The Best Clean Beauty Sunscreen

The Best Clean Beauty SunscreenThis blog post may contain affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase through one of these links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please note that my reviews are 100% my own personal opinion.

The Best Clean Beauty Sunscreen

I’m sure we have all heard that sunscreen is an absolutely crucial step in our skincare routine. Honestly applying sunscreen, unless going to the beach or hiking, didn’t even cross my mind up until about a year ago I am sorry to say.

I have never liked wearing sunscreen. I hate the smell, it makes my skin feel sticky, and it usually irritates my uber-sensitive, eczema-prone skin. So, the thought of wearing sunscreen every day made me cringe a little… okay, a lot.

But I also don’t want to look all leathery with tons of sunspots and wrinkles by the time I’m 40 so, here we are. I went on a hunt to find a clean beauty sunscreen that I actually liked applying and wearing.

Success! I found two sunscreens, Paula’s Choice DEFENSE Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 and Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30.

How Are They Clean Beauty?

Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30

Paula’s Choice is a Leaping Bunny Certified, cruelty-free brand whose philosophy is smart, safe beauty. Their formulas are fragrance-free (yaass!) and they have published research articles about how and why they use the ingredients they do cited on each product page (*drops the mic).

The DEFENSE Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 is a mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the active ingredients. It does not specify whether these two ingredients are non-nano or not. In my research, it seems that it is the smaller (nano) particle size that causes reef damage with these two specific ingredients.

There are approximately 44 ingredients listed in this sunscreen formula ( I may have missed one or two… that print was super tiny). The ingredients highlighted in this formula are the 12 antioxidants that are said to aid in defense against air pollution and blue light exposure.

The formula contains dimethicone, a silicone-based polymer that is a suspected environmental toxin. This ingredient has a rating of 1-3, low-moderate hazard, by the EWG.

If you would like more information on what EWG verified means and some other clean beauty certifications, check out my post here.

Paula’s Choice has practices in place to reduce their environmental impact. Paula’s Choice partners with Terracycle, a program that you can use to send back your empty Paula’s Choice products for free to have them properly recycled. They have a lot of other ethical and sustainable practices in place that you can read about here.

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

This is one of my favorite skincare brands! If you’d like a little more info on who they are, check out my article about their cleansing oil here.

Key Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Squalane, and Water Lily. Non-nano Zinc Oxide is the active ingredient in this formula so it is safe for our reefs (YAY!). The water lily ingredient is said to aid in calming skin after UV and heat exposure. There are a total of 29 ingredients in this sunscreen formula (their ingredient list print is a decent size, so I think I got them all). I always appreciate that Biossane’s formulas have a relatively low ingredient count!

How Do They Perform?

Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30

This sunscreen applies like a lightweight day time moisturizer. It is not too thick nor does it leave a white cast on the skin. It is easily massaged into the skin leaving behind a beautiful glow. There are no noticeable sparkles or glitter particles in this formula.

It leaves the skin feeling moisturized as well as looking plump and hydrated with a lovely, almost iridescent sheen without leaving behind any tackiness. There is no scent to this sunscreen.

Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

Biossance recently replaced their Squalane + SPF sunscreen with this new Zinc Sheer formula. This new sunscreen formula feels a little bit thicker compared to Paula’s Choice formula. However, I would not say it is a thick moisturizer and it is easily applied onto the skin without tugging and there is no white cast left behind.

This sunscreen also leaves your skin looking dewy and glowing, but does leave your skin feeling a bit tacky to the touch. The tackiness isn’t too much that it bothers me or feels like it is slipping around on my skin. I actually think that the tackiness helps my makeup application and makes my dry skin feel really hydrated.

How Much Do They Cost?

Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 – 2 fl oz – $29

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral SPF 30 – 1.7 fl oz – $30

As you can see, you get a tiny bit more bang for your buck with the Paula’s Choice sunscreen. However, both sunscreens are very similarly priced with similar product weights.

Paula’s Choice offers an auto-replenishment program. You can control when it is automatically reordered, every 1-6 months. If you choose this option, you receive 15% off and free shipping (what, what!).

How do you reapply?

We all know now that for sunscreen to continue being effective we have to continue to reapply it throughout the day. If you are wearing makeup, reapplying either of these sunscreens throughout the day would be impossible (unless you’re going for that smeared makeup look in which case, you do you). Paula’s Choice makes an on-the-go SPF powder that you could easily apply over your makeup throughout the day. I have not tried this particular powder, but I have tried similar ones and really enjoy them.

Okay, okay… twist my arm, I will wear these beautiful sunscreens that protect me from sun damage and becoming leather-face all while making my skin look hydrated and radiant! The audacity!

The days of smearing Coppertone goop on my face and feeling like a greasy ghost are over! Either of these sunscreens is a great option to add to your morning skincare routine! With so much emphasis now being put on preventative skincare, I think we are going to be seeing more and more effective, clean, and wearable sunscreen options!

This blog post may contain affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase through one of these links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please note that my reviews are 100% my own personal opinion.


  1. MBF
    April 1 2020 / 1:11 pm

    These look like great products! I like what sunscreen can do but I also hate the smell and feeling after applying it. I will look into these products for the summer (hopefully isolation will end by then).

    • Kelsey Castleberry
      April 3 2020 / 6:32 pm

      Yes, I hope so too!

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