The Best Biodegradable Sunscreen – 7 Brands You Need to Know

Best Biodegradable Sunscreen

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.

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 

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

Hawaii and Key West, Florida approved legislation to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Picture of Coral Reef

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.

Chemicals in some sunscreens that can harm marine life include: Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, nano-Titanium dioxide, nano-Zinc oxide, Octinoxate, Octocrylene

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 Sunscreen

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 Mineral Sunscreen

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 Tinted Stick Natural Sunscreen

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 and Summit Sunscreen Plastic Free Packaging

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 Mineral Based Sunscreen

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.

Badger Clear Zinc Sunscreen

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!

Manda SPF 50 Organic Sun Paste

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!

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About the Author Staff Writer

Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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