15 Awesome Zero Waste + Reef Safe Sunscreens

After the sunscreen ban in Hawai’i and many other uproars about the ingredients in our sunscreens, it has been one of my biggest priorities to find reef-safe and zero waste sunscreens that are effective and won’t cause harm to my body or the oceans. The health of our oceans doesn’t just stop at coral reefs, so I have also ensured that these sunscreens are zero waste and plastic-free as well. Whoop whoop! By supporting these brands, you’re supporting a greener Earth, a cleaner body, and locally owned companies all around the world.  I am a big believer in products and companies that are passionate about the earth and their consumers, and each of these fifteen sunscreens has their own story with a passion for their company that shines. If you’re on the hunt for a reef safe sunscreen, or if you already have one and want some other awesome recommendations, these products are incredible and they will protect your skin all summer long. If you fall in love with any of these, please share with me in the comments at the end of this post!

Interested in leading a more sustainable life? Check out these awesome resources!

 


 

6 things you should look for in a sunscreen

no harmful ingredients / reef safe 

Over the years, many commercial sunscreen companies have gotten away with selling chemical-based sunscreens to the masses, but there has since been shed a huge spotlight on this malpractice. Chemical-based sunscreens use one or more of these toxic ingredients in their formulas: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. These ingredients are not only detrimental to the health of our oceans, but for our own health as well. I realize that I am no expert in sunscreen logistics, so Wellness Mama has an incredible article about why you should avoid chemical sunscreens. As for the reefs, the chemicals in these sunscreens, particularly oxybenzone, leech into the corals and other reef life, much like they leech into our skin, and it leads to the corals bleaching (dying). If sunscreen leeches into corals and causes them to suffer, what is it doing to us?

Helpful Resources

 

at least SPF 30

Many people believe that the higher the SPF, the higher protection you have from getting a sunburn, which isn’t particularly true. Once I learned how sunscreen works, it was clear to me that I didn’t have to have SPF 100+ to prevent myself from getting a sunburn. To put it in perspective, SPF 15 filters out about 93% of all UVB rays while SPF 30 filters 97% and SPF 50 filters out 98%. No sunscreen can ever filter 100% of harmful rays and it’s important that we reapply and use other methods of protecting our skin while we’re out. If you have sensitive skin or burn easily, that 4% or 1% might be of importance, but if we apply sunscreen as recommended, cover-up, and seek shade, gnarly burns can be prevented. SPF 30 is the common denominator among most of these sunscreens listed below, but they also recommend applying every 1-2 hours and other methods of protecting your skin.

 

broad spectrum protection

The sun’s rays come in three flavors: UVA, UVB, and UBC. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to worry about UVC since our ozone protects us from them, but the other two can take a toll on our bodies. UVA and UVB rays cause aging, wrinkling, skin cancer, and eye damage, so it’s important that you protect your skin from both of those things. The simple solution is grabbing a sunscreen that has broad-spectrum protection. This means that it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.

 

(not) a non-spray formula

Not only do spray-on sunscreens contain most of those chemicals I listed above, but often times they are misused. By using a spray-on sunscreen, you don’t see just how much sunscreen you’re putting on and most people don’t abide by the cautions on the sides of the can: do not apply in windy conditions, use in a well-ventilated area, avoid inhaling or exposing others to spray, keep away from face to avoid breathing. There have been many times where I recall smelling and feeling a spray-on sunscreen from across the beach or pool because someone was lathering themselves or their kid up with it. Spray-on sunscreen is just as dangerous as chemical-based sunscreens, not only for yourself but the people you’re surrounding when you choose to use it.

 

water resistant up to 40 minutes+

All sunscreen should be water resistant, in my opinion, because what the heck is the point if you want to go swimming or are sweating a little more that day? If you are getting in and out of the water and are active, you should reapply often, but the sunscreen shouldn’t wash away entirely when you enter the water. Ideally, 80 minutes is a sweet spot since that gives you a little over an hour between application, but keep an eye out how long you have been out and if you need to apply more frequently.

 

*Biodegradable

This is important for myself, but I realize that it may not be so much to others, so that’s why I put a little asterisk next to it. I try my best to reduce my impact on the planet as much as I possibly can and that’s why having a sunscreen that biodegrades is important. When I use sunscreen that does biodegrade, I know that I am putting the materials of the sunscreen back into the planet and not spoiling anything in the process. Along with that, I have a reusable tin, so I am not contributing to plastic pollution either. In a way, it’s carbon neutral to make this decision, and I love that I can have a product that does that. I believe most of the sunscreens below can biodegrade based on their ingredients, but I only listed on the sunscreens that specifically advertise that so I wasn’t giving false information.

 


 

What Sunscreen Do I Use + Love?

I swear by Raw Elements, however, I am always looking to try new products and compare because I am always about having options when I am out exploring. I do feel it quite unnecessary to have a whole drawer or bag filled with fifteen different types of sunscreen, so I am slowly making my way through some other brands that interest me like Apothecary Muse, Suntribe, Surf Durt, Raw Love, and Sea & Summit. I can only give my opinion on Raw Elements, but I have heard many people rave about these sunscreens below and how effective they are, so I hope that you find one that you fall in love with, too.

 


 

Raw Elements Plastic-Free Tins

SHOP

 

Brian Guadagno is the lifeguard behind the Raw Elements Sunscreen brand after discovering how harmful commercial sunscreens are for both our health and the health of the ocean. He wanted to develop a sunscreen that kept up with adventurers, travelers, active people, and on top of that, develop a brand that a lot of people could connect and resonate with. Raw Elements is my sunscreen of choice and I have been using them for years now to protect my skin from harsh rays. They check off all the things that I would look for in a great sunscreen and their plastic-free tin goes with me wherever I go.

 

SPF 30+

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

Biodegradable

Water Resistant up to 80 minutes

Safe For all Ages

* not Fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Elevated Sun! Natural Sunscreen

SHOP

 

Dominic + Melena Taylor were inspired to create their own line of natural and sustainable body and baby care products during their first pregnancy. After scouring stores for safe options, they quickly found that Dr. Bronner’s was the only option with no questionable ingredients. With their entrepreneurial gears turning, they decided they would make their create their own brand. Thus, Elevated Body Care was born and it is here for all of us to enjoy. I love that they come in glass jars so you can reuse the container over and over again for DIY toothpaste, shampoo, or a shower scrub. If you fall in love with their sunscreen, take a peek at all their other incredible natural body care products to try out and ‘elevate’ your self-care routine.

 

SPF 30

*Not tested for broad spectrum (read here)

Reef Safe

Apply As Needed (every 1-2 hours recommended)

Safe For All Ages

Vegan

 

 


 

EiR NYC Surf Mud

SHOP

 

Avid surfer, samba dancer, and herbal healing expert Jun Lee’s natural sunscreen was her first product that the surfing community fell in love with. Her company is named after the goddess of healing, Eir (uh, how cool?!). Surf Mud has become the perfect pairing for adventurous and active lifestyles, and not to mention the packaging is super minimalistic and cute. Her products are designed to speed internal healing and providing external benefits. They are also sustainable and biodegradable, so you know that what you’re putting on your skin is doing good for you and the environment, which is what I’m all about. If you lead an adventurous lifestyle like me, this sunscreen is going to be your new go-to.

 

SPF 30

Protects against UV Rays

Reef safe

Biodegradable

Water Resistant

Safe For All Ages

*Not Fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Suntribe Sunscreen

SHOP

 

Suntribe Sunscreen was started up by three friends with a love for the outdoors and avid surfers, climbers, and runners. They were tired of the greenwashing in commercial sunscreen advertisements, so they made their own with only three simple ingredients. One of my friends that I met in Bali uses this sunscreen religiously so this stuff has really piqued my interest since I have seen her rave about it so much. I love that there are only three ingredients and that it is catered to adventurous travelers, much like the rest of these on the list. I am really looking forward to trying this stuff out and I highly recommend it if you find yourself catching waves often or playing under the sun for long periods of time since it is also sweat resistant.

 

SPF 30

Broad Spectrum Protection

Reef Safe

100% organic

Extreme Water and sweat resistant

Safe For All Ages

*Not Fully Vegan as it contains Beeswax

 

 


 

Dirty Hippie Coconut Sunscreen Balm

SHOP

 

Moving right along the cute packaging train, I present Dirty Hippie Coconut Sunscreen Balm. While I don’t have too much information on the start-up story, I can go ahead and rave about all the awesome things this product offers. First and foremost, this stuff smells of light, sweet, and zingy lime. Yes, please. It’s developed for people with sensitive skin and it contains low pure essential oil content, but you can opt for 0% if your skin is really picky. You can also buy a version of this sunscreen that doubles as a bug repellant, so you can have a 2-in-1 combo for your hiking and camping adventures. The sunscreen balm also comes in three different sizes, pocket, travel, and family size to cater to your specific needs. I love that they cater to many dynamics and give options for people with different lifestyles. Overall, great company and I am really excited to try out their sunscreen this summer.

 

SPF 30

Broad Spectrum protection

Reef Safe

Developed For Sensitive Skin

Apply generously every 2 hours

Safe For all ages (with bug repellant ages 10+)

Vegan

 


 

All Good Sunscreen Butter

SHOP

 

All Good is a lifestyle brand with a vision to inspire others to live in balance with nature, as it should be. It all began back in 1997 when Caroline had the vision to create a product that would harness the earth’s power to heal. She created her first All Good product, the All Good Goop. Her friends and families fell in love with the formula and after all the incredible feedback she received, she decided to share it with the world. Among many other products of All Good, the All Good sunscreen butter has been a go-to for families and beach-goers alike. The sunscreen also comes in white or tinted, so you can choose what kind of coverage suits you best.

 

SPF 50+

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

Organic Ingredient Blend

(Very) Water Resistant up to 80 minutes

*not fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Blue Mission Sunscreen

SHOP

 

While writing this post, the Blue Mission website is currently under construction, so I don’t have too much information about their own start-up story, but I assume once the site is live again, I’ll be able to update this section. However, I love that with each of their sunscreens purchased, one pound of trash is removed from the ocean. They post a lot on their Instagram about wildlife, trash clean-ups, and the sheer amount of trash on the beaches and in the ocean. Although I don’t have too much information, it’s clear that this company has a large passion for the Earth and I hope to read their start-up story soon!

 

SPF 30

Reef Safe

 

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Our oceans are under serious threats and we're rolling up our sleeves to make an impact. While every reef-safe sunscreen purchased funds the removal of one pound of garbage from our oceans, beaches and coastlines around the globe, there is still way more garbage than we can handle. LETS MAKE A CHANGE TOGETHER Do you want to be a Beach Ambassador and take care of your local beach or lake? Click here for more info: https://www.bluemission.com/pages/beach-ambassador Already hosting a cleanup? We can help. Click here for more info: https://www.bluemission.com/pages/hosting-cleanups Do you create awesome and adventurous content? Sign up to be a Brand Ambassador here. https://www.bluemission.com/pages/brand-ambassador-program Are you an athlete or going on an expedition? Lets talk: https://www.bluemission.com/pages/athletes Are you a Retailer or Distributor? To start selling Blue Mission products, please contact us here: https://www.bluemission.com/pages/contact Are you a lawyer, advocate or politician who can help us solve the too-much-garbage-in-the-ocean issue by stopping it at the source on land? Please send us an email at [email protected] Follow @blue_mission for more amazing ocean content! • • Three Easy Ways You Can Make An Impact On Ocean Trash 1⃣ Reduce your use of single-use plastics (bags, plastic bottles, toothbrushes…). 2⃣ Going for a walk on your local beach, lake or park? Take a bag and pick up any garbage. 3⃣ Make your friends & family aware of the issue. • • • • • #oceanlove #whale #oceanfun #savetheoceans #bg_underwater #oceanlife #plasticfree #discoverocean #oceanconservation #marineconservation #boycottseaworld #whales #underwaterphotography #seashepherd #underwaterworld #marinelife #savetheocean #saltlife #sealife #underwaterphoto#saveourseas #saveourplanet #rethinkplastic

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Little Hands Hawai’i Mineral Sunscreen

SHOP

 

Rosalyn is a Hawai’i based mother and registered nurse that created Little Hands to have a safe sunscreen she could put on her little ones. She says her Ohana is protecting our health, natural resources, and preserving marine life. All of her packagings are plastic-free and her labels are made with soy dye and 100% recycled materials. By purchasing this sunscreen, you’re supporting a passionate family that cares so deeply for the natural world. She realized that most products are advertised to make a quick buck and not for the health of its consumers and the planet, and by making Little Hands, she is paving the way for more locally owned businesses doing the right thing and with passion.

 

SPF 30+

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

Biodegradable

Water Resistant up to 80 minutes

Safe For All Ages

*Not Fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Raw Love Sunscreen

SHOP

 

In 2015, Jenna Davis created Raw Love Sunscreen on the sunny island of Maui, Hawai’i (okay already jealous). She is a PADI Dive Master and SNUBA Instructor that was passionate about creating a sunscreen that was going to protect her tattoos from the sun and not harm her body or reef in the process. With months and months of research and trials, combined with her past studies in marine biology, Raw Love Sunscreen was born. Her formula is biodegradable, reef safe, eco-friendly, and moisturizing. Jenna says, “you will feel protected and your skin will feel loved when using this reef-friendly sunscreen”. I love her pin-up girl styled packaging and the overall aesthetic of her brand is SO vintage-y and cute.

 

SPF 35

Broad Spectrum

Reef safe

Biodegradable

Water resistant up to 40 minutes

Safe For All Ages

*not Fully Vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Sea & Summit Sunscreen Face Stick

SHOP

 

Ryan Kell sold everything he owned to make Sea & Summit a reality. He developed this sunscreen right in his kitchen for himself and his friends that were lifeguards and kayak guides. Through feedback, he was able to produce an effective sunscreen with only six organic ingredients. He is using his business as a vessel of example for future businesses and says, “I stand for what I believe in, and no one or no amount of money is going to sway me from my values. When big business pushes, I’ll push back harder”. It’s clear that Ryan has a deep passion for the environment, especially since he modeled his business after Patagonia. If that wasn’t a large selling point, the packaging is incredibly durable for the modern adventurer.

 

SPF 30, 36, + 50

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

100% organic

*Great for water sports (read here under ‘usage’)

Safe for all ages

*not fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

CoCoAloha

SHOP

 

Gita Kaiser is an active surfer based in Bali and Hawai’i that understands the importance of protecting and nourishing your skin on a daily basis. CocoAloha is different from other sunscreens because it works to heal and protect your skin in one swipe. It’s formulated with annatto seeds from Hawai’i and thanaka powder from Southeast Asia. Annatto seeds are high in antioxidants which can help fight aging, wrinkles, and damage from the sun while the thanaka powder provides the sun protection while cooling the skin and may also help treat melasma and dark spots, but don’t take my word for it, look at these before and after photos. This sunscreen also comes in three different colors so you can keep that golden glow no matter where you are.

 

SPF 45

Broad Spectrum

Reef safe

100% organic

formulated for water sports

Safe for all ages

*not fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Avasol Surfer’s Barrier Stick

SHOP

 

In late 2010, the creators of Avasol had had enough of the chemical-based sunscreens on shelves. When they couldn’t find any products to meet their standards, they researched traditional ingredients used in natural medicines and ethnopharmacology (the study of thing used medicinally), and with a little bit of green chemistry, Avasol was created. The word ‘Ava’ comes from the Samoan language meaning respect, and ‘Sol’ that means the sun. Respect the sun. Their packaging is bio-based and refillable, so you can send in used tubes and tubs, and they’ll send it back full of their creamy sunscreen. They are purpose driven and it’s clear in the thought and passion that they put into their company.

 

SPF 30

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

Made In The USA

Clinically Tested/Allergy Tested

Safe For All Ages

*Not fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Apothecary Muse Sun Stick

SHOP

 

Eryn Hughes (cool spelling) is the owner of Apothecary Muse since 1999. She has had jobs as a mountain bike coach, sports nutritionist, outdoor retail manager, sound engineer, DJ, fine artist, AND political philosopher. How incredible. In 2013, Apothecary Muse was born to fill the gaps between her passions. She says that “Muse is the philosophy which has continued through the music, cycling and into soapmaking stages, suggesting one who is always ready to learn will have always have room to grow”. Apothecary Muse is proud to create natural and sustainable products that support outdoor recreation for all seasons. Psst. The packaging is also adorable, so make sure you browse through all her other natural beauty products.

 

*SPF not specified (apply every 2 hours)

*UVA / UVB protection not specified

reef safe

75% Organic

Safe For All ages

Vegan

 

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Feeling ambitious about spending a lot of time outside this year? I know I am! Being a fan of learning things the hard way (experience), I've researched and developed before, during, and after care for folks just like us! The Woodsy Warrior product line features bug bite, rash and sunburn protection to meet all your outdoor excursion needs. . For example, the Woodsy Warrior soap is made with base oils infused with poison ivy preventing jewelweed and then has insect repellent essential oils woven throughout and finely ground and/or oatmeal, clay, walnut shells aor charcoal to remove stubborn grease. It's packaged in plantable paper, embedded with North American wildflower seeds. This is a must-have for mountain bikers to have a first line of defense for regular trips into the woods or mountains. . If you're going on a longer trip or traveling by air to a destination, you might consider adding the Woodsy Warrior sun stick to your packing list. Sustainably packaged in biodegradable paperboard and labels printed with eco-friendly wax, this 2-in-1 solid stick meets travel requirements while serving daily sun and bug protection needs. . Lastly, if you're more of the impulsive adventurer and didn't pretreat before heading out, you might consider the cooling, detoxification action of peppermint and plantain in the Woodsy Warrior drawing salve. Packaged in a reusable tin with a twist-off lid, this item is equally useful when stowed in your summit pack, first aid kit or the bathroom medicine cabinet. . And last but not least, everything is vegan, zero waste and made lovingly by hand in Pittsburgh, PA. This is my favorite contribution to the Adventure Skincare product line because it supports access and education in the outdoors. If you are local, you are welcome to pickup at the production studio Tues or Thurs 3-6pm, from a local shop listed on my website or order online. Connect via bio.

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Anakiel Sunscreen

SHOP

 

Anakiel was started after Natacha had concerns about what she was putting on her little one’s skin. She found that most of the products recommended were actually the most harmful to her baby, so she decided to formulate her own product that would heal and soothe eczema on their skin. Thus, Anakiel was born and after months of research and perfecting, her sunscreen was born among her other beauty products. Their priority is through organic ingredients and botanicals that brands them so much more than a natural cosmetics line. They say that “it is a real fusion between our passion for our family, health, and nature and all that is wonderful to teach us and to offer”.

 

SPF 35+

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

76% Organic

Safe For All Ages

Vegan

 

 


 

Surf Durt Sunscreen

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Surf Durt was created by two California natives and a chemist from Hawai’i to form the perfect sunscreen to sustain surfing culture. They produce this sunscreen using 100% solar-powered tech, so you can leave no trace no matter where you choose to take it. They take pride in their unscented, yet cookie smelling formula that is safe for you, your skin, and the oceans most important ecosystem. One of their mantras on their website is, “because no matter where you take it, the ocean is where it ends up“, and I love that because it can apply to chemical-based products and waste alike. If that wasn’t enough, they also have the world’s cutest packaging. Just sayin’.

 

SPF 30

Broad Spectrum

Reef Safe

Made In USA

Water Resistant up to 80 minutes

100% Organic

*Not fully vegan as it contains beeswax

 

 


 

Where are you going to get your dose of vitamin sea this summer? Share with me in the comments below!

This post may contain affiliate links for the products or services I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.

Aaren

 

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As an avid adventurer, hiker, camper, explorer, and traveler, having a reef safe and plastic-free sunscreen is my main priority. This list of the top 15 reef safe sunscreen products features brands with passions for the oceans and the environment. They are also plastic free and zero waste so you can promote greener earth on all your sun-filled days. #reefsafesunscreen #zerowastesunscreen #plasticfreesunscreen

As an avid adventurer, hiker, camper, explorer, and traveler, having a reef safe and plastic-free sunscreen is my main priority. This list of the top 15 reef safe sunscreen products features brands with passions for the oceans and the environment. They are also plastic free and zero waste so you can promote greener earth on all your sun-filled days. #reefsafesunscreen #zerowastesunscreen #plasticfreesunscreen

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