction of nanoparticle titanium dioxide, which studies have been showing to have a good safety profile.
Zinc oxide uses a maximum of 25% concentration when combined into sunscreen formulations. It is photostable, resistant to radiant energy, and fit for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It reduces sun damage to the skin by blocking UVB and UVA rays.
Aside from that, it's resistant to water and doesn't wear off easily, even when you sweat. Similar to titanium dioxide, it leaves a white cast after application.
Zinc oxide is another ingredient in physical sunscreens that provides broad spectrum protection. However, just like titanium dioxide, it tends to be less cosmetically elegant.
Fun fact! In sunscreens, zinc oxide is effective in providing sun protection. However, it is also used in other skincare products as a skin protectant.
Aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate are ingredients that are effective in blocking UV rays and reducing skin discoloration. However, they are tagged by the FDA as possible irritants that could cause reactions like rashes, itching, and skin swelling. To be safe, read the ingredient list to make sure that the product contains none of these irritants.
Fun Fact! Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), one of the aminobenzoates, has been removed from a lot of sunscreens as it has been identified as one of the most common photoallergens and/or contact allergens.
Sunscreens provide a sun protection factor (SPF) that protects the skin from sunburn caused by solar radiation. The higher the SPF level, the better protection it has from UVB. The least amount of SPF needed to prevent sunburn is SPF 30.
However, SPF levels, regardless of how high they are, only block UVB rays. For extra skin protection from UVA, opt for a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum coverage. Some brands indicate their UVA protection through a PA rating. As with SPF, the higher the PA rating, the more capable the product is of blocking UVA rays.
As mentioned earlier, the two main active ingredients in physical sunscreens are minerals that are naturally white in color. When they are ground into smaller particles and mixed into the formulation, they leave a white or bluish-white cast on the skin once applied.
Those with darker complexions may find this a struggle. However, you may opt for a tinted sunscreen to hide the white cast. Tinted sunscreens can help even out the skin tone while providing sun protection.
#AskYourDerma Pro Tip: If you are struggling with melasma and/or any other hyperpigmentation issue, go for a tinted sunscreen. Aside from not leaving that white cast, these sunscreens give added protection against visible light.
Make sure that your sunscreen is non-comedogenic if you want to avoid issues with blocked pores. Non-comedogenic sunscreens are ideal for those with oily, acne-prone, and combination skin because they have a lighter texture. Their formulation is also less oily than regular sunscreens, and they help lessen and prevent acne breakouts.
Meanwhile, hypoallergenic sunscreens are best for those with sensitive skin. These formulations are usually free of ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation, such as parabens, fragrances, and phthalates. Always read the ingredient list and do a patch test when using a product for the first time to see how your skin would react to it.
Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic are not standardized terms. Thus, they must be taken with a grain of salt. However, for someone with acne-prone skin or sensitive skin, they can lead you in the general direction of something that might be a better fit for your skin.
#AskYourDerma Tip: At the end of the day, trial and error is still key!
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates products that are safe and effective to use. It has a set of tests and standards that the product has to pass to be given approval and considered safe for use. If you want a sunscreen that has undergone stringent quality measures, look for the FDA approval seal.
With so many sunscreens available in the market and at different price points, you want to make sure that your sunscreen is giving you the protection you need.
Click to purchase
Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Sheer Tint
Protect and Moisturize Your Skin With This Hydrating Sunscreen
Intensive Triple-shield Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
A Non-Greasy Sunscreen That's Suitable for Oily Skin
Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 With Antioxidants
Neutralizes Free Radicals and Keeps Your Skin Hydrated
SOME BY MI
Truecica Mineral Calming Tone-Up Suncream
Soothe Your Skin With This Calming and Anti-Inflammatory Sunscreen
Skin Protect Brightening Sunblock
Bring Out Your Skin’s Glow With This Brightening Sunscreen
Ellana Mineral Cosmetics
Clean Screen Oil Control Mineral Sun Protection
Blurs out Pores for Flawless-Looking Skin
Sunglow by Fresh
A Tinted Sunscreen That Matches Filipino Skin Tones
Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen
An Award-Winning Sunscreen Suitable for All Skin Types
Complete No-Stress Physical Sunscreen
A Reef-Friendly Sunscreen That Protects Your Skin and the Environment
Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen
A Sunscreen With a Long Staying Power, Good for Outdoor Use
This tinted sunscreen from CeraVe uses 100% mineral sun filters and delivers broad spectrum sun protection at SPF 30. It's highly blendable and has a sheer, natural finish that goes well with all skin tones. This a great pick for those with sensitive skin, as it has been allergy-tested and is free of fragrances and parabens.
Those with dry skin would also benefit from its hydrating properties, thanks to the combination of 3 essential ceramides that lock in skin moisture and are released slowly to ensure efficient hydration. Aside from that, it contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which ups the moisturizing factor even more!
True to its name, the Innisfree Intensive Triple Care Sunscreen has 3 main goals: skin brightening, anti-aging, and protection against sunlight. To achieve this, it uses a blend of titanium and zinc oxide, plus sunflower oil for lightening the skin and preventing wrinkles.
Moreover, it has a non-greasy formulation and a matte finish that works best for those with oily and acne-prone skin. Users also love how it doesn't cause makeup to slip off when applied underneath because it's sweat-proof and water-resistant. This is one of the best options to use if you want to take IG-worthy photos on beach trips!
The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters sunscreen is one of your best bets against sun damage, as it's packed with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and prevent UV penetration to the skin. And instead of nano-particles, it uses micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for an adaptive formulation that prevents it from clogging pores.
This sunscreen supports skin hydration as well because of its unique Bio-Sugar Complex, a blend of hygroscopic molecules that helps retain water in the skin. It also has lipids that help the skin improve its ability to prevent water loss, as well as Tasmanian pepperberry to calm irritation. This is definitely good news for those who struggle with dry and sensitive skin!
Do you have easily irritated skin? Then, this sunscreen from Some by Mi might be the one you need. It uses Truecica, a combination of tea tree, centella asiatica, and aloe, as its main ingredient. This makes it a powerhouse when it comes to UV protection, skin brightening, and calming skin irritation. Thus, this formulation is perfect for those with sensitive skin, and it can be applied on the body too!
People with acne-prone skin would appreciate this product, too, as it's also non-comedogenic and has a smooth, matte finish. It has also earned many positive reviews from buyers who like its mild tea tree scent. And because it doesn't leave a white cast, it's great as a makeup base, too!
Lana is a local brand that supports a zero-waste and cruelty-free lifestyle. Their sunscreen is one of their bestsellers since many users love its light and non-sticky texture, as well as its matte finish. Another plus is that it doesn't leave a white cast and can even be used as a makeup primer.
Aside from shielding your skin with a high SPF 80 rating, it also aims to brighten your skin and even out dark spots caused by sun damage. Moreover, it includes beneficial ingredients like niacinamide to minimize skin inflammation, as well as alpha arbutin to lighten age spots and improve skin tone.
It can be difficult to find the right sunscreen for combination and oily skin types, but this one from Ellana can certainly do the job. It has a zinc oxide-based formulation and strong oil control properties to keep you shine-free all day. Despite this, it feels powdery and lightweight on the skin. It's also great as a substitute for makeup primer because it can blur out pores!
Aside from that, the formulation includes sodium lactate, a Natural Moisturizing Factor that helps retain moisture. It also contains other ingredients with anti-inflammatory and healing benefits, like chamomile extracts and shea butter.
Aside from broad-spectrum protection, this sunscreen from Sunglow by Fresh offers a way to streamline your skincare routine. It comes in three tint shades - fair, medium, and deep - that suit Filipino skin tones well. Each shade delivers light to medium coverage for a smooth appearance. In fact, satisfied users say that it's effective for concealing blemishes.
Not only that, it also offers other skincare benefits. For one, it can improve hydration, thanks to the centella asiatica in its formulation. It also has sunflower oil and niacinamide to lessen skin inflammation and neutralize free radicals. If you want sunscreen that goes the extra mile, make sure to check out this one!
If you need a sunscreen that's versatile for all skin types, you might want to add the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc sunscreen to your cart. It uses zinc oxide and dry-touch technology that makes it lightweight and non-greasy. Plus, it's oil-free and absolutely won't clog your pores. And since it's water-resistant, it's a reliable choice to bring with you to the beach.
Aside from that, this product has earned the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, an assurance that it's safe even for those with sensitive skin. It also contains Vitamin E for some antioxidant protection and skin conditioning. With all of these features, it's clear that no matter what your skin type is, this sunscreen will do your skin a lot of good!
Reef-friendly sunscreens are hard to come by, which is why this product from Axis-Y is a welcome addition to the list. It's free of chemicals that may be harmful to corals. Instead, it uses reef-friendly ingredients like mugwort, calendula, grape, and squalene. It's not just eco-friendly, though; these ingredients are definitely skin-friendly, too!
For instance, its main component, mugwort, reduces the heat in the skin and promotes better blood flow, leading to improved skin elasticity and preventing skin aging. Meanwhile, the other ingredients have effective oil-control properties. Thus, this sunscreen has a matte finish that sits well with many customers with oily skin.
Looking for a sunscreen with long staying power? The Aveeno Positively Mineral sunscreen is one of the best options for a sweat- and water-resistant product because it stays on the skin for as long as 80 minutes after application. This is a great pick for beach trips or pool outings!
Aveeno is known for making hypoallergenic products, so you can rest assured that this is safe and gentle for sensitive skin. In fact, its formulation contains nourishing oat to soothe irritation. Aside from that, it has Vitamin E for protection against free radicals. It's also quick-absorbing and dries sheer on the skin-perfect for our hot weather!
There are many inorganic physical sunscreens available in the market. Turn the bottle and read the ingredients list - look for titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide!
As with any other product, physical sunscreens can potentially clog pores which can lead to acne breakouts. This is why it's important to try it out and see if your skin likes it.
#AskYourDerma Tip: Make sure to wash your face well at the end of the day to ensure all makeup and other residue are removed completely.
The best physical sunscreen for acne-prone skin is one that you like using. There is no one size fits all. However, generally, lightweight, gel-type sunscreens are usually preferred as they are less pore-clogging.
Have fun under the sun without having to worry about skin damage and sunburn. Check out the articles below for items that will let you enjoy the sunny days!
Author: Paula Rae Hachero
Editor: R. Umlas
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
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