Best Safe Sunscreens for Reefs by 2022


Sunscreen it is a vital part of a safe skincare routine. When you’re spending more time outdoors and exposing more skin, it’s important to make sure your skin is protected from excessive sun exposure. But not all Sunscreens They are the same. While all protect you from the sun, the ingredients of some of them can be harmful to the ocean ecosystem.

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According to a 2016 study, oxybenzone is one of the main offenders that can cause environmental damage, from coral bleaching to the death of coral reefs, in addition to damaging their DNA and their ability to reproduce. In fact, this problem has become such a concern that Hawaii has even banned certain ingredients in state-permitted sunscreens. But how can you tell the difference and make sure you choose the best reef-safe sunscreens to use this summer?

To help you start your journey to safer sun exposureI’ve rounded up some of the best reef safe sunscreens you can buy online. These sunscreens are not only safe for coral reefs and marine life, but they are also highly rated and loved by the real people who use them. I also spoke to a board certified dermatologist to help explain reef safe sunscreen and how you can protect yourself and the environment.

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Babo Botanicals

This Babo Botanicals SPF 30 sunscreen contains non-nano zinc oxide as the main ingredient. Rather than relying on chemical protection, zinc oxide provides a physical barrier between you and the sun. But since this option is clear, you won’t have to worry about sporting a white glow on the beach this summer. It is also hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, making it ideal for sensitive skin, and contains a blend rich in vitamins and antioxidants that hydrates the skin and helps protect it from sun damage.


If you’re looking for some serious protection, this Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 has you covered, literally. Like many of the other options on this list, its main ingredient is non-nano zinc oxide. While it absorbs quickly into the skin so it doesn’t feel greasy, some users report a bit of a white glow left behind. But it’s highly waterproof, biodegradable, and non-toxic – a worthwhile trade-off.


Supergoop was one of the first companies to create oxybenzone-free sunscreen, a major culprit in ocean pollution. Years later, the company has remained true to its mission. This sunscreen is reef safe, cruelty free, and loaded with skin-hydrating compounds like frankincense and meadow foam seed oil. Made with the face in mind, it becomes completely transparent, even at high SPF 40. If you want to use it as a daily sunscreen, it also works well as a makeup primer.


Formulated for dark skin, this hydrating sunscreen lotion from Black Girl Sunscreen offers a clear formula that dries without leaving any white residue on the skin. Made with nourishing ingredients like jojoba, cocoa, and avocado, it also works as a lightweight, natural moisturizer, while SPF 30 protects your skin from sun damage. In addition to being reef safe, it is also vegan and is paraben and fragrance free.


Not only is this SPF 50 sunscreen safe for reefs, it also has an almost completely organic ingredient list. It’s made with coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, and thanaka, an antioxidant-rich ingredient from Myanmar that is reported to have anti-fungal, anti-acne, and anti-aging properties. While it can be somewhat thick, users say it blends in very well and lasts all day, even through intense water activities like surfing.


This Badger Active Sunscreen Cream starts off white but becomes completely transparent thanks to its main ingredient, clear uncoated zinc oxide. In addition to being reef safe, it is free of all artificial ingredients including dyes, parabens, petroleum jelly, and fragrances, and the ingredient list is also 98% organic. While some users report it’s a bit greasy, others say it’s worth it as it lasts for hours, even on 90-degree days.


Another physical sunscreen, Cocokind’s Daily SPF combines non-nano zinc oxide with blue phytoplankton and microalgae, two ingredients from the sea, that help protect your skin from the sun’s rays and other age-accelerating stressors like pollution. and blue light. . So this SPF 32 sunscreen not only protects you from sunburn, it also helps prevent dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. Most users say it mixes well, leaving minimal residue and no greasy feel.

What are reef safe sunscreens?

“Reef Safe Sunscreen keeps ocean life happy and does not contain harmful chemicals known to damage coral reefs, “says Chimento. He explains that most reef-safe sunscreens are based on physical ingredients that block UV rays, such as titanium dioxide and oxide, which provide a barrier between the skin and the sun, deflecting the sun’s rays before they reach the skin.However, there are chemical sunscreens that are free of the major chemicals known to cause damage to coral reefs, and this is where the Diligent verification of labels becomes even more important.

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Chimento notes that all types of approved sunscreens will protect your skin and are effective at blocking UV rays. But while more research is needed to determine the health implications of certain chemicals in sunscreen, reef-safe sunscreen may be a safer alternative for people who are concerned about long-term exposure to chemical ingredients.

How to Find Reef Safe Sunscreen

Unfortunately, a major problem is that the terms “reef safe” and “reef friendly” are not regulated by any government authority, so the word of a brand cannot always be trusted. According to Save the Reef, a charity founded by Karmagawa, it is good practice to check the ingredient list and avoid sunscreens that include any of the following ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • PABA
  • congratulations
  • Triclosan
  • Any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating pearls”

The size of the particles also matters. Nanoparticles and nano-sized zinc or titanium can accumulate and become toxic to coral reefs, and potentially humans, in high concentrations. As a general rule of thumb, if a sunscreen does not specify that it is not nano, you can assume that it is best avoided.

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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.