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Safe in the sun: Non-chemical sunscreens hit the beach

May 16, 2011 | 11:32 am

I'm as pale as pale gets, but I loathe wearing sunscreen. Often sticky, always heavy, and sometimes even flaky (ew!), sunblocks with high SPFs make me feel like jumping in the shower all over again.

Which is why, in my world, the recent proliferation of chemical-free sunscreens is as welcome as a Barneys gift certificate on my birthday. The lighter, less tacky-feeling formulations — which are free of old-school sunscreen ingredients octinoxate and oxybenzone — are mineral-based, so they wear much more kindly on the skin.

A few of my favorites:

Melvita Sun Cream in SPF 15 and 30

This organic sunscreen by French skin care company Melvita is available on the brand's website and protects skin against UVA and UVB rays with naturally derived titanium and zinc. The super-smooth, sweet-smelling cream also packs moisturizing mango butter and cupuacu oil. $34 at



Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen

This inexpensive formula also uses sun-blocking titanium dioxide -- a naturally occurring oxide. And because it's made with 100% natural ingredients, it's safe for babies and children. $15 at


Jason Facial Natural Sunblock SPF 20

This oil-free, ultra-sheer formula contains titanium dioxide and is enriched with antioxidants such as organic grape seed and green tea extract. And it's so lightweight, it's perfect for wearing under makeup. $15.50 on

Clarins_UV Plus HIGH RES
Clarins UV Plus SPF 40

Clarins took its sweet time in launching a suncare line, determined to get it right without using questionable chemicals. And this thin-but-powerful mineral elixir, which also uses titanium dioxide, was worth the wait. Unlike the goopy face screens of times gone by, UV Plus actually dries on your face — creating a sheer barrier against sun and pollutants that's neither oily nor shiny. Perfect-o. $38 at

-- Emili Vesilind

Photos (from top) Melvita Sun Cream. Credit: Melvita

Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen. Credit: Burt's Bees

Jason Facial Natural Sunblock SPF 20. Credit: Jason

Clarins UV Plus SPF 40. Credit: Clarins