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MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50: Our Top Mineral Sunscreen Pick

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After researching and testing products for my larger guide to the best mineral sunscreens, the MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 emerged as the winning pick. Read on to learn more about how this silky-smooth, moisturizing SPF came out on top.

Many people love mineral sunscreens because they work right away, with no waiting required for absorption like with a chemical formula. They’re also less likely to cause irritation thanks to active ingredients that are gentler on skin, making them great for those with sensitive skin, as well as children and babies. Despite their appeal, you may have put mineral sunscreen on the shelf after experiencing chalky residue after application. But they’ve come a long way, and I was pleased to find that most of the products I tested in my in-depth review of the category didn’t leave a white cast across most skin types.

After testing nine top mineral sunscreens over the course of several weeks across a diverse panel of testers, I chose the MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 sunscreen as the best overall for its hydrating feel and practically clear finish. Three out of five of our reviewers chose it as their favorite, and it averaged the highest score of all the contenders.

MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50

Type: Mineral | Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide 2%, zinc oxide 17% | Price per fluid ounce: $12.35 | Scent: None | Additional ingredients: Vitamin C, pomegranate, green tea, cranberry, ceramides

Best for:

  • Least amount of white cast (none on lighter skin tones)
  • A lightweight, silky consistency that applies smoothly
  • A hydrating formula
  • Those who prefer unscented skincare

Skip if:

  • You want a lower price point

A Soft, Smooth Texture

The MDSolarSciences sunscreen had a noticeably different texture than the other sunscreens I tested. It’s so soft to the touch that it feels almost fluffy. And I wasn’t the only panelist who loved its lightweight consistency. “The MDSolarSciences felt airy and silky to apply,” said one tester. The sunscreen goes on almost matte but leaves skin looking and feeling hydrated. “It had a very subtle scent, a thicker consistency, dewy application and left no white cast,” wrote another reviewer.

Moisturizing Agents

The Mineral Moisture Defense feels a little dry (which is unusual for a lotion) going on, but as it absorbs it leaves skin dewy without feeling oily or sticky. Skin feels fresh and light after application, without the greasy sheen that some sunscreens can leave behind. The formula includes a blend of ceramides and humectants that help lock in moisture.

Blends Beautifully

Mineral Moisture Defense is easy to apply, thanks to its silky formula. “This product absorbed pretty immediately, left no white cast and felt very buttery going on,” said one reviewer. It’s light enough to use on your face and body. But the really impressive thing about it is the lack of chalky white finish that we’re accustomed to with mineral sunscreens (it only left a faint cast on our tester who identified as Fitzpatrick skin scale type VI). Part of the reason for that may be that it has a subtle pinkish tint—it’s not bright white like most other sunscreens.


How Does It Compare?

Compared to our best luxury pick, the Isdin Photo Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+, the MDSolarSciences sunscreen is a creamier lotion that’s unscented, while the Isdin has a thinner formula and light fragrance. “Both picks rubbed in incredibly well and didn’t leave any white spots,” noted one reviewer. “They also smelled the best in my opinion and made my skin feel incredibly soft.” Neither formula is cheap, but our overall pick is the more affordable option. A 3.4-ounce bottle of the Isdin Photo Eryfotona Actinica—which has the added benefit of ingredients that can repair sun damage—costs $60, while the Mineral Moisture Defense will run you $42 for the same size bottle.

Compared to our best value pick, the Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, the Mineral Moisture Defense sunscreen has a fluffy, silky texture that feels luxe, while the Australian Gold has a traditional lotion consistency that’s a bit denser and comes with a tropical scent. Both sunscreens leave skin feeling soft and fresh, with no white cast (on testers with lighter skin tones).


How I Tested The Best Mineral Sunscreens

To find the very best options, I tested a first round of nine top-rated products to narrow down to five finalists to be tested on a variety of skin tones. Our panel of five testers (including myself) represented different skin types (dry, sensitive, combination, normal) as well as skin tones.

We used the Fitzpatrick skin scale, the system dermatologists use, to determine these:

  • Type I: Skin always burns, never tans and is most sensitive to UV exposure.
  • Type II: Skin burns easily and tans minimally.
  • Type III: Skin burns moderately and tans gradually to light brown.
  • Type IV: Skin burns minimally and always tans well to moderately brown.
  • Type V: Skin rarely burns and tans quickly to dark.
  • Type VI: Skin never burns, is deeply pigmented and is least sensitive to UV exposure.

The testing panel included someone who self-identified as each skin type except type V, so we were able to see how each product performed across a wide range.

We each followed the same steps to test the sunscreens, applying approximately 2 teaspoons of each to an arm and a leg. After applying, we rated each product for the following criteria: ease of application, feel, finish and scent on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). We reapplied 2 hours later and rated each formula on that, too.


My Expertise

I’ve written probably hundreds of product reviews and roundups for outlets including CNET, The Guide, USA Today and Yahoo over the course of my 18-year career. I also write deep dives about health topics and skincare products for publications like the New York Times and The Atlantic. Growing up in California fair-skinned and freckled gave me plenty of familiarity with sunscreen. It’s hard to avoid sun damage in sunny Los Angeles; I’ve had one cancerous spot removed, so I have a vested interest in sunscreens.

I read everything I could find on mineral sunscreens to start research for this piece, and I gleaned valuable information from top skincare experts. I spoke with outdoor enthusiast and dermatologist Dr. Keith Roby, who is passionate about preventing skin cancer. I also interviewed Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, cosmetic dermatologist and chief medical officer of Ideal Image, as well as cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos.


Is The MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 Recommended For Acne-Prone Skin?

Yes, the Mineral Moisture Defense formula is oil-free, which is recommended for acne-prone skin. Mineral sunscreens in general are less irritating, making them a great option if you’re prone to breakouts, redness or other skin issues.

Is The Mineral Moisture Defense A Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

The MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense is hypoallergenic, paraben-free and vegan, and it has Skin Cancer Foundation and PETA Animal Test-Free designations. While it’s also labeled reef-safe, there isn’t an official consensus on this designation currently. Non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the active ingredients in Mineral Moisture Defense, are reef-safe, according to research.

What SPF Is Best?

Experts agree that SPF 30 is sufficient to stay safe from the sun’s harmful rays. According to Dobos and the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF refers to the average time it would take for UV radiation to burn skin when using sunscreen. So in theory if you’re wearing SPF 30 that means it would take 30 times longer to burn than if you were not using sunscreen. Dobos says regardless of the SPF, you still need to reapply every 2 hours, and more frequently if you’re in the water or perspiring.

Is Mineral Sunscreen Better For Sensitive Skin?

Mineral sunscreens are recommended for folks with more sensitive skin, and that includes babies and children. The chemical content of chemical sunscreens is more significant in babies’ small bodies, so experts recommend that babies (6 months and older) use mineral formulas. Mineral formulas like Mineral Moisture Defense are less irritating because their naturally derived active ingredients don’t absorb into the skin like chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen can generate heat on the surface of skin in order to work, and this can trigger irritation. Mineral filters physically block more UV rays before they can penetrate and heat the skin.

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