Shield Your Skin And The Ocean With The 13 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Written by Kirtana Divakar
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Beautiful white sand, crystal blue water, the smell of salt in the air – as summer approaches and we leave the dreadful winter behind, who amongst us hasn’t glanced wistfully at the swimsuits in our drawers, hoping time would hurry up so you could be on the perfect beach vacation soon. But before you load your bags, don’t forget to pack a reef-safe sunscreen to ensure your sun-kissed glow doesn’t turn into a painful sunburn.

While sunscreen is essential when spending any time in the sun, responsible beauty dictates we pick a good product for the skin that is ocean-friendly and safe for coral reefs. Nasty ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate can transfer from your skin to the water and inflict irreversible damage to our beautiful marine life. The good news is that there are mineral sunscreens available today, which protect your skin so that you can frolic in the sun, and at the same time, are reef-friendly. But are you confused about which one to pick? Check out our list of the 13 best reef-safe sunscreens in 2021 and enter the water assured that you could be the glowing, guilt-free, ocean-friendly mermaid of your dreams.

Top 10 ProductsCheck Price
Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen SprayCheck Price
Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen LotionCheck Price
ThinkSport SPF 50+ Sunscreen Check Price
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc SunscreenCheck Price
Seven Minerals Skin Friendly Sunscreen LotionCheck Price
Badger Natural Mineral Sunscreen CreamCheck Price
Solimo Sport Sunscreen LotionCheck Price
Raw Elements Certified Natural SunscreenCheck Price
Reef Repair Suncream SPF 50+Check Price
Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc SunscreenCheck Price

Top 13 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens In 2021 – Reviews And Buying Guide

1. Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a water baby, or just want to spend a fun summer day out in the sun, this reef-friendly sunscreen will protect your skin from UVA/UVB rays. The lightweight, fast-absorbing formula can be conveniently sprayed on 15 minutes before heading outside and will keep you covered against sweat and water. Suitable for all skin types, this product must be reapplied every 2 hours of sun exposure to ensure effectiveness.

PROS

  • Lightweight, breathable formula
  • Water resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Contains no oxybenzone or octinoxate
  • Broad-spectrum 50 SPF sun protection

CONS

  • This product is not hypoallergenic and might not be best suited for those with very sensitive skin.

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2. Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion

Are you looking for a clean sunscreen, which is not only safe for the oceans but also good for your skin? This hypoallergenic reef-safe sunscreen helps prevent sunburns while deeply moisturizing your skin and protecting it from UV damage. Enriched with antioxidants, this sunscreen has a refreshing, summery fragrance and is water-resistant. Suitable for all skin types, this product has non-comedogenic ingredients, making it an ideal choice for those prone to acne and breakouts.

PROS

  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Free of parabens, gluten, and oxybenzone
  • Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Dermatologist-tested

CONS

  • Some might find that this sunscreen leaves a bit of residue after application. 

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3. ThinkSport SPF 50+ Sunscreen 

Here’s a sunscreen that not only provides much-needed sun protection against harmful rays but is also made without any nasty chemicals. Suitable for use on both the face and the body, this non-oily formula absorbs instantly into the skin to protect it from the sun. Formulated without reef-damaging chemicals and toxins, this product is safe for our precious oceans and is ideal for use while snorkeling or diving.

PROS

  • Fast-absorbing, mineral based formula
  • Broad-spectrum 50 SPF sun protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Free of parabens, phthalates, and petroleum
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Dermatologist recommended

CONS

  • Some might find that this sunscreen leaves a white film on the skin after application.

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4. Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen

Are you looking for a sunscreen that the whole family can use on a beach vacation? Designed specially for extra sensitive skin, this mineral sunscreen has plant-based ingredients like aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, and jojoba oil, which help soothe and nourish skin. The lightweight and non-greasy texture allow easy application for a fun summer day in the sun. The impressive list of ingredients also include avocados and organic watercress which help reduce eczema and inflammation while infusing skin with deep moisture.

PROS

  • Ultra-sheer hypoallergenic formula
  • Water and sweat-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Fragrance-free and gluten-free
  • Safe to use on babies and children
  • Free of parabens and phthalates
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Reef-friendly and cruelty-free

CONS

  • Some might find the texture of this sunscreen a bit thick.

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5. Seven Minerals Skin Friendly Sunscreen Lotion

If you’re looking for a sunscreen that cares about both your skin and the ocean, you’re in the right place. This thoughtfully curated formula contains skin-loving ingredients like organic aloe vera gel, mango butter, and coconut oil, which nourish and moisturize the skin without harming the environment in the process. This kid-friendly sunscreen is dermatologist tested to be safe for sensitive and reactive skin, and the non-comedogenic ingredients ensure pores remain unclogged for radiant, protected skin.

PROS

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 30 sun protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Made with reef-friendly ingredients
  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • Free of parabens, octinoxate, and oxybenzone
  • Cruelty-free 

CONS

  • Some might find the texture of this sunscreen a bit greasy.

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6. Badger Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream

Designed for surfing, skiing, and other performance sports, this eco-friendly sunscreen provides broad-spectrum sun protection from harmful UVA/UVB rays while being water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Reef-safe and fragrance-free, this sunscreen is infused with organic sunflower oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, and vitamin E, which nourish and moisturize the skin. Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, this natural sunscreen is suitable for all skin types.

PROS

  • Made with 98% organic ingredients
  • Does not contain nano zinc oxide
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Broad-spectrum SPF 35 sun protection
  • Non-GMO and unscented
  • Cruelty-free

CONS

  • May require constant reapplication

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7. Solimo Sport Sunscreen Lotion

Say goodbye to sunburns and early skin aging with this protective and effective reef-friendly sunscreen, which can be used by the entire family. Slather some on before a swim, a dive, a football game, or a lazy day on the beach for all-around broad-spectrum protection. Sweat-free and water-resistant, this sunscreen doesn’t wipe off with water, making it an ideal choice for those on the go. The pleasant fragrance and non-staining formula make this a favorite for those who want an ocean-friendly sunscreen without compromising sun protection.

PROS

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Free of oxybenzone and octinoxate
  • Suitable for all skin types

CONS

  • Some might find the consistency of this sunscreen a bit thick.

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8. Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen

If you’re looking for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is safe for all ages, have a look at this natural sunscreen, which is gentle enough for infants yet holds up to the demands of ocean water athletes. Formulated with organic and certified natural ingredients, this environmentally-friendly sunscreen is suitable for all skin types and can be used daily for optimum sun protection. Skin-loving and ocean-friendly ingredients like organic green tea extract, hemp seed oil, and natural mango butter infuse skin with moisture and nourishment and prevent the skin from drying out in the sun.

PROS

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 30 sun protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Contains no chemicals, preservatives, or fragrances
  • Coral reef-safe ingredients
  • Non-GMO and non-nano
  • Cruelty-free

CONS

  • Some might find the scent of this sunscreen a bit overpowering.

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9. Reef Repair Suncream SPF 50+

This non-oily, fast-absorbing formula is safe for kids and provides broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection against harmful UVA/UVB rays. Natural and ocean-friendly, the soothing ingredients include coconut oil, avocado oil, and beeswax, which help skin retain its natural moisture without causing dryness or irritation. Whether you’re scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling, or visiting coral reefs, this water-resistant sunscreen will protect both your skin and the ocean.

PROS

  • Made with 100% natural ingredients
  • Water-resistant for 80 minutes
  • Ideal for kids
  • Non-toxic, reef-safe formula
  • Free of parabens, harmful chemicals, and silicones
  • Cruelty-free

CONS

  • Some might find the consistency of this sunscreen a bit grainy.

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10. Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen

Are you on the hunt for a natural sunscreen that makes you feel good about what you’re putting on your skin while feeling safe in the knowledge that it is reef and ocean-friendly? This non-greasy and fast-absorbing sunscreen is made of natural zinc oxide and is suitable for sensitive skin with no irritants or chemical nasties. White beeswax, castor oil, and french vanilla soothe and moisturize the skin while preventing free radical damage. Designed for daily use, this product is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it the ideal choice for those looking for all-around sun protection.

PROS

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Reef and ocean safe
  • Cruelty-free

CONS

  • Some might find the consistency of this sunscreen a bit thick.

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11. Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen

Want a sunscreen that makes you daydream about an idyllic Hawaiian beach vacation? This broad-spectrum sunscreen is infused with 7 Hawaii-grown antioxidant ingredients like noni, plumeria, and kukui nut oil, which will transport your senses to the islands’ sunny, white beaches. Lightweight and non-toxic, this sunscreen goes on clear, and its superior water resistance formula ensures it stays on through sweat, swims, and saltwater. Gentle and soothing for sensitive skin, ditch the toxic sunscreens for this superior one suitable for babies, adults, and endurance triathletes.

PROS

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Reef-safe ingredients
  • Non-sticky, non-greasy formula

CONS

  • May not be as hydrating as expected

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12. Astivita ZinXation Face & Body Sunscreen Lotion

If you’re searching for a non-comedogenic, nourishing, and protective sunscreen, look no further than this one. Suitable for all skin types, it is made of 100% non-nano zinc oxide and is free of any chemical filters and toxins. Safe for use on babies and newborns, this lightweight lotion is formulated with skin-loving vitamin E and jojoba seed oil, which infuse moisture into the skin and prevent sunburns and premature aging. Free of fragrances, this product is particularly well suited to those sensitive to strong scents.

PROS

  • Water-resistant up to 40 minutes
  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Reef-safe and ocean friendly ingredients
  • Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

CONS

  • Some might find this sunscreen a bit hard to spread.

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13. Two Peas Organics Mineral Sunscreen

Here’s a sunscreen that uses the power of natural zinc oxide to provide powerful yet gentle sun protection. Suitable for both your skin and the ocean environment, the natural and organic plant-derived ingredients ensure your skin is nourished and protected without any harmful toxins or chemicals. Water-resistant and suitable for children, this sunscreen is soothing and safe on even the most sensitive skin. Designed for daily use, this product is free of parabens, fragrances, and phthalates.

PROS

  • Made with natural and organic ingredients
  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Unscented and chemical-free
  • Reef-safe and baby-friendly
  • Cruelty-free

CONS

  • Some might find the consistency of this sunscreen a bit thick.

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Now that we have looked at our carefully compiled list of the 13 best reef safe sunscreens in 2021, let us look at some things to consider when picking a sunscreen that keeps your skin protected and nourished.

How To Choose A Reef-Safe Sunscreen For Your Skin 

  • Sun protectionThe first thing to consider when picking a sunscreen is to check how effective and powerful the sunscreen is. Generally, it is best to pick a sunscreen that provides at least SPF 30 broad-spectrum sun protection against harmful UVA/UVB rays. If you’re planning to indulge in a physical activity that will leave you either sweating or wet, pick a water-resistant sunscreen. Lastly, any sunscreen must be applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and should be reapplied every 2 hours for optimum protection.
  • Ingredient listWhen you’re picking a reef-safe sunscreen, make sure to take a good look at the ingredient list. Ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate are known to be harmful to the ocean’s health and coral reefs and must be avoided if entering the water. If you’re looking for an ocean-friendly sunscreen that also nourishes and moisturizes the skin, pick sunscreens with mineral formulas and natural and organic ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and jojoba oil, which will prevent skin from getting dried out in the sun.
  • TextureIf you’re on the go, and don’t want to be hassled with a thick sunscreen that takes time to rub in, pick a lightweight and fast-absorbing sunscreen, which can be quickly slapped on before you head out into the sun. Spray sunscreens are also a popular choice for those in a hurry as they’re quick to put on and cover hard-to-reach areas like the back easily. If you’re looking for a sunscreen that doubles up as a moisturizer, pick one with a thick, creamy texture that will nourish your skin while providing essential protection.

sentence for the precious marine life that we are all trying to preserve. Sunscreens are an essential skincare product and must never be skipped, not only because they prevent sunburns and premature aging but also because regular use can reduce your chances of getting skin cancer. With increased awareness and education, we now know it’s possible to be a bronzed beach goddess while still being kind to the oceans. Reef-safe sunscreens will not only make it easy for you to get into the glistening water guilt-free and protected, but the endangered coral reef will also thank you for the favor. Let our list of the 13 best reef-safe sunscreens in 2021 be your starting point to being an environmentally-conscious, sun-kissed diva.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do reef-safe sunscreens work?

Yes. Reef-safe sunscreens are generally made of minerals like zinc oxide, which provide a necessary shield between your skin and the sun’s harmful rays, thereby providing you with essential protection against sun exposure.

Are reef-safe sunscreens effective?

Reef safe sunscreens are both safe and effective in providing broad spectrum sun protection without harming the oceans. These sunscreens are made without harmful ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can cause irreversible damage to coral reef.

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Kirtana developed a deep passion for writing ever since she was a little girl after reading the brilliant works of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. She completed her Master’s in Mass Communication and Journalism from St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru and has chosen a career that is driven by creativity. A fashion enthusiast who believes in communicating effectively with a personal touch, she writes about beauty, skin care, fashion, and just about anything else.