Best Reef Safe Sunscreen Brands Reviewed – [February 2018]

What to look for in
Reef Safe Sunscreen

The NOAA (National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science) have discovered that common sunscreens are dangerous to many reefs and corals.

Even though your snorkel mask and fins are the most important equipment for a good day of snorkeling, choosing the right ocean friendly sunscreen will be a close second. 

Here are three crucial things to look for while choosing a reef safe sunscreen together with our top pick based on user reviews and affordability:

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    Most sunscreen is comprised of benzophenone-2 (BP2) which is the biggest factor in hurting coral and reefs. Make sure your choice does not contain BP2. BP2 is not removed from most municipal water treatment sources so if certain treatment centers expel their waste into the ocean this can harm reefs threatening our entire eco system.
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    Along with BP2 the main components of sunscreen are zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which will NOT biodegrade in the ocean and will harm surrounding areas. A few other ingredients to watch for in sunscreen  include oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor.
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    Make sure the label reads “reef safe, organic, biodegradable” and that it does not contain any of those other products. To note there is a shelf life of sunscreen as well of about 1-3 years. This never crossed my mind because our family grew up near and on the water and still do so we go through sunscreen weekly but now I know how and where to get the proper stuff.
Environmentally Friendly Sunscreen

Our Top Picks for Reef, Biodegradable, Coral, and
Ocean Friendly Sunscreens

1. Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen
Raw Elements Eco Sunscreen

Our number 1 pick for Eco-friendly sunscreen.  It is a water-resistant sunscreen but one of the safest on the market out there.  Up to 80 minutes of protection and hypoallergenic, reef safe quality sunscreen.  

This product is a little thicker but within 10 minutes it will absorb into your skin with a healthy glow and a little white left over so you know you will not burn!  You can expect minimal white film like appearance compared to others with same type of reef safe ingredients. Basically you need to rub in the sunscreen properly and it will behave like ordinary sunscreen. And remember you may want to leave a very slight white film for best protection from the sun.

Worth noting - just as it says on the side of the tube, Raw Elements Eco Form is non-nano and does not contain paraben. It does not cause staining on your clothes and as expected it is swear and water resistant. There is some hardly noticeable perfume (unlike many sexy tropical sunscreens!). Another big plus for Raw Element is - it is Leaping Bunny certified - meaning it is never tested on animals. 

I am a fairer skinned individual and I love the sun.  I put on a couple coats throughout a 10 hour day in the sun and no burn and even a little tan happened.

Bdger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen

With only 5 ingredients that you can count on and no octinoxate and oxybenzone or chemical active ingredients!  Water and sweat resistant for a day of fun in the sun without the worry.  Great for kids and adults so you can leave the little ones having fun on their own.

100% certified Natural and 94% certified organic!  The Badger is biodegradable and perfectly safe for coral reefs and different marine ecosystems.  The ingredients won't leave you with a rash or itch and has the main components of calamine lotions which is in diaper rash protectors so you know it is good for you if it is good for your child it is good for you!

3. Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF +50
Thinkbaby SPF 50 Sunscreen

Even though it is meant for children and babies this product is for everyone!  It is a top rated product all around the board!  With SPF 50+ (anything higher than SPF 50 is actually a lie so take note) it is water resistant up to 80 minutes which is the maximum allocated number anyways so anything more is is a lie and false advertising anyways.  

There is no ​dangerous chemicals such as Avobenzone, oxybenzone, or UV chemical absorbers!  It is the first sunscreen to pass whole foods premium care requirements.  It is not greasy and goes on light and easy.

4. Tropical Sands Biodegradable Sunscreen
Tropical Sands Biodegradable Sunscreen

With a 100% satisfaction guarantee the all natural formula is hypoallergenic, no nano particles and no harsh chemicals!  Because this product is "biodegradable" and "reef friendly" there is no need to worry about bleaching or damaging coral reefs or nature parks!

There is an anti-oxidant infused in the sunscreen, green tea ​which leaves a little light smell that is wonderful.  No parabens or emulsifiers.  

5. Sun Bum SPF 30 Lip Balm
Sun Bum Lip Balm

Even though we need to protect your skin, your lips are just as important or sometimes even more if your out having fun and out with your spouse!  This Lip Balm is fantastic.  A great price for a great product.  

All natural, it is approved by the skin cancer foundation and recommended!  It contains Cocoa Butter, its gluten free and 100% vegan so it is great and healthy for everyone!

6. Babo Botanical Lotion
Babo Clear Zinc Suncreen

Another great product rated in #1 safety on EWG, 100% non-nano Zinc sunscreen.  The SPF 30 is soy, dairy and gluten free!  Great for everyone including adults, kids, babies and is reef safe along with being hypoallergenic!  

You can use this on your body as well as your lips and it won't leave a weird taste in your mouth even if you lick your lips.  It is 80 minute water and sweat resistant and will also moisturize with certified organic oils and jojoba.  Not only is great in the ocean to protect the reefs and marine life but if you are out playing sports and sweating it will leave you protected and last!

7. All Good Sunscreen Lotion
All Good Sunscreen

All Good is a top rated sunscreen free of gluten, paraben, PABA, non-nano particle and GMO so there is nothing but good and health protecting suns screen in this product!  There is Organic Green Tea Extract and rose hips for anti aging.

It doesn't stop there though, ​it is unscented with minimal aroma and doesn't leave a white cast on fair skin.  It is non-greasy and won't sting your eyes and it is reasonably priced!  If you are susceptible to certain skin conditions and have rosacea this won't affect it and make matters worse.

8. Green Screen Organic Sunscreen
Green Screen

Still a great product and a little more reasonably priced the Green Screen Organics Sunscreen is formulated from a 86% certified organic formula and only has 8 ingredients, less is more!  

It is biodegradable, reef safe, and great for protected aquatic parks for the maintenance and growth or reefs and marine life!  It is fragrance free, gluten free, corn free, chemical free and vegan!  Suitable for anyone with any allergies or specifications.​

Final Thoughts


Much like every other product on the market, you really have to watch what you buy.  Just because it says biodegradable or reef safe does not always mean that is in fact true.  Normally I go over 10 products but I feel with "reef safe" sunscreen these are my tops picks and any one of them would be a great option.

There are lots of brands out there that falsely advertise it and it may be because they slid just under the radar for a "reef Safe" brand.

Healthy versus bleached reef

For example Alba Botanica which says it is safe but also contains palm kernel oil which promotes destruction of rain forests.  It also contains 10% Homosalate and Octocrylene which is a no no for chemicals.  I am NOT saying this is a bad sun screen but not exactly safe for reefs and use your own judgement when choosing such products. 

Now this all may sound the same but trust me there are so many different types of lotions and sunscreens that you need to be aware of and in some certain circumstances you have to have reef safe sunscreen in many national parks or you cannot even go snorkeling or diving or even go in the water a non biodegradable or reef safe sunscreen.

This is just a starting point and if we all chip in we can create a difference in our world.  I will go over what to look for in reef safe sunscreen, best biodegradable sunscreen, coral safe sunscreen, ocean friendly sunscreen and best snorkeling sunscreen.

It is amazing that the word "Eco friendly" has not come sooner into our vocabulary because we need to protect ourselves and the environment and this is the only way to do it. 

You will hear the terms reef safe sunscreen, biodegradable sunscreen, coral safe sunscreen and ocean friendly sunscreen and they all really mean the same thing and I will go over our top results for sunscreen that will help you stay sun safe and protect the environment. 

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Always question products as well because just because it says “reef safe” or “biodegradable” look at the ingrediants to make sure!

Apply sunscreen a good 15-20 minutes before entering the water so it can absorb into your skin and make an even less likely chance that you can harm the reef system.

If you have been using products for years sometimes they will change the recipe for one reason or another so it is up to you to do the research and make sure the sunscreen and lotions are what they say.  If you are travelling to Belize or Mexico and even the Bahamas most national parks will check to make sure you have suitable sunscreen to protect the environment so make sure you have the right products so the coral and marine life and prosper for as long as we do!!  Stay safe and double check.

You can further read about the study mentioned in first paragraph at:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10646-013-1161-y












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