Companies aren’t regulated on using the term “reef-safe,” so it’s important to scrutinize the ingredients of any product you may potentially purchase.
This summer’s record-breaking temperatures have us all searching for the best activities to beat the heat. One of our recent articles touts the brain benefits of swimming, which is a great way to keep cool and physically fit. If you do opt to take a dip, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays by taking proper precautions such as applying sunscreen. That said, traditional sunscreens can be toxic to both your body and to marine environments like coral reefs, so it’s crucial to select a safe option when sunscreen shopping.
Even those of us who don’t live near the ocean should be mindful of the skincare products we apply before taking a swim. Your post-swim shower will wash whatever products you have on your body down the drain, into the wastewater stream, and then into the sea.
Reef-safe sunscreen is basically any sunscreen that only uses mineral-based UV-blocking ingredients. Unfortunately, companies aren’t regulated on using the term “reef-safe,” so it’s important to scrutinize the ingredients of any product you may potentially purchase.
To save you time and effort, we’ve listed the six best reef-safe sunscreens commercially available, according to EcoWatch.
The 6 best reef-safe sunscreens
Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
This one earns the “best overall” title for a number of reasons. Firstly, once applied, the full-spectrum protection begins immediately, and doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy or sticky. It also has the highest water resistance per the FDA, boasting 80 minutes of protection before needing to be reapplied.
There aren’t any parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, petroleum, gluten, dairy, or toxic chemicals used in the making of this sunscreen; plus, it’s not tested on animals.
Badger Clear Zinc SPF 40 Sunscreen
This reef-safe, broad-spectrum sunscreen keeps it simple with only four ingredients: zinc oxide, sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E, which earns it the title of “best organic sunscreen.” It also offers protection for up to 80 minutes.
This sunscreen doesn’t use any fragrances, allergens, GMOs, parabens, dyes, or artificial ingredients, and meets the strict safety guidelines of the Environmental Working Group and Protect Land + Sea. Plus, purchasing from Badger means supporting a women-run B Corporation.
Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion
For those with extra sensitive skin, Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen’s SPF 30 formula is your best bet. Its formula is 100 percent non-nano zinc and mineral-based and offers 80 minutes of water-resistant protection. All of the ingredients are natural and include organic sunflower oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, and avocado.
Babo Botanicals is also a certified B Corp, and its sunscreen has no added fragrances, is PETA-certified, and approved by the Environment Working Group.
Earth Mama Uber-Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
This SPF 40 water-resistant formula is tested by pediatricians and dermatologists for irritants, putting Earth Mama at the top of the “best for kids” category. It’s made from a non-nano zinc formula that stays on top of the skin instead of being absorbed, effectively deflecting UV rays for maximum sun protection. This product is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and has UVA/UVB protection.
Natural ingredients like shea butter and organic colloidal oatmeal are good for kids with sensitive skin that may be more prone to rashes.
Stream2Sea Sport Sunscreen
Stream2Sea uses organic mineral-based ingredients and sits on top of the skin, making it healthier for your health as well as for marine life. Your sweat is no match for this sunscreen, making it the best for ultra-active outdoor enthusiasts.
Its formula is free of parabens and sulfates and is packaged in environmentally-friendly packaging made from sugarcane resin and recycled plastic milk jugs.
REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen
This sunscreen is made with 22 percent non-nano, naturally derived zinc oxide for broad-spectrum UVA, UVB, and blue-light protection. It includes natural ingredients like yellow passionfruit and rice extract and has the added benefit of reducing the visibility of pores.
Choosing this product allows you to flex your sustainable consumer muscles because not only is it silicone-free, cruelty-free, and vegan, but it’s packaged with recycled plastic. The empty tube can also be recycled again once you’ve emptied it.