For those long summer days hiking to alpine lakes, relaxing at picturesque beaches, or any day with loads of sunshine involved, a zero waste sunscreen is key to keeping you and the planet protected. I used to be one of those people that NEVER wore sunscreen and never bothered to consider the importance of broad-spectrum protection, plastic-free sunscreen packaging, or harmful effects of commercial sunscreens or plastic pollution, but that all changed within a couple of years. My mom was diagnosed with stage four melanoma years ago, she is now in remission thankfully, but almost losing my mom made me reconsider how I take care of my skin when I am out exploring. Years later, I traveled to Bali, Indonesia, and saw firsthand, how plastic pollution affects some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. These issues coexist together and these zero waste and eco-friendly sunscreen companies take the guesswork out of making more sustainable choices.
The harmful impact that most sunscreens cause doesn’t just start and stop with me or you. Once the governor of Hawai’i banned the sales and distribution of chemical sunscreens in the summer of 2018, it caused a new movement that changed the way we look and buy sunscreen brands like Banana Boat, Up & Up, Coppertone, and many more because of harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and 4-methyl benzylidene. These chemicals contribute to coral bleaching and they disrupt the endocrine systems of not only the corals, but the wildlife that relies on them like algae, sea urchins, fish, and other mammals (source).
When I was first making changes to my products for more sustainable and eco-friendly options, I came across a ton of different sustainable and zero waste sunscreen brands that are doing amazing things for the better health of our oceans and I wanted to share them with you, today! Each brand offers something different, but you’ll see some common denominators with a handful of them: water-resistant, broad-spectrum protection, reef safe, plastic-free, and made with nano zinc oxide. With many things in my life, I enjoy options, so I hope you find this hand-picked list of zero waste sunscreen options helpful, and without further ado, let’s dive in.
This post may contain affiliate links for the products 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 a booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am extremely thankful for.
Raw Elements Sunscreen
ABOUT RAW ELEMENTS SUNSCREEN TINS
It’s been one of my goals this year to support more USA-based companies and Raw Elements is paving the way in sustainable and plastic-free sunscreen.
They have a variety of different formulas and products, but the plastic-free tins and the zero waste sunscreen sticks are where the company really shines.
The waste-free sunscreen is made with non-nano zinc oxide, sunflower oil, coconut butter, vitamin e, and other ingredients to soothe the skin like organic green tea, organic beeswax, organic coffee, organic mango butter, and organic cacao butter!
This sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays while also being water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. It’s safe for all ages with its SPF 30 formula and is entirely soy, gluten, and nut-free! This stuff is even biodegradable and very obviously, reef safe.
Raw Elements is my zero waste sunscreen of choice as I have taken almost a dozen of these tins around the world with me. They have a tinted and non-tinted option, but I prefer the tinted tins to add a little color while I am out and about!
ABOUT THE RAW ELEMENTS BRAND
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. Brian wanted to develop a sunscreen that kept up with adventurers and travelers like you and me. Raw Elements is part of 1% for the Planet, Leaping Bunny, and NON-GMO Project certified.
SHOP | EcoRoots
ABOUT SUNTRIBE SUNSCREEN
Made with only THREE powerful ingredients: coconut oil, beeswax, and non-nano zinc oxide, Suntribe Sunscreen is crafted for hardcore adventurers that like to get out and get their hands dirty.
Their non-nano zinc oxide changes the game because it’s uncoated and non-irradiated, so they use the purest form of this mineral in their sunscreens. This, paired with only two ingredients makes this a top contender when it comes to shopping for a waste-free and reef-safe sunscreen. I am always on the hunt for products with minimal and all-natural ingredients.
The 100% natural formula and 73% organic ingredients feature broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays, SPF 30, and are very water-resistant. One of my friends that I met in Bali SWEARS by this stuff and she is always either surfing, climbing, or mountaineering.
The sunscreen tins are a great option, but they also come in fully recyclable, 100% paper tubes. Not all of their products are waste-free, but they are printed on 100% recycled paper with eco-friendly inks.
ABOUT THE SUNTRIBE BRAND
Suntribe Sunscreen was started up by three friends, Karl, Hampus, and Julia through their mutual love for the outdoors. They were tired of the greenwashing in commercial sunscreen advertisements, so they made their own zero waste sunscreen that would last through the most epic of adventures.
They put the formula through testing they would want it to last through. For surfers, seek the roughest waves, harshest climates, and they test the formula on a variety of skin types before they fully commit.
What I love most about Suntribe is its commitment to transparency. See their transparency page here where they give you the 411 on where their products come from, how they’re developed, the whole nine yards!
SHOP | Suntribe
PREVIOUSLY APOTHECARY MUSE
ABOUT TRAIL BOTANICA ZERO WASTE VEGAN SUNSCREEN
Trail Botanica offers two types of sunscreens: Enchanted Garden for every day and the Classic Sun Stick. The formulas come in fully recyclable paperboard tubes that are perfect for travel and on the go.
The sticks provide protection for up to 2 hours during exposure and should be reapplied for the maximum benefits.
Non-nano zinc oxide protects your skin from harsh rays while a unique blend of oils also keeps bugs and other pests away, making this sustainable sunscreen perfect for those that love to get dirty in the outdoors or in alpine environments. Other ingredients in this unique blend are holy basil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, aloe juice, and rosehip seed oil.
My favorite thing is that the sunscreen dries clear and allows me to sweat freely without clogging all my pores.
ABOUT TRAIL BOTANICA
Eryn Hughes: mountain bike coach, sports nutritionist, outdoor retail manager, sound engineer, DJ, fine artist, and political philosopher is the muse behind Trail Botanica, previously branded as Apothecary Muse.
In 2013, she brought Apothecary Muse to the world to fill the gaps between her passions. Eryn 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”. How inspiring!
What separates Eryn from others is that she uses ethically harvested ingredients and grows or sources the rest herself! She has a full ingredient list of raw materials on her website that is incredibly useful when looking for all-natural products.
As a fellow woman in the outdoor space, I appreciate her commitment to responsible and ethical sourcing, while keeping products affordable for everyone. She is a pioneer in this industry and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of her products to field test.
SHOP | Etsy
Raw Love Sunscreen
ABOUT RAW LOVE ZERO WASTE SUNSCREEN
Raw Love Mineral Sunscreen is a formula for divers, surfers, paddlers, ocean lovers, and anyone looking to protect their skin as they get out and experience the world.
The formula is made with non-nano zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea butter, sesame oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, vitamin e oil, and other essential oils to create a gentle, but effective sunscreen.
Rated SPF 35, this water-resistant and reef-safe sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA, UVB, and even UVC rays, and it’s made in the USA. This is the island of Hawai’i’s FIRST FDA compliant sunscreen company, and with every purchase, you’re supporting the local Hawaiian economy!
“The best sun protection is to limit your exposure and cover your skin. The next best protection is Raw Love!”
ABOUT RAW LOVE SUNSCREEN
In 2015, PADI Dive Master and SNUBA Instructor, Jenna Davis created Raw Love Sunscreen on the vibrant island of Maui, Hawai’i. After going on dives and witnessing the devastating impact of coral bleaching on local reefs, she went straight to the kitchen to come up with a reef-safe and waste-free sunscreen.
Her past studies in Marine Biology and Chemistry made the creation of Raw Love Sunscreen seamless, along with her passion for protecting our oceans.
Jenna says, “you will feel protected and your skin will feel loved when using this reef-friendly sunscreen”.
SHOP | Etsy
Sea & Summit Sunscreen Face Stick
ABOUT SEA & SUMMIT CLEAR SUNSCREEN FACE STICK
Sea & Summit’s Face Sticks are made from 100% recyclable paper packaging and come in two different SPF ratings, 36 and 50 SPF. This is perfect for those that need a little extra protection while they’re outdoors.
The Sea & Summit Sunscreen Lotions are made from 100% recycled plastic, so while they’re not entirely waste, free they’re making HUGE moves in sustainability.
The formula isn’t entirely vegan as it contains beeswax, but all ingredients are sourced mindfully: non-nano zinc oxide, coconut oil, sea buckthorn oil, capuacu butter, carrot seed oil, sesame oil, shea butter, and much more.
It provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, is safe for all ages, water-resistant, organic, and made in the USA!
ABOUT SEA & SUMMIT
Ryan Kell was working as an ocean kayak guide and lifeguard off the coast of Santa Barbara, California when he discovered there was something missing to accompany his adventures, a safe, but effective sunscreen that didn’t harm him or the marine sanctuaries he was working and playing in.
Determined to create a solution, he headed to his kitchen to create an organic waste-free sunscreen. His fellow kayaking and lifeguarding friends fell in love with his formula, and thus Sea & Summit was born.
What separates Sea & Summit from others is its commitment to ethically sourcing its ingredients, most notably, coconut oil. He wants to change the dirty business of coconut oil by sourcing it from suppliers that support the Virgin Coconut Oil Project, which is run by a not-for-profit women’s foundation. “The coconut project is producing a livelihood for families to enable them to remain at home and earn a regular income whilst also employing other villagers and sustaining family cash needs without relying on remittances or other outside support.”
Ryan 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”.
SHOP | SEA & SUMMIT
ABOUT EIR NYC SURF MUD
The Surf Mud Pro comes in a fully compostable, 100% plastic-free sunscreen tube or there is the classic Surf Mud that comes in a recyclable, plastic-free tin.
The Surf Mud is inspired by the Mayan Chocolate Mask and provides SPF 30, broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and seven key ingredients to nourish the skin: non-nano zinc oxide, beeswax, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and vitamin e oil. A handful of the ingredients are organic, but not all. This is a staple among the surfing community for its durability in and out of the water.
The Surf Mud Pro packs a little bit stronger of a punch with SPF 50. This is better suited for those high-sunshine days out on the water or high in the alpine. It’s made with five key ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, beeswax, coconut oil, and titanium dioxide.
I haven’t been able to confirm whether their ingredients are ethically sourced/harvested.
ABOUT EIR NYC
EiR NYC is named after the goddess of healing, Eir, and its products are designed to speed internal healing and provide external benefits. They believe that the Earth has provided us with bountiful resources and strong remedies for healing, and I couldn’t agree more.
An avid surfer and herbal healing expert, Jun Lee, created an all-natural sunscreen that was her first product that the local Mantuak surfing community fell in love with, and soon it has slowly spread around the world to provide a cleaner and better alternative to commercial sunscreens.
SHOP | EiR NYC
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics
ABOUT DIRTY HIPPIE COCONUT SUNSCREEN BALM
Dirty Hippie’s Coconut Sunscreen Balm is handmade, with love in Canberra, Australia. The essential oils cause this to smell of light, sweet, and tangy lime while providing SPF 30+, broad-spectrum protection, and organic coverage against harsh sun rays.
This zero waste sunscreen was made specifically with sensitive skin in mind, so the essential oil content is extremely low, but you can purchase it without them. Additionally, you can purchase this in a compostable eco tube, compostable pot, or reusable tin. Each product is made to order, which makes this company truly shine as they cater to a variety of different needs.
If you’re venturing into the wilderness, you can purchase a blend with oils that help repel bugs. This is especially helpful for me whenever I go hiking since I generally get eaten alive by mosquitos when I am hiking and camping.
ABOUT DIRTY HIPPIE COSMETICS
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics is a family-run, zero waste brand that not only specializes in sunscreen, but also makes a variety of other vegan skincare, makeup, and hair care products. Right now, their products do contain palm oil, but they are working towards going back to palm oil-free once they find a new supplier.
All of their orders are sent from a solar-powered headquarters using minimal packaging. They collect discarded newspapers locally for padding in packaging and post-consumer recycled paper tape and boxes.
They donate a note-worthy amount to charities and have land acknowledgment for the Ngunnawal people. They’re an inspiring company that holds strong in their values to people and the planet. I can’t wait to test this out on one of my next backpacking trips.
SHOP | Etsy
ABOUT SURF DURT “THE OG” SUNSCREEN
Surf Durt Sunscreen is made in the USA from non-nano zinc oxide, coconut butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, beeswax, mango butter, vitamin e, and iron oxide pigment for a subtle tint.
This plastic-free sunscreen comes in a reusable bamboo tin or a fully recyclable travel tin that helps support the Coral Gardeners. It provides broad-spectrum protection with SPF 30, is cruelty-free, reef safe, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
ABOUT SURF DURT
Max and Nikki, the original Durtheads, wanted a safe sunscreen alternative to protect them during their day-to-day shenanigans under the California sun. With the help of Max’s dad, a Ph.D. Chemist and surfer from Hawai’i, they created Surf Durt.
Max and Nikki produce this sustainable 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’.
Since the brand has taken off, they offer plastic-free sunscreen in a few different packaging colors to help support causes like worldwide initiatives for clean water, surf therapy for underserved communities, and reforestation.
SHOP | Surf Durt
ABOUT EMPIRESQUID SUNSCREEN
EmpireSquid’s Sunscreen is a top contender for a quality sustainable sunscreen. Their formula is made with non-nano zinc oxide, raspberry seed oil, organic macadamia nut oil, organic shea butter, candelilla wax, vitamin e oil, and essential oils that can be taken out per request.
Their sunscreen isn’t vegan by default, but you can purchase it vegan without the beeswax. EmpireSquid Sunscreen has not been lab-tested, so while they don’t know the exact SPF rating of their products, they estimate between 15-30 SPF for the original, and higher for the “extra protection” formula.
Additionally, you can buy either formula with original or extra protection, with the latter having a higher concentrate of zinc oxide.
Empire Squid was created by a family that struggled to find products made with 100% wholesome ingredients. They specialize in made-to-order skin care for everyone.
Since their shop opened in 2013, they’ve grown immensely in the zero waste community and offer one of the most sustainable, plastic-free sunscreens and skin care products out there.
Everything from their shop is hand-made with 70% organic ingredients, with that percentage growing, and ethically sourced materials.
SHOP | Etsy
Butter Me Up Organics
ABOUT BUTTER ME UP NATURAL ORGANIC SUNSCREEN
Butter Me Up Organic Sunscreen is made using the traditional non-nano zinc oxide with coconut oil, shea butter mango butter, non-GMO grapeseed oil, vitamin e, and beeswax. All the ingredients are certified organic except grapeseed oil.
This plastic-free sunscreen comes in a variety of different sizes and packaging depending on your personal needs: 2 oz. glass, 3 oz. paperboard, and 4 oz. glass, and an 8 oz. glass that will last you all summer!
I like that this sustainable sunscreen blends in well and doesn’t leave a thick, white residue all over your body like most sunscreens do.
ABOUT BUTTER ME UP ORGANICS
Butter Me Up Organics believes that your skin is just as vital as any other organ in your body. Their philosophy is, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t put in it.” And they even go on to say that all of their products are entirely edible!
They are a completely zero-waste brand that ships everything plastic-free with care using upcycled packaging when possible.
Since 2008, Jillian makes her own recipes for her products by hand and spent years perfecting the best ingredients, benefits, quality, safety, and certifications. Each of her items is packed in glass, tin, or paper, and she uses all recycled soy inks, sustainable printers, and recycled packing materials.
Using her craft and eye for detail she has made one of the best sustainable sunscreens on the market today for a fraction of the cost of most other sunscreens.
SHOP | Etsy
MORE ZERO WASTE GUIDES:
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