6 Eco-friendly, Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Reef Safe Sunscreen Brands

July 11, 2019 3 min read

4 Comments

6 Eco-friendly, Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Reef Safe Sunscreen Brands

We use sunscreen to stay safe at the beach from the sun’s harmful rays. But when we splash into the water, the chemicals contained in our sunscreen endanger marine life. Here are just a few of the negative effects of our sunscreen: coral reef bleaching, impaired photosynthesis, and growth of algae, defects in young mussels and impaired reproductive functions for both fish and sea urchins. 


It may seem like an insignificant amount of sunscreen would enter the water off our skin. But when there are thousands of people at a beach that small amount adds up. The National Park Service estimates that 4,000 - 6,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reefs annually.  


Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid 

Hawaii became the first state to officially ban sunscreens containing two of the most harmful ingredients of sunscreen: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Other moderately harmful chemicals used to filter the sunlight include Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene. The least harmful filters in products are the mineral-based ingredients of Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide. 

While there is no definite standard, “reef safe” brands usually eliminate the two most toxic chemicals banned in Hawaii. However, you should also avoid moderately toxic ingredients when possible as well as several other non-biodegradable ingredients. Look for brands labeled “biodegradable,” which should also exclude PABA, 4-methylbenzylidene, camphor, and butylparaben. 


Playing it Safe

Always remember that t-shirts, shorts, hats, and scarves also prevent the sun without any risk to the reefs. When you cover up in the hours with the most direct sunlight each day, you can reduce the need to use sunscreen. This keeps even the lesser toxic ingredients found in mineral sunscreen down to a bare minimum. Also, remember to apply your sunscreen at least 20 minutes before entering the water. 

Here are our top picks for sunscreens that protect the reefs. We’ve also searched for biodegradable brands with cruelty-free testing and vegan ingredients to include in our handpicked eco-friendly sunscreen list. 



Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Reef Safe Sunscreens


All Good Sport Reef Safe Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

      1. Active Ingredient: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 12% 
      2. Reef safe, cruelty-free, vegan and gluten-free
      3. Includes organic green tea, rose hips and buriti oil 


    Badger Active Natural Mineral Cream SPF 30 unscented sunscreen

      1. Active Ingredient: Uncoated Clear Zinc Oxide 18.75%
      2. Top rated by the Environmental Working Group
      3. Reef safe, biodegradable and cruelty-free, but not vegan: contains beeswax
      4. Contains just five 98% certified organic ingredients

    Hello Bello Mineral Sunscreen Lotion 

      1. Active Ingredient: Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 20%
      2. Environmental Working Group approved
      3. Reef safe, biodegradable, cruelty-free, vegan and gluten-free
      4. No PABA, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, soy or peanut

    MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28

    1. Active Ingredients: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 11.6% (ZinClear™) and Titanium Dioxide .67%  
    2. Environmental Working Group Partner
    3. Reef safe, biodegradable, cruelty-free, vegan and gluten-free
    4. No GMO, Parabens or Phthalates 
    5. Donates 1 percent of sales to Surfrider Foundation


    Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen 

      1. Active Ingredient: Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 23%
      2. Top rated by the Environmental Working Group
      3. Reef safe, biodegradable, cruelty-free, and gluten-free, but not vegan: contains beeswax
      4. No GMO, Soy or Nuts 
      5. Recyclable packaging

    Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen 

      1. Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 20%
      2. Top rated by the Environmental Working Group
      3. Reef safe, cruelty-free, vegan and gluten-free
      4. No Parabens or Phthalates

     


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    4 Responses

    Kelly
    Kelly

    July 28, 2021

    There is also beeswax in the All Good brand, so this one should also not be listed as Vegan. What a shame.

    ltntxbtgfs
    ltntxbtgfs

    August 31, 2020

    Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

    Alexa
    Alexa

    June 30, 2020

    Great list although I’m not sure some of these should be on here as they use beeswax which is not vegan :(

    Allison
    Allison

    June 30, 2020

    The All Good Sunscreen (listed above) is not vegan as you stated. It contains Beeswax.

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