13 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens To Protect Your Skin And The Ocean – 2023

Skip using skin care products that harm marine life and comprise toxic ingredients!

Written by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Kirtana Divakar MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , MA (English & Literature), Certified Style & Image Consultant Srijita De MA (English & Literature), Certified Style & Image Consultant linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Fact-checked by , MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Krati Darak MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on

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 2023 and enter the water assured that you could be the glowing, guilt-free, ocean-friendly mermaid of your dreams.

Top PicksCheck Price
Best Fast-Absorbing:Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen SprayPrice on Amazon
Best Water-Resistant:Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen LotionPrice on Amazon
Best Non-Oily:ThinkSport SPF 50+ Sunscreen Price on Amazon
Best For Sensitive Skin:Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc SunscreenPrice on Amazon
Best Dermatologist-Tested:Seven Minerals Skin Friendly Sunscreen LotionPrice on Amazon
Best For All Skin Types:Badger Natural Mineral Sunscreen CreamPrice on Amazon
Best Sweat-Free:Solimo Sport Sunscreen LotionPrice on Amazon
Best Environmentally-Friendly:Raw Elements Certified Natural SunscreenPrice on Amazon
Best For Kids:Reef Repair Suncream SPF 50+Price on Amazon
Best Non-Greasy:Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc SunscreenPrice on Amazon

Top 13 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens In 2023 – Reviews And Buying Guide

1. Best Fast-Absorbing:Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray

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4.6
Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray Image: Banana Boat

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. This clinically-proven UVA/UVB protective sunscreen is suitable for all skin types, but it must be reapplied every 2 hours of sun exposure to ensure effectiveness.

Product Dimensions: 4.25 x 2.13 x 7.75 inches | Weight: 6 Ounces

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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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

It has received 27,195 reviews on Amazon and is a popular choice among shoppers.

2. Best Water-Resistant:Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion

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4.7
Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Image: Sun Bum

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.

Item Weight: 0.6 Pounds | Product Dimensions: 4 x 6 x 2 inches | Weight: 9.6 Ounces

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.

protip_icon Pro Tip
Use the three fingers and the shot glass rule to determine how much sunscreen you should use. Ideally, three fingers of sunscreen are enough to cover the face and neck. Further, a shot glass full of sunscreen can cover all other exposed areas on the body.

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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

There are more than 22,214 Amazon reviews attesting to the quality of the product and endorsing its value.

3. Best Non-Oily:ThinkSport SPF 50+ Sunscreen 

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4.3
Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Image: Think

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 oil-free product is safe for our precious oceans and is ideal for use while snorkeling or diving. This video review will help you learn more about the product through a reviewer’s experience.

Product Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 6 inches | Weight: 2.88 Ounces

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.
worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

With over 2,205 reviews, this product has become a fan favorite among users.

Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray
Best Fast-Absorbing
Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion
Best Water-Resistant
ThinkSport SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Best Non-Oily
Dimensions 4.25 x 2.13 x 7.75 inches 4 x 6 x 2 inches 2 x 2 x 6 inches
Weight 6 Ounces 9.6 Ounces 2.88 Ounces
Weight- 0.6 Pounds-
Rating
Reviews27,19522,2142,205
Price$12.97$18.49$13.48

4. Best For Sensitive Skin:Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen

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4.2
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30 with 100% Mineral Active, Non-Nano, Water-Resistant, Reef-Friendly, Fragrance-Free, Vegan, For Babies, Kids or Sensitive Skin - 6 oz. Image: Babo Botanicals

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 allows 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. This video will help you make an informed decision about your purchase.

Item Weight: 6 Ounces | Product Dimensions: 2.25 x 2.25 x 6.5 inches

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.

5. Best Dermatologist-Tested: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.

Skin Type: All | Package Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches; 10.41 Ounces

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

Cons
  • Some might find the texture of this sunscreen a bit greasy.
protip_icon Pro Tip

Use translucent powder to get rid of the greasiness that comes after applying this sunscreen. You can dab some of it all over your face after every reapplication.


6. Best For All Skin Types: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.

Skin Type: All | | Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 5.4 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 1.76 Ounces

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

7. Best Sweat-Free:Solimo Sport Sunscreen Lotion

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4.4

Say goodbye to sunburns and early skin aging with this protective, effective, reef-friendly sunscreen for the entire family. Slather this high-SPF sunscreen 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.

Item Weight: 0.55 Pounds | Product Dimensions: 1.54 x 2.6 x 7.83 inches | Weight: 8.8 Ounces.

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.

8. Best Environmentally-Friendly:Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen

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Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen Image: Raw Elements

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.

Item Weight: 0.29 Pounds | Product Dimensions: 3.25 x 2.13 x 5.38 inches | Weight: 4.64 Ounces

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
  • Environmentally safe
  • Not animal-tested

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

9. Best For Kids:Reef Repair Suncream SPF 50+

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4.2
Reef Repair Suncream SPF 50+ Image: Reef Repair

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.

Item Weight: 4 Ounces | Product Dimensions: 1.46 x 2.4 x 6.46 inches | Weight: 4 Ounces

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.

10. Best Non-Greasy:Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen

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4.2
Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen Image: Ethical Zinc

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.

Item Weight: 100 Grams | Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 3.53 Ounces

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.

11.Best Non-Sticky: Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen

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4.4
Kokua Sun Care SPF 50/80 Min Natural Zinc Sunscreen Image: Kokua Sun Care

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.

Skin Type: Sensitive, Normal | | Item Weight: 4 Ounces | Product Dimensions: 1 x 2.5 x 6 inches

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

Cons
  • May not be as hydrating as expected

12. Best Non-Comedogenic: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.

Skin Type: All, Combination, Sensitive, Dry, Normal

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.

13. Best Chemical-Free:Two Peas Organics Mineral Sunscreen

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Two Peas Organics Mineral Sunscreen Image: Two Peas Organic

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.

Item Weight: 3 Ounces | Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.2 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 3 Ounces.

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

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

Now that we have looked at our carefully compiled list of the 13 best reef safe sunscreens in 2023, 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 protection

The 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 has a proven efficacy in providing 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 list

When 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.

  • Texture

If 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.

Note: It is recommended to conduct a patch-test as some brands use ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that may feel heavy on some skin types, like sensitive and oily ones.

Infographic: Key Ingredients In Reef-Safe Sunscreens

A reef-safe sunscreen is one of the most eco-friendly sunscreens on the market. Not only does it protect your skin, but it also helps protect the marine life around you. Whether you are heading to the beach for a day of sunbathing or snorkeling or just want to spend some quality time outdoors, you will want to make sure you are using sunscreen that is safe for your skin. However, it is important to know what is in it to ensure your skin’s ultimate safety. Take a look at the infographic below to learn more about its key ingredients.

Key Ingredients In Reef-Safe Sunscreens (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Bottom Line

As the summer approaches, we all wish to take our favorite swimsuits out of the closet. As much as we enjoy the summers, we need to protect our skin from harmful UV rays carefully. If you want to hit the beach and enjoy your summers, invest in the best reef-safe sunscreens because they are ocean-friendly and safe for coral reefs. They have a lightweight, breathable, and waterproof formula devoid of synthetic preservatives. Reef-safe sunscreens can be used when you are going for adventures like diving or snorkeling. Try the Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray if you want a quick-absorbing formula, while the Sun Bum Premium Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion would be a good choice for people with sensitive skin. The ThinkSport SPF 50+ Sunscreen is perfect for you if you are looking for a chemical-free product. The ultra-sheer, hypoallergenic formula can be used on babies and children. Consider the SPF protection and texture, and go through the ingredients list while purchasing the best reef-safe sunscreens. With increased education and awareness, it’s possible to be a beach goddess while still being kind to the marine ecosystem.

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.

Do you need reef-safe sunscreen?

Yes. Reef-safe sunscreens are usually made of elements like zinc oxide, which act as an important barrier between your skin and the sun’s dangerous rays while also not damaging the reef in our ocean bed.

What is the difference between reef-safe and reef-friendly sunscreen?

Reef-friendly sunscreen is another name for reef-safe sunscreen. Reef-safe sunscreen is often used to refer to sunscreens that don’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, two prevalent UV-blocking compounds that studies have shown can cause coral erosion.

How do you know if sunscreen is reef-safe?

Check the label of the active ingredient on the back of your sunscreen or personal care product to ensure that chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which harm coral reefs, are not present. This will tell you if the sunscreen is reef-safe.

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Kirtana Divakar
Kirtana DivakarCommerce Writer
Kirtana has a postgraduate degree in mass communication and journalism from St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, and 3 years of professional experience. She developed a deep passion for writing after reading the brilliant works of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and has chosen a career that is driven by creativity.

Read full bio of Kirtana Divakar
Srijita De
Srijita DeCommerce Writer
Srijita De is a makeup and fashion enthusiast with a passion for empowering readers through practical tips and tricks to present their best selves with confidence. Armed with a postgraduate degree in English and Literature from the University of Calcutta, she has honed her writing skills and developed an in-depth understanding of the beauty and fashion world.

Read full bio of Srijita De
Krati Darak
Krati DarakAssociate Commerce Editor
Krati is an associate commerce editor, a certified skin care coach, and a beauty enthusiast. She has a master’s degree in advertising and publishing relations from DAVV University and three years of experience in writing and editing for different niches.

Read full bio of Krati Darak