10 Cruelty-free, Eco-friendly Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Sunscreen is the best kept secret to aging skin! Infact, it should be the most important part of your daily skincare regimen. Sunscreen MUST be worn all round the year esp. during the winter months. Read below to understand why.

Skin exposure to UV radiation damages the genetic material or DNA, in your skin cells. Below is a quick refresher before we dive in. There are 2 types of UV rays that you need to be worried about: (1) UVA (2) UVB

  • UVA rays are called “Long wave” or “Aging” rays which can penetrate the skin much deeper than UVB rays.
  • UVB rays are called “Short wave” or “burning” rays. These rays do not penetrate the skin and are what causes you to tan or get a sunburn.

UVB rays are weaker in the winter which is why you don’t get sunburned as easily. But these skin aging UVA rays that cause wrinkles, premature aging and damage are present during the year ’round even during the colder, cloudier months. 

Although wearing sunscreen is very beneficial, it’s also affecting the environment. The chemicals used in sunscreens are destroying the oceans’ coral reefs which in turn endangers marine underwater life. 

Why should I be concerned?

According to the National Ocean Service, Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. They are a source of food for millions of aquatic species. And they also protect coastlines from storms and erosion. 

You may feel like just an insignificant amount of sunscreen would enter the water off your skin. However, according to National Geographic, it’s estimated around 14,000 tons of sunscreen are thought to wash into the oceans each year. You can read more about how sunscreens are affecting oceans here.

What can I do?

What you can do to protect and preserve these beautiful coral reefs is to shop for a sunscreen that is both Reef-Safe and obviously Cruelty free!

How to identify a Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

Oxybenzone and Octinoxate have been recognized as the two most harmful ingredients in sunscreen. Hawaii became the first state to officially ban sunscreens containing these ingredients. Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene are moderately harmful ingredients as well. 

What you should I look for:

  1. Absence of (1) Oxybenzone and (2) Octinoxate
  2. Mineral Sunscreen(ie, with Non-Nano Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide) instead of a Chemical Sunscreen
  3. Non-Nano Ingredients (ie, ingredient particles must be above 100 nanometers in size so that they cannot be ingested by corals.)
  4. Labels ‘Reef Safe’ or ‘Reef Friendly’: 
    1. Unfortunately, there’s no defined standard and these labels are not really regulated. Brands with “reef safe” labels usually eliminate the two most toxic chemicals banned by the State of Hawaii. 
    2. However, you should try to avoid moderately toxic ingredients as well when possible. 

Here’s the NOT List:

There are a lot of chemicals in Sunscreen that are harming the reefs. Below are the list of chemicals that should NOT be in your Sunscreen:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • Microplastic spheres or beads.
  • Nanoparticles

List of Cruelty free Reef-Safe Sunscreens:

With that said, here are 11 best Cruelty free Reef-Safe Sunscreens to pick from:

1. All Good Brand SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion [VEGAN]

  • Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 12% (Non-nanoparticle)
  • Broad-spectrum Protection
  • Water Resistant: 80 mins
  • Kid Friendly options available

2. Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($15) [VEGAN]

  • Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 16%
  • Broad-spectrum Protection
  • Certifications: Non Nano, Reef Friendly
  • Water Resistant: 80 mins
  • Kid & Baby Friendly options available
  • Tinted Sunscreens Available too

3. Badger Clear Zinc Oxide Sport Sunscreen SPF 35 ($15)

  • Active Ingredients: Uncoated Clear Zinc Oxide 22.5%
  • Broad-spectrum Protection
  • Water Resistant: 80 mins
  • Kid & Baby Friendly options available
  • Tinted Sunscreens Available too

4. Coola Mineral Face Organic Matte Finish Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36)

  • Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 2.7%; Zinc Oxide 8.3%
  • Broad-spectrum Protection
  • Water Resistant: 80 mins
  • Tinted Sunscreens Available too

5. Kiss My Face SPF 30 Mineral Face & Body Sunscreen ($15)

  • Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 6%, Zinc Oxide 6%
  • Water Resistant: 80 mins
  • Kid & Baby Friendly options available

6. MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28 Unscented ($16.50) [VEGAN]

  • Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 11.6%, Titanium Dioxide .67%
  • Broad-spectrum Protection
  • Tinted Sunscreens Available too

7. Pacifica Mineral Face Shade Coconut Probiotic SPF 30 ($13) [VEGAN]

  • Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 4.8%, Zinc Oxide 3.1%
  • Water Resistant: 80 mins
  • Broad-spectrum Protection

8. Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29)

  • Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 5.25%; Zinc Oxide 6.12%
  • Broad-spectrum Protection

9. Solara Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen (Unscented) ($42) [VEGAN]

  • Active Ingredients: Non-Nano, Non-Coated Zinc Oxide: 20%
  • Broad-spectrum Protection
  • Water Resistant: 40 mins

10. The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants ($9.70) [VEGAN]

  • Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide
  • Broad-spectrum Protection

You can carry this handy guide with you while shopping!

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