Sunscreen is essential for all that summer fun outdoors. But some sun protection products contain chemical additives that can be harmful to you as well as the environment you enjoy on those sunny summer days. When sunscreen washes off in oceans, lakes, and rivers, it can leave chemical residues behind that are harmful to marine life, particularly coral reefs. Fortunately, there are safer sunscreens available.
So, with a little help from the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep database, Earth911 rounded up five safer sunscreens. Nontoxic and reef-friendly, these products are as easy on your skin as they are on the environment. Read on to find your new fave.
Editor’s note: EWG’s SkinDeep database rates products on a scale of EWG Verified (best) to 10, based on the known hazards associated with ingredients listed on labels. Products that are EWG Verified meet EWG’s strictest standards for transparency and health, scores of 1 or 2 are considered “low hazard,” scores of 3 to 6 are “moderate hazard,” and 7 to 10 are classified as “high hazard.”
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Attitude Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30
This mineral sunscreen face stick from Attitude boasts the EWG Verified rating, meaning it meets the Environmental Working Group‘s strictest standards for transparency and health, avoids ingredients of concern, is fully transparent about the ingredients and offers good manufacturing practices.
The unscented sunscreen stick offers 30 SPF protection and contains non-nano zinc oxide, a safe and effective sunscreen filter. Reef-friendly and biodegradable, it glides on easily and comes in a plastic-free cardboard tube.
Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Another top-rated EWG Verified product, Babo Botanicals SPF50 Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen is a lightweight, water-resistant product for very sensitive skin. Like all of the sunscreens in this guide, this zinc oxide mineral lotion is free of harsh chemicals and known allergens. It’s also free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, the reef-harming chemicals that are banned in Hawaii.
Formulated for delicate baby skin, the unscented formula is also great for kids and adults who have sensitive skin.
Raw Elements Face + Body All-Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
For great everyday face and body sun protection, try this natural sunscreen from Raw Elements. Its non-nano zinc oxide formula is reef-friendly and it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Gentle enough for kids, this product can also be used for daily moisturizing.
Enjoy the plastic-free packaging. Raw Elements Face + Body sunscreen comes in a reusable and recyclable metal container.
Badger Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 15
When you’re out in the sun, don’t forget to protect your lips. This SPF 15 zinc oxide lip balm from Badger protects lips from sunburn and skin damage with no synthetic chemicals. Fortified with vitamin E, the moisturizing balm can do double duty as a sunscreen for your face.
Badger’s sunscreen lip balm is cruelty-free, reef-friendly, and made with 100% solar power in the USA by a woman-owned Certified B Corporation.
Badger Sport Mineral Sunscreen With Clear Zinc SPF 40
Here’s a SPF 40 sport sunscreen from Badger that won’t harm our coral reefs. Go ahead and work up a sweat; this water- and sweat-resistant sunscreen will protect you against UVA and UVB rays while you play in the sun.
The natural product is made with just four ingredients, zinc oxide, sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E. It nourishes your skin while protecting it. It also also comes in a reusable and easy-to-recycle metal tin.
Originally published on June 17, 2016, this article was updated in July 2023.