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Cruelty-Free Sunscreens for Mature Skin

Being at the beach last week has reminded me how critical good sunscreen is. Mature skin has challenges that younger skin just doesn’t have. By this age, most of our faces (and I’m going to include décolleté in this) have taken a significant beating from the sun. And even though most of the damage was inflicted in our youth, we have to remain vigilant about protecting it from the sun. No matter your age or the time of year, wearing sunscreen daily is essential. Today I’m updating a popular post and sharing a roundup of the best cruelty-free sunscreens for mature skin. I have an entire arsenal that I rely on, so here are some of my favorites for your face and body.

Here are some other helpful posts about sun protection that you may also want to read:

beach bag sunglasses and sunhat on beach

Sunscreens are separated into chemical or physical ones, but to be honest, they’re all chemicals. Some are just assumed to be safer and more effective.

What’s the most effective sunscreen for mature skin? It’s the one that you will use consistently and use enough of. Most people use a thimbleful of sunscreen and spread it too thinly. Please check out How Much Sunscreen Do You Need?

Best Sunscreens for Women Over 50

Physical cruelty-free sunscreens for mature skin

Physical sunscreens provide the best protection and are the gentlest because they reflect damaging rays. They’re called sunblock because they block the rays from absorbing into your skin. Zinc oxide is the gold standard for sun protection because it blocks more rays than even titanium dioxide. My dermatologist and the National Rosacea Society believe that mineral (physical) sunscreens are the best type to use with my rosacea because they are less irritating.

Australian Gold tinted review on A Well Styled Life

They do tend to leave a white cast, so many companies add tints to help them blend in better. For many years I used Elta MD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41. I used it in place of foundation to give my face a smooth finish. Then I switched to Australian Gold Tinted Face SPF 50 to get that extra bit of coverage.

Josie Maran makes a lovely Broad Spectrum SPF 47 moisturizer that I’ve used for many years and love. I never rely on a moisturizer with SPF alone, but this one has titanium dioxide 5.1% and zinc oxide 6.4, so it’s very protective and soothing.

My current favorite sunscreen for my face is this MDSolarSciences spf 50. It has water-resistant, broad-spectrum UV protection that leaves a smooth, matte finish. I carry this stick in my purse and keep one in my car to add extra protection throughout the day.

colorscience physical sunscreen for mature faces

I’ve been a big fan of Colorscience everything for years. They consistently make reliable, superior products with high SPF that many dermatologists, including mine, recommend.

I’ve used this ColorScience Brightening Primer off and on for years. It helps illuminate your complexion and smoothes its appearance with an SPF of 20 from titanium dioxide 5% and zinc oxide 4.5%. It’s not enough on its own for me, but I love how it smoothes things out, and my foundation goes over it so nicely.

I also love this Sunforgetable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50! It comes in 3 “shades,” which is a bit misleading because it rubs in to be totally invisible. I have the original, which is a universal peach that disappears and leaves no film or shine. You can add the Sunforgetable Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral powder on top of your makeup any time of day without disturbing it. It’s pricey, and other brands do make similar products, so you could shop this type of product around.

The Colorscience Total Eye 3 in-1 Renewal Therapy Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Concealer ingredient list reads more like an eye cream yet has a strong SPF you can use over your entire lid, from undereye to brow.

How Much Sun Protection Are You Getting?

It’s important to note that the total SPF you wear is not calculated by adding one product with another. It’s only as high as the strongest single SPF product you wear, assuming you have applied enough. I think that layering does help ensure I haven’t missed any spots.

Compact Mirror with UV Camera Built-in for Sunscreen Check

I’ve been reading about these compact mirrors that reveal where you’ve applied sunscreen and where you may have missed it. Most are compact magnifying mirrors equipped with a built-in camera that shows your sunscreen application and the effectiveness of your sunblock. They come at different price points, and none are cheap, but they may be invaluable. This one works with your phone.

Chemical sunscreens for mature skin

There is some controversy over the safety of chemical sunscreens which I wrote about here. The FDA has decided that only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe, but we all make our own decisions, and for many, they just can’t tolerate the physical sunscreens.

This Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is a best-seller everywhere. It absorbs into your skin with no residue, so makeup goes on easily. It contains zinc oxide, but I have it in this category because the other sunscreen ingredient is octinoxate. It’s sheer, lightweight, and contains hyaluronic acid, which helps hydrate skin.

Sunscreen For Lips

An often overlooked place where women (and men) get sun damage is their lips. I just ordered this Mdsolarsciences tinted lip balm with SPF 30 and will keep you posted. This Colorscience Lip Balm has an SPF of 50, which is much higher than most.

More products to protect your lips-

I am neurotic about protecting my skin from any future sun damage. I do as much reading as possible and try new ones all the time. I have no problem relegating one to “not for me”  if it’s streaky, greasy, or generally unpleasant. If I don’t love it, I won’t use it, which makes it worthless to me.

Other Highly Recommended Face Sunscreens

While I haven’t tried these, I see them recommended again and again and have heard great things.

Additional Ways to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

While sunscreen is a must, I also wanted to emphasize that there are additional ways to protect your skin from the sun. Walking on the shady side of the street comes to mind, and I intentionally do it. Just as SPF is the rating in sunscreen, UPF is the rating in hats and clothing for sun protection. UPF 50+ is the highest rating in clothing offered and blocks up to 98% of UVA and UVB rays.

I highly recommend having a UPF 50+ sun hat handy. I’ve linked my favorite sun hats in this post for you. Another way to protect your skin is by wearing UPF clothing. Brands like Coolibar, Cabana Life, and others are designed just for this.

What are your favorite sunscreens?

Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.


  1. Michele in SC says:

    I’m a new subscriber and so happy to see this post highlighting cruelty-free options! There are so many good choices that are cruelty-free now. I’ve been using Paula’s Choice Calm SPF30 for normal/dry but have noticed a white-ish cast in pictures. I’m going to give the Australian Gold a try on top of that instead of foundation. Really glad to have found your site thru Jo-Lynne’s blog!

    1. Welcome, Michelle! Jo-Lynne is fabulous. I love her.

  2. I wear sunscreen every day even in the winter.
    When younger I worshiped the sun with Baby Oil and Iodine to get a rich deep tan. Not too smart. I have been lucky not to have had any serious skin damage.
    Now I am more attentive to the one skin I was blessed with.
    I use Skin-so-soft by Avon SPF 30 with insect repellant because of a misquote allergy. So far works great. Also have protective SPF clothing. Much smarter now.
    Thanks for the great blog.

    1. Thanks for sharing Lin

  3. I have taken sun protection a step further by installing 3m sun UV blocking film on my car’s windows. The dermatologist told me the left side of my face has more sun damage than the right side because of driving and that this is very common. In California front side windows can only be slightly tinted. The 3m film is clear to stay within the California laws.

    1. My left side has the most damage too! Thanks for sharing the clear film. I’ll check into it!!

  4. Francesca B says:

    I love the Supergoop Unseen. It is pricey but l use it on my face under make up and it just absorbs into the skin so you look and feel as if you are not wearing sunscreen at all. I have not used the Play one but l think l would use something cheaper for the body. I like it so much l hide the tube from my husband! Also love the Elta MD.

    1. I’ll order some Super Goop today to try. I never stop trying new ones.

  5. Isdin Photo untinted SPF50 says it is 100% mineral – not greasy and dries down with no white cast. I love it! Also, for eyes- Supergoop Bright Eyes cream SPF40 and their Shimmer Shade eye shadow is SPF30 is pretty good too. Thanks for this post. Keep ‘em coming !

    1. I love and use that Isdin sunscreen as well. I only didn’t include it here because it’s not cruelty free and I was focusing on those. I need to try super goop.

  6. I have found Australian Gold too drying for my 71 yr old skin. So I’ve been trying two sunscreens recommended by Angie at Hot and Flashy, R&R Sun Serum sunscreen by Undefined (mineral) and a Korean brand Beauty of Joseon. spf 50 (chemical) and like them both. I have a lot of trouble with mineral sunscreens always catching dry patches. Thanks for the info.

  7. Great information to start my day! I have used Elta MD for years but want to try some of these products that you and others here in the comment section have listed. Such a huge selection compared to when we were kids and teens.

    1. Oh yes!! I sure wish we’d had these options when we were younger. I’d have much less skin damage now.

  8. I haven’t heard of some of these sunscreens but I’m sure going to try some. I never leave the house without wearing sunscreen. We golf so much in the summer that Its an absolute must. I also never golf without a hat. I especially like the lipstick you recommend. I’ve been looking for something like that. Thanks!

  9. Great post..happy there are lipsticks with SPF now! Also going to order the tinted AustralianGold for the face. My best SPF is staying in the shade!

    1. Agreed, but you still need sunscreen in the shade because of reflection.

  10. Thank you for this post Jennifer! I have used many of your recommendations with success and look forward to trying your current favourite. I haved used mineral sunscreens Australian Gold, Ombrelle, Avene and La Roche Posay the most but I’m ready to try others. Chemical sunscreens work on my body but cause breakouts on my face. Now that I am aware about the damage they can do when swimming, I will adjust my sunscreens accordingly.

  11. My dermatologist recommends Blue Lizard which is an Australian brand mineral sunscreen. It was tested against other mineral sunscreens by having people sit in hot tubs for an hour. At the end of an hour, those with Blue Lizard had the most sunscreen left on their skin. My husband who hates the feel of sunscreen doesn’t mind this brand. Thanks for the lip balm recommendation! I have been wondering which ones had SPF protection.

    1. I will try it! I want my grandson to wear more sunscreen and he’s very persnickety. Thank you.

  12. Great article! I was so stupid about sunscreen until 15 years ago when I got my fist skin cancer diagnosis. I was the one who got bad sunburns and uses tanning beds. I have had several squamous skin cancers over the years and many precancerous spots. I see the dermatologist every six months. I am religious about using sunscreen now. I

    1. I wish I knew then what I know now too! My dermatologist assures me it’s still very important to protect ourselves from the sun.

  13. Very informative post. I’ve never heard of most of them! I’ve been relying on my moisturizers SPF 20, but have been feeling that it’s not enough. I don’t do much about the rest of my body on a day to day basis; you’ve given me the incentive to start. Thanks for all the tips!

  14. Linda Totty says:

    I always enjoy your posts! I love your honesty and suggestions. Very often I am able to try what you have recommended, and I am always pleased with the various products.

  15. Katelyn K says:

    As a former facial skin cancer patient, I cannot fathom being without sunscreens these days. As I snorkel the numerous reefs here in South East Florida, reef safe mineral products are all I’ll use. For the body it’s Think Sport SPF 50+ Mineral Formula – 20% non-nano (reef safe) zinc oxide. While it goes on thick and white, rubbing well into the skin makes it almost disappear. I’d rather be white then burned and this product sure works. For the face and eyes, It’s Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen, what Susan Blakey (of “un femme d’un a certain age”) recommends. Versed is a slightly tinted 15.2% non-nano product that goes on clean and absorbs well. I wear over my usual daily moisturizer and under mineral sunscreen CC foundation cream. My lips and eyes go to sunscreen is Sun Bum Mineral Formula Lip Balm – SPF30. Also a non-nano zinc oxide product. Goes on a little white but absorbs and provides excellent protection. Sun Bum also has no preservatives and uses natural ingredients.

    1. Thank you for sharing those, Katelyn. I have been reading about nanoparticles and it’s a hot topic in sunscreen.

  16. I LOVE when you recommend cruelty free! Thank you. Great recs. I also like COOLA Classic Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, Guava Mango, which I bought online from Costco.

    1. Coola is a wonderful line!!

  17. I highly recommend Paula’s Choice products and use their Skin Restoring Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 with antioxidants. Whatever sunscreen you choose, select one that includes antioxidants that will bump up protection from free radicals in the environment!

  18. I love this subject! Most of my googles are about sunscreen, tinted moisturizer, self tanners!My all time favorite is alba botanical soothing sunscreen in pure lavender. It is 45 spf. I love the smell. My local TJMaxx sells it but only in the summer so I’ve learned to stock up.I also found a small tube of the Australian gold botanical to keep in my purse. I’m still looking for a facial product.

    1. It’s so smart to carry some with you!

  19. Sunblocks that use minerals like titanium and zinc oxides protect the planet’s coral reefs from damage. Resort staff notice the oily sheen of sun screens on the water in the beach areas after a day of heavy use and the chemicals in many lotions are known to be destructive to the coral. I believe Hawaii is planning to ban the use of certain products in an effort to protect their marine environments. I think it would be wonderful if all tourists were required to purchase only safe sun lotions at their holiday destinations…one less thing to pack in a suitcase!

    1. Jacquie in NorCal says:

      Thank you for mentioning our planet’s reefs in the same sentence as Suncreen. While I am not a diver the rest of my family are divers, and they bemoan the state of the reefs all around the world, Indonesia, Australia, the Caribbean. Consequently we use reef safe sunscreens. My personal favorite is Elta MD Elements.

    2. Katelyn K says:

      Fully Agree Susan! We need to preserve and protect our reefs as they are rapidly dying out. I see the physical damage each year as I snorkel and dive the Florida reef systems. I only use non-nano reef safe products.

      1. Barbara Shapas says:


        This is a link to a March 2021 article about sunscreens allowed in Hawaii. Please read it…it’s short. We must also apply this to all coral reefs, wherever in the world. Unfortunately, this bill failed to pass.

        Basically, the bill was attempting to add avobenzone and octocrylene to the already banned oxybenzone- and octinoxate-containing sunscreens. In a multinational study published by the American Chemical Society in 2021, researchers looked at the degradation of octocrylene into benzophenone, which is a mutagen, carcinogen and endocrine disruptor (which means it alters how hormones work). The entire publication is here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00461#

        For those not into reading scientific journal articles, I’d suggest reading the short Abstract and then scrolling down to view a couple tables of the tested sunscreen products.

        We all need to be very concerned about putting these products on our bodies!

      2. Thanks for sharing this Barb, this kind of reading is right up my alley.

      3. With my daughter & son-in-law living in Oahu, we visit once a year and finding your recommended sunscreen options was fantastic – I’ve ordered the facial & body sunscreen you recommended immediately. They’ve already banned some sunscreen products in HI is my understanding. Living in SE FLA, sunscreen is a must but I hated all the ones I’ve tried as I felt like my pores were constantly clogged, almost felt like suffocating especially on my face. So excited to receive my orders! Thank you very much!

    3. I’m very happy to see them taking a stand to protect the coral reefs! Hawaii won’t let you bring in ones that damage it and luckily we have lots of options.

    4. Thank you, Susan! I’d like to see sprays banned too. So many times, I’ve been on a beach — several times eating – and someone upwind from me sprays themselves and it blows into the faces of everyone downwind from them. Also, think about the containers used for your sunscreen and try to find ones that can be recycled.

  20. What a timely blog this morning! I want to give a personal shout out to the tinted Australian Gold sunscreen. I have been using it every day, all year round. My skin has taken on a yellow undertone that I don’t recall having in my youth. This tinted product simply neutralizes my coloring and does not settle in my wrinkles. I love it! I purchase it at my local Menards (large hardware/lumber) store. I know it sounds crazy but they carry a display year round and it’s very affordable.
    Thank you for another informative blog!

    1. Let’s hear it for hardware stores :)!

  21. I have been using that Australian Gold Tinted for face that you recommended some time back, very good. I am using this either alone or under foundation while I am up in Colorado where the sun is much stronger. I use Neutragena for neck and arms. I will try the Australian Gold for body in future. I may try others you suggested here.
    I had a precancerous spot on side of nose that was removed with chemo cream. Left no scars and skin looks new. I had it done during lockdown and hid under a mask . The process is several weeks from start to finish , but works well. The skin is red and raw until you are done. Well worth the inconvenience and ugly look.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with that cream. I know they recommended it for a friend and his entire face was a mess, so I’m guessing small spots are easier to use it for

  22. Always a challenge to find sunblock that works, and doesn’t cause breakouts or irritation. My favorites sold in Canada are the physical (mineral) tinted sunblocks from Ombrelle, La Roche-Posay and Avène. Kiehl’s also has one I like. I use at least SPF 50, wear a hat and long sleeves. L’Oreal came out with an untinted mineral sunblock, but it’s hard to find in the stores lately. Estée Lauder also has a tinted mineral makeup with sunblock, but it, too, is hard to find in my shade, and on the expensive side.

  23. I have terrible allergies to a preservative found in so many products today. I get blisters that itch terribly and my skin resembles eczema. I use Supergoop, mostly because it is safe for my skin. I just looked up Elta and I can use it too, so I will give it a try. Thank you for sharing the information. Have a great weekend.

    1. I’m glad to know it’ll be gentle enough for your skin

    2. Hi Anne, could you advise which preservative you are sensitive to? Thanks!

  24. Thanks for sharing your research and encouraging us to use sunscreen daily. Today the sun is bright at 7am, so it’s a hat as well, today for me.

  25. Great information! I never leave the house without sunscreen. Always in my moisturizer and my foundation, plus I wear a hat. Golfing is a real challenge but I have SPF sleeves and that really helps.

    1. I’m a big fan of fabrics with sun protection too!

  26. Thanks for talking about sunscreen. I use a daily SPF50 moisturizer from Bioelements. I’ve used their skin products for years. To protect my scalp, I use Baby Bum SPF50. I’m out regularly with my dog and walking so I stay covered up. I keep a bottle of Aveeno lotion with sunscreen in my car to protect my hands from exposure when driving. These have all served me well!

    1. Mary Youra says:

      Would you elaborate on how you apply the Baby Bum to your scalp?

  27. Great information! Thank you

  28. Valla Rogers says:

    My hair is a bit thin on top so it will burn if I don’t put something on it. I use the Colorscience mineral powder for when I’m not wearing a hat. Other products make it greasy looking.

    1. Thank you so much for mentioning that powder, Valla! It sounds brilliant. I didn’t know it existed. I need to get some and buy it for my grandson!! It’s never too early to start protecting your skin.

    2. Hi, I too use Colorescience mineral powder, but how do you keep the brush clean? I e tried several methods, any suggestions would be so appreciated.

  29. I use the Elta 45. I used it all last summer and just restocked. I have confidence wearing it in direct sunlight. My skin doesn’t look any redder or freckled after exposure to sun. I’m always hiding from the sun and wear hats .

    Thanks for the overview and doing the research.

    1. I do love the Elta MD line. It’s got so many great products.

  30. Paulette Levy says:

    My dermatologist has given me this Isdin sunscreen and have to say I like it, just for the reasons you give.
    She seems to favor Isdin products as a few years ago years ago she prescribed their 3 month capsules for hair thinning and loss and it worked! ( I had been hospitalized for 11 weeks given huge doses of antibiotics for a massive kidney infection and on a ventilator etc. very sick. My hair is now thick and healthy! I trust Isdin products!

    1. I’m so sorry you suffered like that, Paulette! I haven’t looked into the Isdin line further but I will now. Thanks so much

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