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20 Reef Safe Sunscreens to Keep You Protected

20 Reef Safe Sunscreens to Keep You Protected


Last Updated on June 8, 2021

All natural, organic, eco-friendly, low-waste, and reef safe sunscreens are becoming easier to find! *PRAISE* My mom harped on me wearing sunscreen as a kid, and I can count on two hands the amount of times I’ve been burned.

She would always slather me in the stuff whether it was winter or summer because sunscreen is important ALL YEAR LONG – not just in summer.

20 Reef Safe Sunscreens to Keep You Protected

When I was in high school, all my friends used tanning beds. I wasn’t super interested in tanning, and I’m so thankful because a few old classmates dealt with melanomas in their 20s! If you’re interested in getting a bronze look check out my favorite eco-friendly sunless tanner, and lather up with some organic and reef safe sunscreens!

Since no skincare routine is complete with out a good sunscreen so be sure to also check out my favorite all natural and organic skin care recommendations too!

Some of the links below are affiliate links for more information please see my disclosure policy.

how to choose a reef safe sunscreens:

Before we get into sustainable sunscreen brands, it’s important to know what to look for. Did you know up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter our marine waterways each year?

Some sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause coral bleaching, increase the risk of disease in coral, and even impair neurological and reproductive abilities of fish!

The major chemicals that cause reef bleaching are oxybenzone and octinoxate: Once these chemicals enter the water, they decrease the corals’ defenses against bleaching and damage their DNA. This damage, along with other stressors including water pollution, ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures, cause corals to bleach and die.

Coral reefs are the world’s largest living structures, but they’re also super sensitive to any changes in the water. 

On top of what’s in our sunscreen, we should be mindful of how they’re packaged too. Lots of sunscreen comes in plastic tubes that are hard to recycle, or completely unrecyclable depending on where you live.  

Thankfully, there are low waste sunscreen options out there that are mindfully packaged and are reef safe! 

broad spectrum protection:

There are three types of sun rays: UVA, UVB and UBC. Thankfully the ozone layer protects us from UVC, but the other two can cause wrinkles, freckles, aging and even skin cancer. That’s why having a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection is important: It protects you against both UVA and UVB rays. 

However, it’s important to note that in Australia, large portions of the Ozone are actually missing – so Australians are also regularly exposed to UVC rays as well. For Australians, this makes it even more vital to use broad spectrum protection – and limit the amount of sun exposure in the first place.

spf 15 and up:

Generally speaking, you’ll never want to go below SPF 15, as SPF 15 filters out about 93% of all UVB rays. If you have highly sensitive skin, an SPF 30 (which filters 97%) or SPF 50 (98%) may be better suited for you.  

Just be mindful no sunscreen offers 100% protection – and it’s super important to reapply your sunscreen every one to two hours, no matter how high the SPF.  

Also, try to cover up, seek shade, and avoid sun exposure during the peak hours (10 AM to 2 PM) to reduce chance of sunburn (and further, more dire problems like skin cancer, down the line). 

cream formulas: 

Cream formulas are better than spray-on sunscreens because it’s harder to misuse cream-based sunscreens.  

A lot of people don’t follow the cautions on the side of the can: You’re not supposed to apply spray-on sunscreen during windy conditions. This enables the sunscreen to travel throughout the air, eventually ending up in the ocean and in the lungs of anyone near you.  

Truth is, you’re supposed to apply spray-on sunscreen only in well ventilated areas, keeping it away from your face. And you’re supposed to avoid inhaling it or exposing others to the spray.  

water resistant for 40+ minutes: 

Obviously, you want a water resistant sunscreen especially if you’re going to be in the water or working up a sweat! If you are going to be doing either of those things, be sure to check out my guide to sustainable activewear and eco friendly swimsuits.

Not all sunscreens offer the same water resistance – so its best to look for one that can withstand at least 40+ minutes, and make sure that you’re reapplying!

zero waste sunscreen:

Packaging matters, but protecting your health in skin should be the highest priority! Thankfully, there are a lot of brands that use low waste packaging, are partnered with terracycle to ensure recycling, and are working on reducing waste across the board.

More brands are taking extended producer responsibility with take-back programs and some of the brands below have packaging made from recycled plastic or materials made from sugarcane resin.

There are options for compostable push up tubes, 100% recycled plastic, and even refillable aluminum tins/bottles. As packaging becomes more of a hot button issue, I’m excited to see innovative packaging become the norm.

ingredients to avoid in sunscreen:

These are a few of the ingredients you might want to avoid in your sunscreen since some of these might cause irritation. It’s always good to check your labels since several of these ingredients have been known to cause harm to human health as well as coral and ocean life.

  • oxybenzone 
  • octinoxate 
  • 4-methylbenzylidene 
  • Homosalate
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene
  • Avobenzone

all natural, organic, reef safe sunscreen: 

Now you know what a safe, effective, eco-friendly sunscreen looks like, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite sunscreens. All of these sunscreens are reef-safe, low waste and effective. Many I have tried and used myself!

I’ve gone ahead and highlighted some of my favorite features of each brand, but it’s not an exhaustive list so be sure to check their websites for more information. 

1. raw elements

  • Plastic-free 
  • Reusable tin  
  • SPF 30 
  • Tinted option 
  • Cruelty-free 
  • Soy, gluten and nut-free 


Raw Elements: Zero Waste Sunscreen

2. all good

  • Plastic-free options 
  • Reusable tin  
  • SPF 50
  • Sprayable options 


All Good: Zero Waste Sunscreen

3. eir

  • Plastic-free 
  • SPF 30-50 
  • Tin and compostable tube option 
  • Cruelty-free 
  • Made in NYC 


Eir: Zero Waste Sunscreen

4. coola

  • Spray-on available
  • Recycled materials
  • SPF 50-70 
  • 70%+ certified organic ingredients
  • Cruelty-free and vegan


Coola: Zero Waste Sunscreen

5. kari gran 

  • Organic ingredients
  • Plastic-neutral company with Plastic Bank
  • SPF 28
  • Tinted option available
  • Cruelty-free


Kari Gran: Zero Waste Sunscreen

6. stream 2 sea

  • Organic ingredients
  • Made in the USA
  • EcoConscious Sugarcane Resin Tubes
  • SPF 20-30
  • Tinted options available
  • Cruelty-free
  • 1% For The Planet


Stream2Sea: Zero Waste Sunscreen

7. tierra + lava

  • Plastic free
  • Reusable aluminum tin
  • Organic + locally sourced ingredients
  • SPF 15
  • Fair trade certified


Tierra & Lava: Zero Waste Sunscreen

8. meow meow tweet 

  • Carbon neutral
  • Reusable aluminum pump bottle
  • Made in USA
  • Organic ingredients
  • SPF 25
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Meow Meow Tweet: Zero Waste Sunscreen

9. ilia 

  • Tinted serum
  • Powdered translucent options available
  • Take-back recycling program
  • Natural ingredients
  • SPF 20-40
  • Vegan


Ilia: Zero Waste Sunscreen

10. marie veronique 

  • Tinted coverage
  • Reusable glass bottle
  • Natural ingredients
  • SPF 30
  • Cruelty-free


Marie Veronique: Zero Waste Sunscreen

11. suntegrity 

  • Eco-Friendly Sugarcane Tube
  • Tinted coverage available
  • Face, lips + body options
  • Organic ingredients
  • SPF 25-30
  • Cruelty-free


Suntegrity: Zero Waste Sunscreen

12. babo botanicals 

  • Spray on option
  • Organic ingredients
  • Baby-friendly formulas available
  • Made in the USA
  • SPF 15-50
  • Cruelty-free


Babo Botanicals: Zero Waste Sunscreen

13. erbaviva  

  • 70% organic ingredients
  • Baby-friendly formulas available
  • Farm to bottle
  • SPF 30
  • Cruelty-free


Erbaviva: Zero Waste Sunscreen

14. honua hawaiian skincare  

  • Day cream
  • Natural ingredients
  • Reusable glass bottle and jar
  • 1% of each bottle sold donated to sustainable Hawaiian coastlines
  • SPF 30
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Honua Hawaiian Skincare : Zero Waste Sunscreen

15. solara suncare   

  • Natural ingredients
  • Recyclable tube
  • EWG verified
  • SPF 30
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Solara Suncare: Zero Waste Sunscreen

16. kinship   

  • Natural ingredients
  • Tubes are made of post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials
  • Take-back program
  • SPF 32
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Kinship: Zero Waste Sunscreen

17. cocokind

  • Natural ingredients
  • SPF 32
  • Fights against pollution + blue light
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Cocokind: Reef Safe Sunscreen

18. blackgirl sunscreen

  • Natural ingredients
  • Black owned
  • Take back program
  • Fragrance-free
  • SPF 30-50
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Blackgirl Sunscreen: Reef Safe Sunscreen

19. josie maran

  • Organic and natural ingredients
  • Plastic-free options
  • Glass bottles
  • Take-back program with TerraCycle
  • SPF 30-47
  • Vegan options
  • Cruelty-free


Josie Maran: Reef Safe Sunscreen

20. bliss

  • Natural ingredients
  • Certified B Corp
  • Sheer coverage
  • Take-back program with TerraCycle
  • SPF 30
  • Vegan and cruelty-free


Bliss: Reef Safe Sunscreen

Which of these zero waste sunscreens would you use?

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  1. I love that you have “made in the USA” listed as some of the factual information for the different sunscreens on offer, however, it would be nice to have listed on all of the sunscreens where they are from, if possible?