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With consumers growing more and more aware about what goes into their skincare products, what’s on their foods and what additives they’re eating, it’s no surprise that the labels on sunscreens have been a topic of interest. With active ingredients like avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene and homosalate, you might not be exactly sure just what you’re slathering yourself in.

As we all know, wearing sunscreen, even on the cloudiest of days, is a necessity. 但为什么?Because the sun emits ultraviolet rays, making up about 10 percent of the total light output of the sun. These UV rays are damaging to our skin cells, causing premature aging, fine lines and wrinkles. And almost all skin cancers are caused by too much UV radiation.

With that being said, recent research has found that most sunscreens do a lot more harm to the environment (and you!) than we initially thought. While sunscreen use is still extremely important, FDA researchers have found that certain UV-filtering chemicals in many conventional sunscreens can be absorbed by the body and into the bloodstream (1). Chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate also have been found to be extremely damaging to our oceans and the wildlife within, mainly our coral reefs (2). 

What Is Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

Reef-safe sunscreen is exactly what it sounds like: sunscreen that is safe for the user and our coral reefs! Oftentimes formulated without harmful chemicals like petrolatum, parabens, SLS, oxybenzone and octinoxate (all of which have been found to be unsafe for sea life), reef-safe sunscreens are instead adding 100 percent mineral active ingredients that are better for you and the environment. Mineral sunscreens that contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on top of your skin, creating a barrier between you and the sun, while chemical sunscreens soak into your skin (meaning so do all those nasty additives).

With summertime and long, lazy days at the beach or pool quickly approaching, we’re sharing our list of the best reef-safe sunscreens for you and the planet!

Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens


Topping our list of reef-safe sunscreens is Bare Republic! This environmentally friendly brand prides itself on using cruelty-free and extremely clean ingredients. Formulated with antioxidant-rich plant extracts and oils and non-nano mineral actives like zinc and titanium oxide, Bare Republic sunscreens protect the environment and our skin, naturally. With tons of formulas (and colors!) to choose from, these sunscreens offer maximum protection while leaving a minimal carbon footprint. With its lightweight feel, fast absorption and no dreaded whitish-purple cast, this is one of our favorite reef-safe sunscreens of the summer! They also smell amazing!

Goddess Garden

Goddess Garden wants you to worry less while wearing their sunscreens! Formulated with only natural ingredients, their sunscreens are certified organic and derived from plant extracts like aloe vera, lavender and pomegranate seed oil. All of their sunscreens are reef-safe and packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients that nourish and protect. With continuous sprays and face and body lotions, there is an eco-friendly option in this line of sunscreen for everyone!

Badger (贝吉獾)

Badger (贝吉獾)’s non-whitening, natural mineral sunscreen is a great option for a lightweight, daily facial sunscreen. It’s easily absorbed by the skin and non-greasy. Badger (贝吉獾)’s line of lotions are 100 percent natural, non-GMO and non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t clog pores and cause breakouts! They’re also safe for sensitive skin and allergies. Formulated with ultra-moisturizing aloe, your skin will thank you when you slather this sunscreen on!   

Sun Bum

Sun Bum’s line of sunscreens are formulated with all the goodies that your skin craves! With moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E, these sunscreens are water-resistant and free of parabens, oils and propylene glycol for a formula that rubs in sheer and keeps your skin protected! Their formulas are also gluten-free and 100 percent vegan, so they make a great option for someone with sensitivities. Sun Bum’s sunscreens are also another great option for someone who struggles with breakouts because their formula is non-comedogenic, too. Look for their line of sprays, balms and lotions labeled “mineral” for a formula free of reef-harming chemicals!

Babo Botanicals (芭葆)

Babo Botanicals (芭葆)’ sunscreens are great for someone with super-sensitive skin. Formulated without phthalates, SLS and sulfates, this sunscreen is pretty clean. Most of them are also fragrance-free! Babo’s lotions and sprays are all ultra sheer, so you don’t get a hard-to-rub-in white cast, and they absorb quickly into the skin, leaving you feeling fresh versus greasy and sticky. Made with pure flower and plant extracts, like kudzu and watercress, this natural sunscreen line is sure to have a spot in our beach bag this summer!   

Have you checked your sunscreen label yet to make sure it’s safe for you and the planet? Let us know in the comments!


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