Quantcast
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
A female manatee and her calf in Florida's Crystal River in 2005. Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Florida's manatees are in trouble, so much trouble that wildlife officials are considering an unprecedented intervention — feeding them.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Solid waste landfills, like this one in southern California, are one of the major potential sources of PFAS in drinking and surface water in the U.S. dlinca / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is your drinking water contaminated with toxic forever chemicals?

A new study published in a special issue of the American Water Works Association Water Science journal Tuesday found that there were nearly 42,000 potential sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution that could contaminate surface water or drinking water in the U.S.

Read More Show Less
Best Period Underwear of 2022: 6 Sustainable Options

Switching to period panties doesn't have to be messy.

Reviews
Yulia Lisitsa / Getty Images

When your time of the month comes unexpectedly and you have to rush to the store, tampons, pads and panty liners are the majority of what you traditionally find when looking in the menstrual hygiene aisle. Recently, period underwear has risen in popularity to prevent the unnecessary waste that comes from using these products.

Period panties are a newer form of menstrual care that can both replace the need for disposable hygiene products and be a solution for preventing messy leaks. They're an ecologically smart alternative to single-use period products and a great long-term investment for those who want a more comfortable and easier menstrual solution.

Every person and menstrual cycle is unique. In this article, we'll explain the benefits of period underwear and help you find what type of underwear is perfect for you.

Read More Show Less
A large North Carolina farm flooded during Hurricane Florence. Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. / Flickr

By Cameron Oglesby

As North Carolina heads into another hurricane season, some residents and organizations fear the stormy season will again flood communities with hog waste.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Carmen Martínez Torrón / Moment / Getty Images

Its densely populated coastline combined with its limited connection to the Atlantic Ocean makes the Mediterranean Sea a hot spot for plastic pollution.

But how much plastic is actually floating in the sea, and where does it end up? A new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science this month used a model to determine that there are around 3,760 metric tons (approximately 4,144.7 U.S. tons) of plastic in the Mediterranean.

Read More Show Less
An artist's rendering of Lakeview Village. Cicade Design Inc. / Courtesy Lakeview Village
Lakeview Generating Station was once a coal plant in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto. But now, developers are reimagining it to become a mixed-use, lakefront village, where residents can walk or bike anywhere within the site in just 15 minutes.
Read More Show Less
Bolivia's Lake Poopó has dried up. Chiliguanca / CC BY-SA 4.0

By John Letzing and Andrew Berkley

Water scarcity will be the biggest climate-related threat to corporate assets like factories within the next few decades, according to a recent report – but it seems to have barely registered on investors' radar.

Read More Show Less
A new study correlates poorer surface water quality with nearby hydraulic fracturing but finds that the impacts aren't major enough to be considered harmful by federal regulators. Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago

A new study correlates poorer surface water quality with nearby hydraulic fracturing but finds that the impacts aren't major enough to be considered harmful by federal regulators. However, the researchers noted they weren't able to study "potentially more dangerous" substances related to fracking because of a lack of data.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A laborer works at the site of a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi province, China on Oct. 7, 2010. Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

By Michel Penke

More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.

Read More Show Less
Darryl Leniuk / Getty Images

Whether you live on the beach or in a landlocked city, all water eventually makes its way to the ocean, which is why it's so important to use reef-safe sunscreen. Traditional sunscreens can be toxic both to your body and to our important ocean environments, but there are plenty of safe options available.

At its most basic, reef-safe sunscreen is sunscreen that only uses mineral-based UV-blocking ingredients. However, there's no regulation on using the term "reef-safe," so it's important to thoroughly vet the ingredients of any product you're considering purchasing.

To save you some time and effort, we've done the research for you, and in this article, we'll break down the six best reef-safe sunscreens on the market today.

Why Switch to Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

Some places, like Hawaii, have banned many reef-harming sunscreens, but most Americans still have the choice to stick with traditional sunblocks or go the ocean-friendly route. Why switch to reef-safe sunscreen? There are a number of reasons, including:

  • According to National Geographic, there are as many as 82,000 kinds of chemicals from personal care products (including sunscreen) in the ocean, and in 2015 alone, around 14,000 tons of sunscreen ended up on coral reefs globally.
  • Even if you aren't near the ocean, when you shower after applying sunscreen, much of it goes down the drain, entering the wastewater stream and eventually ending up in the sea.
  • Ingredients found in commercially made sunscreens such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano titanium dioxide and nano zinc oxide are toxic not only for reefs, but also for sea urchins, fish, marine mammals and other ocean creatures.
  • Oxybenzone can be absorbed by humans and has even shown up in urine and breast milk.

The 7 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Now that you've got a few reasons to choose an ocean-friendly sunblock over an ocean-polluting one, here are our recommendations for the best reef-safe sunscreens on the market.

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Best Overall: Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen

Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen is our overall first choice for reef-safe sunscreen. Once applied, the full-spectrum protection begins instantly and the formula won't leave your skin feeling greasy or sticky. This sunscreen has the highest water resistance per the FDA and can offer protection in water for up to 80 minutes, after which it should be reapplied.

Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 3,800 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: This sunscreen doesn't contain any parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, petroleum, gluten, dairy or toxic chemicals. Its one active ingredient is non-nano zinc oxide, and it is not tested on animals.

Best Tinted Sunscreen: Olita Tinted Mineral Sunstick

Olita

If you're worried about mineral sunscreen leaving a white sheen on your face, we recommend trying Olita's Tinted Mineral Sunstick. The SPF 30 formula comes in two shades — Coco Bronze and Light Tan — and its compact size makes it easy to toss in your beach bag or makeup bag. Its made with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and aloe and is free of chemicals or fragrances.

Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars with about 100 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: Olita's tinted sunscreen goes on like a foundation and lasts about two hours before reapplication is needed. All of the company's products are verified by the Environmental Working Group, and Olita donates 10% of all sales to the Coral Reef Alliance to further reef protection.

Best Organic Sunscreen: Badger Clear Zinc SPF 40 Sunscreen

Another product we love is Badger Clear Zinc SPF 40 Sunscreen. This reef-safe, broad-spectrum formula only has four ingredients: zinc oxide, sunflower oil, beeswax and vitamin E. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and is fragrance-free.

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with about 200 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: This sunscreen is SPF 40 and doesn't use any fragrances, allergens, GMOs, parabens, dyes or artificial ingredients. Badger is a women-run B Corporation, and its sunscreen lotions meet the strict safety guidelines of the Environmental Working Group and Protect Land + Sea.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion

The SPF 30 formulation of Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen is made for people with very sensitive skin. It uses a 100% non-nano zinc and mineral-based formula that has an 80-minute water resistance before needing to be reapplied. It also includes natural ingredients like soothing organic sunflower oil, jojoba oil, shea butter and avocado.

Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,400 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: Babo Botanicals is a certified B Corp. Its sunscreen doesn't contain any added fragrances and is a PETA-certified cruelty-free product. It's also approved by the Environment Working Group.

Best for Kids: Earth Mama Uber-Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

This SPF 40 water-resistant product is pediatrician- and dermatologist-tested for irritants, making it a good choice for children. Earth Mama sunscreen is made from a non-nano zinc formula that sits on top of the skin instead of absorbing into the skin, so it can effectively deflect UV rays and offer maximum sun protection.

Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars with over 450 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: Earth Mama's kid-friendly sunscreen doesn't use chemicals or artificial fragrances. Using natural ingredients like shea butter and organic colloidal oatmeal helps kids who may get rashes on their skin. It is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and has UVA/UVB protection.

Best for Activity: Stream2Sea Sport Sunscreen

Unlike typical chemical sunscreens, Stream2Sea uses organic, mineral-based ingredients to shield against UV rays. It sits on your skin rather than being absorbed into your pores, so it's safer for your health while also being safe for marine life. It's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and holds up to sweat, so it's great for outdoor activities.

Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 440 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: This sunscreen's formula is eco-conscious and is free of parabens and sulfates. The packaging is also environmentally friendly, as it's made from sugarcane resin and recycled plastic milk jugs.

Best Face Sunscreen: REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen

This mattifying sunscreen is made with 22% non-nano, naturally derived zinc oxide for broad-spectrum UVA, UVB and blue-light protection. Its mattifying effect helps to reduce the visibility of pores, making it great for everyday use.

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 180 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: This product is silicone-free, cruelty-free and vegan. The packaging is made with recycled plastic and can be recycled again when the tube is empty. It uses ingredients such as yellow passionfruit and rice extract and is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores.

FAQ: Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Which sunscreen is safe for coral reefs?

There are many sunscreens that are safe for coral reefs. We recommend Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen and the Olita Tinted Mineral Sunstick as two of the best options on the market.

How do I know if sunscreen is reef safe?

The claim "reef-safe" is not regulated, so the only way to know if a sunscreen is safe for coral reefs is to check the ingredients list for yourself.

What sunscreen ingredients are not reef safe?

According to Save the Reef, when looking for reef-safe sunscreen products, the ingredients you should avoid include: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, PABA, parabens and triclosan. Additionally, avoid any forms of microplastics, like "exfoliating beads" as well as nanoparticles of zinc or titanium.

Do I need to wear reef-safe sunscreen?

You should wear sunscreen every day to protect your skin and help prevent skin cancer. Whether it's reef-friendly sunscreen is up to you, but we highly recommend it for both your own health and the health of the ocean ecosystem.

Trending
One type of algae in the Great Lakes, Cladophora, readily tangles up with plastic microfiber. Brenda Lafrancois / National Park Service

By Andrew Blok

Great Lakes algae is catching huge amounts of microplastics.

Researchers found that one type of algae, which has greatly expanded its range within the Great Lakes and is one of the most abundant algae by weight there, could catch up to one trillion pieces of microplastic in the Great Lakes.

Read More Show Less
People wade through floodwaters from Hurricane Ida on Aug. 31, 2021 in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Sean Rayford / Getty Images

After Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and its remnants struck New Jersey and New York, rescue efforts took place via boats and kayaks and people were often forced to walk through standing water. Some the standing water continues in flooded basements. It raises questions about the hazardous materials, such as wood planks, nails, random metal objects, as well as the less visible toxins, such as bacteria and fertilizers, which could be in the water.

Read More Show Less
L: Owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Billie Weiss /Getty Images R: The New-Indy Containerboard paper mill in Catawba, South Carolina. WFAE / Google Maps
In less than a year, a South Carolina paper mill has become one of the dirtiest polluters in the United States.
Read More Show Less
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
A female manatee and her calf in Florida's Crystal River in 2005. Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Florida's manatees are in trouble, so much trouble that wildlife officials are considering an unprecedented intervention — feeding them.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Solid waste landfills, like this one in southern California, are one of the major potential sources of PFAS in drinking and surface water in the U.S. dlinca / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is your drinking water contaminated with toxic forever chemicals?

A new study published in a special issue of the American Water Works Association Water Science journal Tuesday found that there were nearly 42,000 potential sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution that could contaminate surface water or drinking water in the U.S.

Read More Show Less
Best Period Underwear of 2022: 6 Sustainable Options

Switching to period panties doesn't have to be messy.

Reviews
Yulia Lisitsa / Getty Images

When your time of the month comes unexpectedly and you have to rush to the store, tampons, pads and panty liners are the majority of what you traditionally find when looking in the menstrual hygiene aisle. Recently, period underwear has risen in popularity to prevent the unnecessary waste that comes from using these products.

Period panties are a newer form of menstrual care that can both replace the need for disposable hygiene products and be a solution for preventing messy leaks. They're an ecologically smart alternative to single-use period products and a great long-term investment for those who want a more comfortable and easier menstrual solution.

Every person and menstrual cycle is unique. In this article, we'll explain the benefits of period underwear and help you find what type of underwear is perfect for you.

Read More Show Less
A large North Carolina farm flooded during Hurricane Florence. Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. / Flickr

By Cameron Oglesby

As North Carolina heads into another hurricane season, some residents and organizations fear the stormy season will again flood communities with hog waste.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Carmen Martínez Torrón / Moment / Getty Images

Its densely populated coastline combined with its limited connection to the Atlantic Ocean makes the Mediterranean Sea a hot spot for plastic pollution.

But how much plastic is actually floating in the sea, and where does it end up? A new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science this month used a model to determine that there are around 3,760 metric tons (approximately 4,144.7 U.S. tons) of plastic in the Mediterranean.

Read More Show Less
An artist's rendering of Lakeview Village. Cicade Design Inc. / Courtesy Lakeview Village
Lakeview Generating Station was once a coal plant in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto. But now, developers are reimagining it to become a mixed-use, lakefront village, where residents can walk or bike anywhere within the site in just 15 minutes.
Read More Show Less