Choosing the best sunscreen will keep you and your family safe.
But did you know that your choice also impacts the environment?
70% of sunscreens on the U.S. market contain harsh chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals can damage coral reefs.
Eco-friendly consumers, dermatologists, and scientists are increasingly conscious of the impact sunscreen has on our ecosystem and are doing what they can to limit their impact.
Here is everything you need to know about reef-safe sunscreen and our picks for the best biodegradable sunscreen.
How to Choose The Best Biodegradable Sunscreen
Avoid Harsh Chemicals Such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate
A lot of sunscreen contains chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. Sunscreen manufacturers include these chemicals because they are effective in blocking UV rays. However, studies have shown that they contribute to coral bleaching.
Coral bleaching is when algae leaves the coral's tissue due to pollution or an increase in the ocean's temperature. The algae is the coral's main source of food. Without it, the coral gets sick and turns white.
Craig Downs completed a well-known study in 2015 and found that 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the ocean and impact coral reefs every year.
The harmful chemicals in sunscreen can still reach the ocean even if you aren't at the beach. When you shower, all of the sunscreen on your skin rinses off and goes down the drain, eventually reaching our rivers and oceans. You can read more about it here.
Carefully Review the Ingredients List
There aren’t any standards that sunscreen has to meet to call itself “reef-safe”. The FDA hasn’t set definitions or limits on this hazard.
If you aren’t careful, you can wind up paying more for sunscreen that says “biodegradable” or “reef-safe” when it is just marketing jargon.
Consumers should look at the ingredients list when purchasing sunscreen.
Try to avoid the chemicals listed below, as they can be harmful to coral reefs.
Source: National Ocean Service
Look For Chemical-Free or Mineral Sunscreen
Some sunscreen brands use mineral blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients are effective in blocking UV rays and won't harm the environment.
Furthermore, dermatologists say that chemical-free or mineral-based sunscreen are better for people with sensitive skin.
Our Picks for The Best Biodegradable and Reef-Safe Sunscreen
All of the sunscreen brands on our list are members of the Safe Sunscreen Council.
Kokua Sun Care has everything you hope to see in a reef-safe sunscreen. This natural zinc sunscreen includes antioxidants grown in Hawaii. Most importantly, it rubs in clear and complies with all sunscreen ban laws around the world.
See why it was rated one of the Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens by Outside Magazine!
All Good is committed to using good ingredients. They use zinc oxide which provides mineral-based protection and doesn't absorb into your skin.
Their sunscreen is gluten-free, vegan, and hypoallergenic. Perfect for the whole family!
Raw Elements was founded by Brian Guadagno, an ocean lifeguard who was dissatisfied with chemical sunscreens. They provide a water-resistant, reef-safe sunscreen that won't run or sting your eyes.
According to their website, the medium tint matches all skin tones and the convenient stick makes it easy to apply.
This certified natural sunscreen is made in the USA and all of the packaging is recyclable.
Sea & Summit is plant-based and only uses 6 organic ingredients! We love that it rubs in clearly and is 100% fair trade and plastic-free.
Thinksport has tons of positive reviews on Amazon and we understand why.
It doesn't leave your skin oily and the scent isn't too strong. It is first sunscreen to pass the Whole Foods Premium Care requirements and doesn't use animal testing.
This reef-safe sunscreen is unscented and has only 5 ingredients (clear zinc oxide, organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, sunflower vitamin E, and organic seabuckthorn extract).
Badger is a family owned, women-run B Corp established in 1995. It is simple, safe, and sustainable!
Lastly, we have Manda Organic Sun Paste, a unique option on our list.
Manda contains Thanaka, a natural paste made from pulverized tree bark. Thanaka has been used for over 2,000 years by Burmese people to protect and beautify the skin. It is all natural and regenerative. You can read more about Thanaka here.
Furthermore, Manda uses bamboo and tin to make reusable packaging. Check them out!
- 13 of the Best Eco-Friendly Tote Bags - Look stylish and carry all of your belongings in these environmentally friendly tote bags!
- The Best Eco-Friendly Dog Toys Available on Amazon - Calling all dog lovers! Get the best environmentally friendly dog toys for your best friend.
- The Environmental Impact of the Coffee Trade - Find out what your cup of coffee is costing the planet and learn how to make sustainable choices.
- The Environmental Impact of Styrofoam Cups - Do you know all of the ways single-use plastics impacts our environment?