Best Reef Safe Sunscreen, Ocean & Eco Friendly Brands List

Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50/80 Minutes Water...

Did you know that Hawaii passed a bill on May 1, 2018 that bans sale of sunscreens with dangerous chemicals to reefs? NOAA states sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate are indeed harmful to coral reefsEHP as well confirms that sunscreen chemicals may be causing coral bleaching.

Reef-safe sunscreen means that all ingredients in the product are not toxic to coral or other marine wildlife in the coral ecosystem.

Label wording such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Free don’t mean the sunscreen is reef-safe. Most chemical sunscreens are not reef safe despite lacking the aforementioned substances. Nano-size particles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can also damage corals.

The only reef safe sunscreens are those containing non-nano zincoxide or titanium dioxide and natural inactive ingredients.

Our Top "26" List: Best Reef Safe Sunscreens in 2020

top reef-safe sunscreen list in 2020
Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50/80 Minutes Water...

Acclaimed for its efficiency, the Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Sunscreen is truly reef safe – and not only on the label. Containing 25% non-nano particles of zinc oxide, it provides outstanding UVA and UVB protection while having zero impact on marine wildlife. 

Indeed, the brand contains no coral reefs or marine-toxic ingredients and meets the world’s strictest national standards, those of Palau - and this is why Kokua takes number one spot in our eco friendly reef safe sunscreen list

Non-toxic and eco-friendly, this sunscreen is also friendly for your skin. Its formula is enriched with 23 natural antioxidants that nourish and moisturize your derma while preventing the action of free radicals.

Kokua Sunscreen Ingredients

Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50/80 Minutes Water...

Boasting a 1 rating on EWG, it’s OK to use by babies 6 months and up, as well as by adults.

Thanks to its natural formulation, it can also be used by those with a compromised immune system or who suffer from skin allergies. 

Users declared it goes on smoothly and rubs in quickly until it disappears. It leaves no whitish residue on the skin, yet its protection lasts for hours. Lightweight, it doesn’t leave any nasty, greasy feel.

Kokua Sun Care is definitely not the cheapest sunscreen out there, but it delivers exceptional value for money. 

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Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, 6 Ounce

Top-rated by EWG since 2010, Thinksport Sunscreen is a brand considered as one of the best eco friendly sunscreens. Great to use by kids and adults alike, it contains 20% non-nano zinc oxide and is free of biologically harmful chemicals including parabens, phthalate, oxybenzone and avobenzone, as well as UV chemical absorbers.

It provides a broad spectrum coverage against UVA and UVB and boasts water resistance for up to 80 minutes. 

Besides the mineral active eco friendly sunscreen ingredients, Thinksport boasts an all-natural formulation that moisturizes and nourishes the skin. 

It’s fairly easy to apply and smells really nice, but it leaves some whitish residue on the skin. Washing it off, though, can be a pain, especially if you like to apply a thicker layer of sunscreen. 

Containing extracts of grapefruit and currant, Thinksport has a tangy, citrus smell that may be unpleasant to younger kids. If you like the formulation but want a more kid-friendly version, you could opt for the Thinkbaby or Thinksport Kids sunscreens, both of which are ecologically friendly sunscreens

All three formulations are the same except for the fragrance; indeed, the baby and kid formulas contain papaya rather than grapefruit and currant. 

Fairly priced, this sunscreen is also vegan-friendly and is not tested on animals. 

Thinksport is also the first sunscreen to pass whole foods premium care requirements

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Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Cream - 2.9 fl oz Tube

If you’re after a clear reef safe sunscreen that doesn’t cost your weight in gold and that goes clearer on the skin, the Badger clear zinc sunscreen could be it. 

Manufactured in the USA by a family-owned company, Badger contains clear zinc oxide in a concentration of 22.5% as the active ingredient. The inactive ingredients are certified organic and non-GMO, making the sunscreen suitable for the whole family. 

Its SPF 35 makes it a better choice for older kids and adults, though. Nevertheless, the broad-spectrum Badger sunblock protects against both UVA and UVB. 

Soothing and ultra-moisturizing, the sunscreen also acts to protect and nourish the skin. It’s lightweight and leaves no nasty oily feel. 

Badger Ingredients

Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Cream - 2.9 fl oz Tube

Users particularly like the lack of scents and fragrances, a feature that makes it suitable to use with your favorite perfume. However, the sunscreen doesn’t go as clear on the skin as the manufacturer claims, and it’s not so coral reef-safe as stated. 

Indeed, to make its sunscreen clearer, Badger used nano-sized zinc oxide particles, which are biodegradable but harmful for corals and other marine life. A valid alternative is the Badger Sports Sunscreen SPF 35, which contains the same ingredients but non-nano uncoated zinc oxide. 

Regardless of which version you buy, Badger is top-rated by EWG, certified cruelty-free, and water-resistant for at least 80 minutes. A great reef safe sunscreen for surfers, swimmers, and watersports athletes. 

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Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen | Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, 95% Organic,...

Reef-safe and cruelty-free, Raw Elements is a great choice for kids and adults alike, but perhaps not the most inspired pick for toddlers and infants due to its lower SPF factor. While Raw Elements packaging advertises the product as cerfitified natural sunscreen, please do not mix this with certified reef safe sunscreen - as such certification does not exist on a globally accepted level yet.

Indeed, this sunscreen has an SPF 30+; nevertheless, it provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB. Like most reef-safe sunscreens, it has non-nano zinc oxide as an active ingredient in a concentration of 23%. An array of inactive organic ingredients make it gentle on skin and moisturizing. 

Soy, gluten, and nut-free, it’s also suitable to use by those suffering from allergies. Furthermore, not only sunscreen is coral reef-safe; the whole product is environmentally friendly. 

In fact, the Raw Elements sun screen brand comes in biodegradable and recyclable packaging. 

Raw Elements Ingredients

Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen | Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, 95% Organic,...

This performance-driven sunscreen is top-rated by EWG just like the Badger brand; the water-resistant formula lasts for up to 80 minutes even while swimming. 

It doesn’t have the best smell, but it becomes odorless upon application. The formula also remains clear on the skin. 

Criticism regards the packaging and the consistency of the sunscreen rather than its efficiency. Apparently, it’s quite a struggle to squeeze it out of the tube and apply it evenly. Nevertheless, most users appreciate that you can use it on both face and body. 

Parents were also satisfied with how well this brand protected their kids. A good environmental sunscreen and not harmful to coral reefs, Raw Elements is a great choice for days at the beach or a tropical vacation.

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All Good Sport Sunscreen Lotion - Zinc Oxide - Coral Reef Safe - Water Resistant...

All Good Hawaii Coral Safe Sunscreen is another excellent reef-safe brand to consider. Containing 12% non-nano zinc oxide particles, it doesn’t leave a strong whitish sheen on your skin, and some users claim it’s even clearer than the Badger. 

Formulated for active adults, it’s a great choice for watersports, including diving and snorkeling. Offering a broad spectrum SPF 30 UVA and UVB protection, it resists water and sweat for up to 80 minutes. 

Top rated by EWG, this unscented lotion also contains organic green tea and rosehip oils that can repair damaged skin. 

Despite the sports in its title, the lotion is also suitable for kids. It’s vegan, coral reef-friendly, and gluten-free. 

If you need a sun screen brand specifically for children, though, the baby formula could be a better choice. It contains almost the same ingredients but replaces the green tea and rosehip oils with chamomile extracts. This formula is more suitable for youngsters as well as adults with very sensitive skin. 

While it provides decent coverage, some users have judged this lotion as hard to blend; seemingly, applying some moisturizer before the sunscreen could ease up the process and reduce the whitish sheen. 

It’s a bit on the expensive side considering the size of the tube; nevertheless, this is another great reef-safe sunscreen to throw in your beach backpack.

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BABO Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, 100% Mineral Active,...

Babo Botanical impresses with its clearer look despite containing non-nano zinc oxide particles. Developed for babies, kids, and people with super-sensitive skin, this mineral sunscreen is hypoallergenic and soy, dairy, and gluten-free. 

The lotion is developed for the face, nose, lips, and ears, but it’s been successfully used for whole-body protection for both kids and adults. 

Relatively cheap compared to other options, it’s top-rated as secure for both humans and enviro friendly by EWG. 

With a concentration of 19% of non-nano zinc oxide, it provides SPF 30 broad-spectrum protection. 

The product also contains an array of certified organic ingredients known for their skin-repairing properties. 

Ideal to use at the beach or for watersports, the Babo Botanicals sunscreen is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. 

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Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate &...

We often get the question - Are sun bum products reef safe? The Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion is advertised as good for adults and kids of all ages. However, the presence of fragrance and some chemicals make it a tad less suitable for infants, toddlers, and people with hypersensitive skin or suffering from allergies. 

Indeed, it’s rated 2 by the EWG because of the fragrance and phenoxyethanol.

Apart from this downside, the lotion contains a host of natural ingredients and, with a concentration of 20% zinc oxide, it’s also not harmful to coral reefs. At least theoretically, that is, because the manufacturer doesn’t specify the size of the particles. 

Sun Bum Ingredients

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate &...

Given the reef-safe claim on the tube and the fact that the lotion is slightly tinted, we tend to believe they are non-nano particles. 

According to its users, the lotion applies easily but has quite a strong “nail salon” fragrance you may or may not like. Despite the tint, it also goes on a bit whitish. 

Perhaps not the best mineral sunscreen out there, the Sun Bum is still a valid alternative if you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly yet effective product. 

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Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen – No Chemical Actives – SPF 30+...

From the Australian brand Blue Lizard, this allegedly not harmful to coral reefs sunscreen is approved for older kids and adults, but we wouldn’t recommend it for infants, toddlers, or people with sensitive skin. 

The reason is the hybrid chemical-mineral formulation. This sunscreen lotion has two active ingredients, containing 4% octocrylene and 9.7% zinc oxide. Whereas the former is not known to harm the corals, the manufacturer doesn’t disclose the size of the zinc oxide particles. As such, it’s hard to tell whether this product really is coral-safe. 

Blue Lizard Ingredients

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen – No Chemical Actives – SPF 30+...

Furthermore, the octocrylene, as well as some of the other inactive ingredients, can cause rashes and allergic reactions in youngsters and people with sensitive skin. 

If you don’t mind the partially chemical composition (same considerations - blue lizard vs sun bum) and don’t plan to bath or swim excessively in coral areas, you might like this product though. 

It goes smoothly on the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy feel. Slightly whitish at first, it becomes clear as it absorbs into the skin. The mineral ingredient ensures broad-spectrum protection, and the product is even water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. 

This sunscreen provides SPF 30+ protection when applied correctly and is fragrance-free. Not great for a vacation in tropical places, it’s undoubtedly a great general-use sunscreen to put on when spending time outdoors under the summer sun.

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Mama Kuleana Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 30, Waterproof, 2 oz.

Mama Kuleana might not be the cheapest sunscreen out there; but if you care about your health and the health of our oceans, it’s undeniably a great choice. 

Manually made in Maui, Hawaii, this reef-safe sunscreen contains no harmful chemicals. Most of its ingredients are organic, and as all coral reef-friendly product, it contains non-nano zinc powder. However, the brand doesn’t disclose its concentration.

It goes white on the skin; however, we like that the brand is very straightforward about this aspect. Perhaps the only downside is the price, considering the package size. 

Mama Kuleana Ingredients

Mama Kuleana Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 30, Waterproof, 2 oz.

Mama Kulena is an environmentally friendly sunscreen which is ideal for all ages. It provides broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. This means you’ll have to apply it slightly more often than other sunscreens. 

Users also praise the brand’s attempt to cut off pollution on all levels. Indeed, the lotion comes in cardboard rather than a plastic container. The container is biodegradable making it a great choice for one of the best sunblock for environment

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SurfDurt Original Durt SPF 30+ Engraved Bamboo 2oz Tan

There are quite a few things to like about this reef-safe sunscreen by SurfDurt. Ideal for people of all ages, it provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB SPF 30 coverage. It’s gentle on the skin and boasts an innovative formulation that only contains food-grade ingredients besides the 23% non-nano zinc oxide. 

Environmentally friendly, it comes in a 2oz bamboo container that’s reusable and biodegradable. Furthermore, the sunscreen is made in an eco-sustainable facility running on solar energy. 

But the best part is that it’s tan instead of white. It’s still visible on the skin, but it looks less awkward than the ones on a biodegradable sunscreen list

There seem to be mixed feelings about its chocolate smell; some love it. Others claim they would have expected a more refreshing, summer scent. Whether you like it or not, it’s hard to deny this product’s effectiveness. 

Blocking the sun rays in all environments, it’s water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes. 

Thanks to the absence of any synthetic chemicals and hormone disruptors, this product is also a wise choice for children. 

Like most physical sun blockers, it may stain your clothes if you don’t pay attention when applying it. Other than that, though, the product has no flaws. It’s not yet rated by the EWG; nevertheless, it’s one of the top coralsafe sunscreens you can get. 

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Amavara Mineral Sunscreen – Transparent Zinc Oxide, Reef Safe,...

Amavara found a great compromise between cosmetic appeal and reef-safe ingredients, and its Mineral Sunscreen facial lotion is an excellent choice for children and adults alike. 

Manufactured in the US, it only contains naturally-sourced non-nano zinc oxide in a concentration of 19%. It provides SPF 30+ broad-spectrum protection, and thanks to its neutral tint, it goes completely clear on the skin. 

Users also like how easy it is to apply. It has the consistency of body lotion; it isn’t too thick nor too thin and blends in easily. 

Amavara Ingredients

Amavara Mineral Sunscreen – Transparent Zinc Oxide, Reef Safe,...

Professionally tested and approved to be used by people with allergies, it’s rated 2 by EWG, it’s cruelty free reef safe

Not only Amavara is rated as one of top sunscreens for environment, the company further protects the environment by making the packaging from recycled plastic. The product is good for all ages and all types of skin. 

Furthermore, it’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, thus ideal to use while soaking in the ocean or during water sports. Made for the face, it’s not irritating for the eyes, and it can also be used successfully on the rest of the body. Just make sure to shake it well before applying.

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MANDA Organic Sun Creme - SPF 50 Sunscreen

MANDA Organic sunscreen is one of the most expensive lotions out there, but it’s well worth the price. 

Ideal for children 6 months old and over, as well as for adults, this all-natural sun crème contains only food-grade ingredients; it’s a top sunscreen safe for ocean while it provides SPF 50 UVA and UVB protection. 

More than a crème, this sunscreen is a thick paste that leaves a visible layer on your skin. However, it’s not as white as other products out there, so you won’t risk looking like Casper on the beach. 

Natural organic ingredients apart, people love that it contains thanaka in this high spf reef safe sunscreen. This is a natural ingredient originally from Myanmar and commonly used as a natural cosmetic and sunscreen by the indigenous population. 

Manda Ingredients

MANDA Organic Sun Creme - SPF 50 Sunscreen

Apparently, this substance also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. 

Containing 23% non-nano zinc oxide and no chemicals, this sunscreen is also safe to use in coral reefs zones. 

Although the product is not waterproof, users have claimed it resists well in water. Like most paste sunscreens, it’s somewhat annoying to spread on your skin; the great part, however, is that you can use it on both face and body. 

With an environmentally-conscious approach, the brand also chose its package carefully. This sunscreen comes in a biodegradable type of plastic made from sugar cane, and that is not harmful to the environment. Moreover, the packaging is also recyclable. 

Natural, hypoallergenic, and safe for everyone, including marine life and tiny humans, this is an excellent sunscreen to get if you don’t mind its heftier price. 

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KLAR Pure Zinc Oxide SPF 30 Face & Body Sunscreen, NSF/USDA Certified Organic,...

Another coral reef-safe sunscreen that has made it to our list, the KLAR Pure Zinc Oxide SPF 30 is a perfect choice for your whole family. It’s hypoallergenic and ideal for infants, kids, and adults. 

As clearly indicated by its name, it provides SPF 30 protection; it contains 20% non-nano uncoated zinc oxide, and like all zinc  sunscreen, it provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB. 

More than a beach sunscreen, this is an all-rounder suitable to use daily, even on adventures at high altitude or for beach and watersports. 

It resists sweat and water for up to 80 minutes, but users claim it washes off faster. Some even claimed you could achieve the best protection by reapplying every half an hour if you plan to stay a lot in the water. 

The product is dermatologically tested on human volunteers, but completely cruelty-free. However, if you’re looking for a vegan sunscreen, this one might not be it despite the company’s claims. Indeed, this sunscreen contains beeswax.

Although it is not rated by EWG, the organic formula is certified by the QAI to NSF/ANSI 305 standard and holds the NSF Organic certification. 

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TruKid Sunny Days Sport SPF 30 Plus Reef Safe Water-resistant UVA/UVB Sunscreen...

A mineral sunscreen lotion for kids, TruKid Sunny Days Sport offers SPF 30+ broad-spectrum protection and is a great choice for the whole family. 

Rated 1 by EWG, it contains no potentially harmful ingredients. Indeed, the formula is all-natural, hypoallergenic, and not harmful for people with eczema. 

With 20% non-nano zinc oxide, TruKid is also coral reefs and is one of the best environmentally safe sunscreens. Furthermore, organic ingredients such as jojoba oil and aloe extracts also moisturize and repair damaged skin. 

TruKid Ingredients

TruKid Sunny Days Sport SPF 30 Plus Reef Safe Water-resistant UVA/UVB Sunscreen...

The product has excellent water resistance for up to 80 minutes; it’s also cruelty-free and tested by both pediatricians and dermatologists. 

Those using this sunscreen love how easy it is to apply compared to other physical sun barriers. It goes on smoothly and is unscented, so it won’t bother younger kids or hypersensitive people. Some feel it may come off quicker than advertised, but you should reapply the product when you come out of the water anyway. 

It will look white on your skin, but that’s a small price to pay if you want all-round protection for all ages.

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Stream2Sea Reef Safe Sport Sunscreen SPF 30, Natural, Water Resistant,...

Formulated for face and body, the Stream2Sea Sport Sunscreen Lotion is deemed as not harmful for the kids but more suitable for adults. 

Unlike the other sunscreens above, it doesn’t contain zinc oxide. Instead, it contains 8.8% non-nano titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Due to the lower concentration of powder, the product is more cosmetically appealing. 

It’s not completely clear, but it’s surely clearer than zinc oxide on the skin. The only issue is that titanium dioxide might not be as coral friendly as scientists originally believed. 

Strem2Sea Ingredients

Stream2Sea Reef Safe Sport Sunscreen SPF 30, Natural, Water Resistant,...

Due to the lack of solid research, you can still use this product in most coral-friendly places. 

Rated 2 by EWG, the product is not completely natural. Some ingredients to pay attention to if you have sensitive skin or allergies are the benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, and sorbic acid. 

These ingredients apart, the product is rich in antioxidants and provides SPF 30 protection against both UVA and UVB. 

It may not be the best choice for youngsters and not the most reef-friendly sunscreen, but it’s still an affordable choice for your beach holidays. 

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Raw Love All Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35 Safe for Reefs Diving Reef...

Made in Hawaii from natural ingredients, this all-natural mineral sunscreen is not only good for the corals, but it’s also good for your skin. It contains 23% non-nano zinc oxide and provides SPF 35+ protection. 

Ideal for all ages and types of skin, it goes on smoothly despite its very concentrated formulation. 

Like most sunscreens on this list, it’s sweat and water-resistant. Just keep in mind that it’s really white on the skin, despite the brand’s claims that it rubs on clear like many other top coral reef friendly sunscreen brands

A great choice for those who like watersports, it has a rather short shelf life due to the plant-based ingredients. 

Most users declared themselves happy with the level of protection provided; they also praise the product for its nice scent. Some people feel the 4-ounce container is just too little. Indeed, this sunscreen is not the cheapest. 

Nevertheless, if you want to stay as ocean- and environmentally-safe as possible, this natural mineral sunscreen is one of your best options.

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Sea & Summit Mineral Based Moisturizing Sunscreen, UVA/UVB Protection, SPF 36,...

Containing only six organic ingredients, vitamin E, and 10% non-nano zinc oxide, this mineral-based moisturizing sunscreen by Sea & Summit is one of the brands of reef safe sunscreen you can try. 

It’s formulated for people of all ages, including young children, and provides UVA/UVB broad-spectrum SPF 36+ protection. Indeed, the manufacturer claims that during its clinical testing, the product resulted in an SPF 40 for some subjects. 

Sea & Summit Ingredients

Sea & Summit Mineral Based Moisturizing Sunscreen, UVA/UVB Protection, SPF 36,...

Packed as a face stick, it’s OK to use all over your body and is very easy to apply. It goes on smoothly and only leaves a faint, whitish tint that can be easily rubbed into the skin. 

Clearer than many reef-safe sunscreens out there, it’s particularly suitable for older kids and adults who don’t want to look too whitish. 

Good for the environment and the coral reefs, this sunscreen also comes in a tinted version and as a lotion. 

Regardless of your choice, all formulations are chemical-free, cruelty-free, and packed in sustainable sunscreen packaging. 

Not rated by EWG yet but praised by its users, this is an excellent choice for you and your entire family.

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Face Sunscreen SPF 20 - Mineral Sunscreen Face, Reef Safe Sunscreen With Natural...

Ladies looking for a cosmetically appealing mineral sunscreen might like this tinted sunscreen for the face from Beauty by Earth. 

Similar to a foundation, it covers minor skin imperfection while providing SPF 20 UVA and UVB protection. It also acts as a moisturizer and contains 11% non-nano zinc oxide particles. 

While the tinted product is more appealing to women, it can also be used on kids of all ages thanks to its organic ingredients and natural formulation. At the same time, the product is coral reef and environmentally safe. 

This mineral sunblock comes in three colors you can match with your skin shade, but it’s not suitable for all types of skin. Its moisturizing action makes it ideal for people with drier skin, but it may cause breakouts on normal or oilier skin due to the coconut oil. 

Ideal for daily use, it also has anti-aging properties and is one of the few vegan-friendly, water-resistant sunscreens you can come across. 

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Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Stick - Uncommonly Safe Sunscreen for Everyone and...

Chemical-free, cruelty-free, and certified organic, the Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Stick is one of the best products you can use for your kids. It contains 25% non-nano zinc oxide and only other four certified organic ingredients. 

Deemed as reef-friendly, it’s good to use in all places where chemical sunscreens have been banned, as well as on all other beaches. The solid formulation makes it easier to spread on than a lotion, and the product blends in fairly clear compared to other coral-safe sunscreens. 

Waxhead Ingredients

Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Stick - Uncommonly Safe Sunscreen for Everyone and...

It’s seemingly easier to apply when it’s slightly cooler, so you shouldn’t keep it in the sun. However, keep in mind that it may take a bit of effort to blend it in. 

The coconut oil makes it more suitable for people with drier skin. There seem to be mixed feelings about the sweet vanilla scent of this sunscreen. Some users like it, while others feel a fresher, more summery scent would have been a better choice. 

Non-irritating and hypoallergenic, this sunblock is top-rated by EWG and approved to use by the whole family. Excellently priced for its size, it’s also carry-on friendly, so you won’t have to worry about carrying liquid sunscreen in your luggage. 

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Goddess Garden - Sport SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - Sensitive Skin, Reef...

Goddess Garden Sport is a top-rated mineral sunscreen by EWG. Containing 20% non-nano zincoxide as an active ingredient, it’s reef-safe and offers broad-spectrum protection. 

It’s great for the whole family, including babies and toddler, but you should know that it contains phenoxyethanol, a substance that could cause skin irritation and allergies. 

Boasting a gentle and effective formula, this sunblock also provides up to 80 minutes of water resistance. 

Goddess Garden Ingredients

Goddess Garden - Sport SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - Sensitive Skin, Reef...

Perhaps the most praised feature is how easy it goes on the skin. It’s ultra-sheer when applied but not excessively white; indeed, most women have found they can wear it under the makeup without looking awkward. 

This also makes it more suitable for older kids, who might not like anymore the white kid's sunscreen. 

Although unscented, it has a slight natural smell that pleases most users. According to the manufacturer, the product blends in easier if you apply it on moisturized skin. 

Besides coral friendly and reef-safe, we also like that it’s vegan-friendly and certified cruelty-free. 

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MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield Liquid Tint SPF 50 Nude- Oil-Free Daily...

If you’re looking for a sheer tinted, oil-free SPF formula that’s reef-safe and provides broad-spectrum sun protection, you should check out the MyChelle Sun Shield Liquid Tint. 

This mineral sunscreen contains 16.1% non-nano zinc oxide and is formulated to blend seamlessly on the skin and match your skin tone. It comes in Nude or Natural Tan colors, suitable for light/medium or medium/dark tones, respectively. 

Thanks to its liquid formulation, it’s also easier to apply than most mineral sunscreens. Indeed, some users even complained about it being too watery. Apparently, the dispenser container it comes in is also a hassle to use. 

Top rated by EWG, it still contains some chemical ingredients; however, all are deemed as coral-friendly and safe for marine wildlife. 

Ideal for everyday use, the product is not water-resistant, but it doesn’t wash off easily either. You could use it at the beach if you plan to limit your time in the water, but remember to reapply after swimming or when sweating excessively. 

Due to the chemicals present in it, we wouldn’t recommend it for the kids. In fact, there are a host of mineral sunscreens more appropriate for the youngsters. 

All in all, though, this is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a cosmetically appealing mineral sunscreen that doesn’t look too whitish on the skin. 

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Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion SPF 50, 3 Ounce |...

The Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion is a great choice if you’re looking for an excellent mineral sunblock that doesn’t look whitish on skin. 

However, its allegedly eco-friendly sun protection formulation contains an impressive amount of chemical ingredients. It’s rated only 6 by EWG, and we wouldn’t recommend it for the kids despite the claims made by the company. 

That said, this sunscreen is really effective and does what it’s supposed to do. Tested by both dermatologists and pediatricians, it’s considered hypoallergenic and suitable to use on all types of skin. 

Australian Gold Ingredients

Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion SPF 50, 3 Ounce |...

It’s not tested on animals, which is a big plus, and it’s also dye and fragrance-free. 

If you’re planning a vacation in coral-reef areas, however, you’d better opt for a more environmentally-conscious product. Currently, it’s deemed as reef-safe, but some studies highlighted that titanium dioxide – one of this product’s active ingredients – may harm corals. 

Indeed, while this is a 100% mineral block, it contains 4% non-nano zinc oxide and 4% titanium dioxide. 

Despite the many drawbacks, users like it because it leaves no white residue and it’s easy to apply. Watersports lovers also like that it resists water for up to 80 minutes. 

Ultimately, the choice is down to you; in our opinion, though, there are many valid products out there that could replace it. 

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TotLogic Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, 3 oz | Biodegradable Reef Safe Zinc...

Many parents appreciate the TotLogic Natural Mineral Sunscreen. Containing 20% non-nano zinc oxide, it provides broad-spectrum protection, and it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. 

However, despite its big, natural label and despite being top rated by EWG, it still contains a bunch of chemicals. 

Luckily, none are harmful to the coral reefs and marine wildlife, but some may trigger rashes or skin allergies. 

With that in mind, the product is still a great choice for older kids and adults. It’s also reef-safe and suitable to use in most tropical areas. Sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, it’s also suitable for anyone who practices watersports. 

TotLogic Ingredients

TotLogic Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, 3 oz | Biodegradable Reef Safe Zinc...

Rich in botanicals and antioxidants, this travel-sized mineral sunscreen has soothing, moisturizing, and anti-aging action. 

Undoubtedly, a great choice for older kids and adults who don’t like the whitish sheen on their skin. 

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Sunblocz Baby and Kids Mineral Sunscreen, 50 SPF - Natural, Organic Sunblock,...

Reef safe, leaping bunny certified, and top-rated by EWG, the Sunblocz Baby + Kids Mineral Sunscreen is one of the best choices for your kids. It contains one of the highest concentration of non-nano zincoxide, 24.5%, and it provides SPF 50 broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB. 

Besides the mineral ingredient, this water-resistant formula is also rich in antioxidants, hypoallergenic, and not harmful to use by people suffering from eczema or who have hypersensitive skin.

Parents praise the formula that contains lavender and rosemary essential oils, two substances that can repel mosquitoes and other insects. The product is also easy to apply, it doesn’t leave greasy residues on the skin, and it smells lovely. 

Like most mineral sunscreens, it will leave a whitish glare. Nevertheless, this is a great choice for kids of all ages and adults in search of a coral reef-safe sunblock.

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SolThera Premium Sunscreen (Natural Mineral Sunscreen, Kids, Reef Safe, Coral...

The SolThera Premium Sunscreen is a kids-friendly, natural product, but not the safest for the coral reefs. 

It contains two active ingredients, 6% titanium oxide and 6% non-nano zinc oxide, and the former might not be as reef-friendly as originally thought. 

Apart from this, the formula developed by two San Diego scientists is great for kids, watersports, and other outdoor activities. Enriched with antioxidants, the product moisturizes and nourishes the skin. 

SolThera Ingredients

SolThera Premium Sunscreen (Natural Mineral Sunscreen, Kids, Reef Safe, Coral...

It goes on smoothly, and it’s clearer than other mineral sunscreens on the market. Offering broad-spectrum protection, it’s also vegan and cruelty-free. 

This sunscreen has a faint coconut scent most children like. Maybe this isn’t the best sunscreen for the beach, but it surely is for many outdoor activities.

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Skinnies Sungel SPF30 Eco Sunscreen, 3.4oz UVA UVB, Not Diluted With Water, Reef...

If you really can’t stand the whitish sheen of mineral sunscreen, you could check out Skinnies Sungel. It’s an allegedly eco friendly sun block yet chemical sunscreen that’s reef-safe and provides SPF 30 protection. 

This chemical sunblock can be used in most places that have sunscreen bans in place, except for Palau, due to the presence of octocrylene and other chemicals.

Different from all other sunscreens on this list, this waterless sunscreen gel is tinted and blends wonderfully with your skin tone. The product is hypoallergenic and OK to use by kids of all ages and pregnant women. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free. 

Skinnies Ingredients

Skinnies Sungel SPF30 Eco Sunscreen, 3.4oz UVA UVB, Not Diluted With Water, Reef...

Water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and providing broad-spectrum protection, it’s also great to use at the beach. 

Users have mixed feelings about this product, and frankly, we do too. It’s a chemical, non-biodegradable product that allegedly doesn’t harm corals, but that could damage other marine life. 

Great if all you need is a clear sunscreen that’s not visible when applied but not as environmentally-friendly as its mineral counterparts, this could be a great chemical yet reefs safe alternative to the other sunscreens on this list. 

Buyers Guide to Reef and Coral Safe, Biodegradable Sunscreens

What Chemicals In Sunscreen Are Bad For Coral Reefs?

While research regarding the effects of common cosmetic chemicals on corals and marine life is still ongoing, researchers have identified 11 chemical ingredients that can damage and potentially kill coral reefs. You should avoid sunscreens containing:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate 
  • 4-methyl benzylidene camphor
  • Ethylparaben
  • Octocrylene
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Methylparaben
  • Triclosan
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Benzylparaben

Plastic microbeads used in some products and nanoparticles of minerals like titanium dioxide are also harmful to corals.

No sunscreen is 100% safe for marine life, oceans, and coral reefs in particular. However, some sunscreen brands (specifically sunscreen without oxybenzone and octinoxate) are significantly more friendly compared to sunscreen with dangerous ingredients. 
So once again here is a summary of the sunscreen ingredients to look for and chemicals to avoid in sunscreen while choosing a not harmful and a natural sunblock ocean:

  1. Top ingredient to look for in a reef-safe sunscreen is almost always non nano zinc oxide.
  2. Top dangerous sunscreen ingredient to avoid are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Make sure to carefully read the label to confirm your product is oxybenzone and octinoxate free.
  3. Avoid butylparaben, octinoxate, triclosan, PABA, octocrylene,  and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor in sunscreen ingredients. Remember a non oxybenzone sunscreen is a must. 
  4. Water resistant sunscreens are better as less ingredients will wash of your body and face into the ocean - so if you are looking for sunscreen for swimming, snorkeling or diving, check the water resistance duration on label.
  5. Parabens - another big NO - paraben free sunscreen is good for the ocean and good for sunscreen safety for your face and body.
  6. Check if the sunscreen brand "claims" their products are “reef safe / friendly" or "coral reefs safe / friendly". If you are going to be in Hawaii OahuKona or any other favorite snorkeling beaches, make sure to comply with Hawaiian reef safe sunscreen laws.

Why Reef Safe Sunscreens Matter?

BABO Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, 100% Mineral Active,...

Scientists have conducted many types of research in the past decade investigating how the tons of sunscreen that wash off our bodies into the ocean each year affect marine life. According to their studies, chemical sunscreens threaten the entire marine ecosystem.

Making an eco-savvy choice, and choosing your sunblock from the coral reef safe sunscreen list matter. And not only for the corals.

Here’s five reasons why you should use it:

1. Chemical Sunscreen Can Awaken Coral Viruses

Sunscreens washed off into the ocean each year change the chemical composition of the water and make it a thriving place for viruses and bacteria. Some of these viruses attack corals, causing them to expel their life-giving algae, a situation that causes coral bleaching.

Not only the algae is expelled; when this process happens, the tiny, colorful organism explodes. This helps the viruses spread to the surrounding coral communities. 

2. Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients Can Bleach or Kill Corals

Apart from the action of viruses, research has also shown that some ingredients in chemical sunscreens can cause coral bleaching and potentially kill these organisms.

While most countries implementing sunscreen bans fight against oxybenzone and octinoxate alone, scientists have identified that butylparaben and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor can also have a similar action.

Using a sunscreen free of these ingredients is essential if we want to preserve the integrity of the marine ecosystem.

3. Chemical Sunscreen Can Harm More Than Corals

The compounds that cause coral bleaching can also affect other forms of marine life. Fish are also affected by oxybenzone and octinoxate.

These substances act as hormone disruptors and induce feminization in male fish. This leads to the interruption of their sexual activity, affecting the reproduction of many species

4. Sunscreen Pollution Threatens Local Economies

The death of coral reefs leaves many species of fish and crustaceans without a habitat; a situation that leads to the death of this marine wildlife. Combined with the affected fish reproduction, chemical sunscreens contribute to the extinction of many fish species.

This has two important consequences. On the one hand, famous diving spots become sterile and unattractive. 
On the other hand, less fish means less fishing possibilities for local businesses who base their subsistence on fishing.

Since most coral reefs areas depend on fishing and tourism, their disappearance would mean the extinction of these local communities.

5. Chemical Sunscreens Are Bad For Humans Too

Chemicals in sunscreen are not only bad for the environment. They are bad for humans too. Besides rashes and allergic reactions, researchers also investigate the carcinogenic effects of both oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Other chemicals typically used in these products also act as hormone disruptors and can affect both fetuses if used by pregnant women as well as infants and toddlers.

Considering the negative impact chemical sunscreens have on both us and the environment, changing our habits and using an eco-friendly approach matters.

Natural mineral sunscreens are undoubtedly a better choice; furthermore, you can use other eco-friendly ways to protect yourself from the sun while also safeguarding the global economy and our ecosystem. 

Sunscreen Safe for Ocean...Down to You...

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 in my research for but I feel with "reef safe" sunscreen the research had to be much deeper.

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 often hear the terms reef safe sunscreen, biodegradable sunscreen, coral safe sun screen and ocean friendly sunscreen and these really are the future of this industry to help all of us stay healthy and protect the environment while being not harmful for coral reefs.

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. Always question products as well because just because it says “reef safe” or “coral safe” - look at the ingredients to make sure! 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 prosper for as long as we do!!

Have fun and remember to double check the sunscreen ingredients and the label - each of our decisions matter to save the coral reefs!

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Frequently Asked Questions
What sunscreens are banned in Hawaii?

Currently, Hawaii bans those sunscreens containing oxybenzone and/or octinoxate, but it allows the use of all other chemical or mineral sunscreens. The only exception to the rule is the prescription sunscreens, which can still be used even if they contain one or both banned substances. The sunscreen ban in Hawaii will take effect on January 1, 2021.

What kind of sunscreen is safe for coral reefs?

According to the existing studies, the only sunscreen safe for coral reefs is the mineral sunscreen with non-nano size zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Non-nano sized particles mean they have a dimension of 100 nanometers or more, and can’t be ingested by corals.

Is mineral sunscreen reef friendly?

Mineral sunscreen is typically considered to be reef-friendly; however, research has shown that mineral sunscreens containing nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can still cause coral bleaching, as corals can ingest the tiny mineral particles. Furthermore, nanoparticles washed in the ocean can also react with the UV rays and form hydrogen peroxide, a compound that can kill phytoplankton - a vital nutrient to many species of fish and corals. Thus, only the mineral sunscreen with non-nano particles is reef-friendly.

Is avobenzone reef safe?

Research regarding the effects of avobenzone on corals is not yet conclusive; however, preliminary studies indicate that this compound might not be reef-safe. Besides, avobenzone also offers scarce UV protection; this compound breaks down quickly and lets sneaky UV rays reach your skin. Using a natural mineral sunscreen is the safest option for both you and the environment.

Is zinc oxide sunscreen reef safe?

Zinc oxide sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen typically considered reef safe. However, recent research indicates that nanoparticles of zinc oxide can be ingested by corals, causing coral bleaching and subsequently coral death. Therefore, only those sunscreens containing non-nano particles of zinc oxide are reef safe.

Is titanium dioxide safe in sunscreen?

Titanium oxide is a physical sun blocker that is safe for both humans and marine wildlife. This mineral, when used in its non-nano form, can’t be ingested by corals and doesn’t react with the UV rays in the same way it reacts when used in its nanoparticle form. Non-nano particles are also too big to be ingested by coral, small fish, and crustaceans. Because titanium dioxide is not absorbed into the skin, it doesn’t provoke allergic reactions and is overall safer to use than chemical sunscreen by kids and people suffering from skin allergies or sensitivity.

Can I take sunscreen to Hawaii?

Yes. You can definitely take sunscreen to Hawaii. Hawaii’s sunscreen ban is causing a lot of confusion because people believe all types of sunscreens are banned. However, the bill only bans those sunscreens containing oxybenzone and/or octinoxate. As long as your sunscreen doesn’t contain any of these two compounds – or as long as you have a medical prescription for a sunscreen containing one or both of these substances – you can take your favorite sunscreen to Hawaii.

Is spray sunscreen bad for the environment?

Yes. Spray sunscreens are bad for both you and the environment. Recent studies have shown that even if spray sunscreens don’t contain chlorofluorocarbons anymore, they still contain a bunch of other chemicals that are bad for the environment and that can trigger an allergic reaction. The mist of spray can also be inhaled, and the particles that fall on the sand can be washed into the ocean quicker. According to EWG, you should avoid spray sunscreen entirely.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Jenna - April 10, 2019

Please Remove Sun Bum- it is not reef safe. It is the only one that is not a mineral based sunscreen and very misleading. Also Raw Love Sunscreen from Maui is another great choice and plastic free! Thanks

    Margit Chhan - August 21, 2019

    I am a mother and this helped me!

    zmovs - November 7, 2019

    One way to ensure that a formula won t irritate skin? Being able to pronounce most of the ingredients on the label is a good start. Love Sun Body s sunscreen is made with 100 percent naturally derived ingredients like non-nano zinc and titanium oxide, glycerin, vitamin E, along with almond, coconut, and sunflower oils for an ultra-moisturizing texture.

Laura Wright - July 11, 2019

Would you please look into Sand Cloud? It is a fantastic sunscreen that is reef safe? Also, can you NOT use EWG? They promote half-truths and inflate the harmful rating of various chemicals. A better resource would be Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, a non-profit scientific organization dedicated to increasing the scientific, social and economic knowledge of natural environmental habitats in order to better conserve and restore threatened environmental habitats and resources. Thank you.

Aimeedanger - July 23, 2019

Every single one of these comes in a disposable, non-reusable plastic container. Are you kidding me? Plastics are killing marine life, choking and clogging up ecosystems, and doing who knows what else. Please list sunscreen that is actually safe for marine life. The product inside is just one aspect of it.

    fr - August 14, 2019

    not every one…. look again

Ashlee - September 15, 2019

Are there any that don’t have zinc in them? My personal research so far hasn’t found any and I am highly allergic to zinc

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