There is a lot of talk lately about reef safe sunscreen and I am SO GLAD! We get one set of skin in this life and we need to take care of it – something I wish I could tell my younger self who spent way too much time using a
cancer tanning bed. Here in Hawaii, sunscreen is a daily part of my beauty routine. I don’t leave the house without something that contains an SPF. The damage that UVA and UVB rays can do to your skin is scary, so I try to be as aware as possible about it. When I’m in the water, there’s something else I try to be aware of – the living habitats that are trying to exist there! Today I want to dive into the world of reef safe sunscreen, because I think it’s an important conversation whether you spend a lot of time in the water, are planning a tropical trip or just want to be a little bit more eco-conscious about what you’re putting into our world’s oceans and on your body. Admittedly, when I first began creating this post and looking into things, one of the first things I realized was how unregulated the term “reef safe” truly is. I mean – there is a brand that is called REEF SAFE, but contains dangerous ingredients. It kind of made my heart sink, because how many people probably buy that thinking they are doing something good? My Ultimate Guide To Reef Safe Sunscreen is not only going to cover the best coral reef safe sunscreens and skincare you can buy, but what reef safe means and why I recommend knowing about it 🙂 If that’s something you are interested in or want to learn more about…I hope you’ll stick around for a full reef safe sunscreen list!
Ultimate Guide To Reef Safe Sunscreen
First of all – let’s talk a little bit about why it’s important to be conscious about the ingredient list in your sunscreen. Aside from the fact that you should know what you’re slathering all over your body, reef contamination is a sad byproduct of many popular sunscreens on the market. Certain ingredients in sunscreen are actually contributing factors to the death of many reef creatures – EEK! An excerpt from the Pacific Whale Foundation:
“Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two common active ingredients in sunscreen that can dramatically harm the tiny animals that make up our fragile coral reef ecosystems. Researches are finding that these chemicals can cause coral viruses, which in turn can cause bleaching and polyp death. They’ve even been shown to disrupt the endocrine systems of larger marine creatures, like shrimps and clams.”
So, what can you do? Be aware. Just by reading this post you’re taking a huge first step to understanding why reef and ocean conservation are so important. Cover up with hats, rash guards and beach umbrellas. And finally – read the labels on your sunscreen and suncare products. I know that last bit can feel a little bit overwhelming, so that’s why I’m sharing my favorites today. I’ve done all the legwork on these brands and products, researching ingredients and making sure they are not only reef-safe, but do the job in protecting your skin against the sun! So let’s dive in…
COOLA Suncare – I’ve talked before about my love for COOLA suncare (particularly that delicious Pina Colada scent), because of its all-natural ingredients in makeup and suncare products. I love that it’s made with 70% organic ingredients and comes in a variety of different products. That said, their mineral line of sunscreens are what you want to use while cruising the water. Their Mineral Face SPF 30 is what I use – no breakouts! And if you’re wanting something with a little color, their Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Stick is a winner!
Badger Suncare – Badger has the whole family covered with formulas for Babies, Kids + Adults. Badger uses only zinc oxide as the main ingredient to combat harmful sun damage, which means that it blocks UVA and UVB rays by sitting on top of the skin.
Sun Bum – There is a little bit of back and forth about Sun Bum, but I will say that their Baby Bum line is made of all natural products and is mineral-based. Their products are also GMO-free and vegan. Try their Baby Bum Face Stick or Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50.
All Good – A sport variety that is both waterproof and SPF 30, All Good is gluten free and perfect for water activities since it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Be sure to check out their other products too, since the entire brand is eco-friendly 🙂
Stream2Sea – Stream2Sea lives off the motto “When chemicals from sunscreens, shampoo, leave-in conditioner, moisturizers and more end up in freshwater sources, the balance is disrupted. These ingredients may cause physiological changes in aquatic organisms and may become lethal at high concentrations.” So all of their products are a reflection of making this world a better place – they’re biodegradable and put both the health of the water and your body at the forefront. I love, love, love what they’re doing. Their sport lotion is NOT greasy – huge win – and they make a variety of other products for everyday use too 🙂
Manda Sun Paste – How can I not love a product that promotes saving Hawaii’s reefs right on its homepage?! This paste is SPF 50 and made with food-grade ingredients, so you can feel confident wearing it whether you are going on a dive or leisurely swim. It also contains Thanaka, a natural cosmetic that provides natural sun protection, is high in antioxidants, is regenerative, and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-acne, and anti-aging properties. Manda says that the Burmese people have been using Thanaka for over 2000 years to protect and beautify the skin!
I’d be remiss in not mentioning a few of my favorite rashguards! This trendy striped number never goes out of style and you can’t go wrong with a basic from this iconic surf brand (under $40 and a ton of colors to choose from!). If you’re in the market for a one piece rash guard suit, this one is adorable!
We covered A LOT of ground today and even if you aren’t in the market for new sunscreen or suncare products, I hope you might have learned a thing or two about conserving our beautiful ocean and reefs. If you want to learn more about protecting our most precious resource, I encourage you to check out Environmental Working Group, that offers fantastic information, as well as harmful ingredients and where they source their findings.
Now let’s chat – did you know about being reef safe? Do you use any of these products?