6 Plastic-Free Reef-Safe Sunscreens to Protect Your Skin & Planet

regular sunscreens can harm beautiful coral reefs and their ecosystems like this one, so plastic-free reef-safe sunscreens are super important.

Everyone needs to be using sunscreen to protect our skin from damage, but unfortunately, many sunscreens damage the coral reefs at the same time as they’re protecting us. The chemicals in many sun screens contribute to bleaching and the waste from plastic sunscreen containers piles up in our ecosystems. What if there was a better way, like magical plastic-free reef-safe sunscreens?

You probably know where this is going. There are! Here are six great options for reef-safe sunscreens that you can swap out during your time in the sun. They’re all either plastic-free or otherwise zero-waste as indicated.

Note: I try to shop from brands produced my home so I have not sampled all of these. I’ve included some products I haven’t tried because I want you to be able to find a sunscreen produced nearer you that might be a good fit, even if you’re reading this on the other side of the globe.

Raw Elements (USA)

  • Packaging: plastic free aluminum tin options + baby/kids cardboard tube
  • Ingredients features: non-nano, UVA/UVB, non-Oxybenzone
  • SPF options: 30+
  • Cost: $18.99/tin or $36.78 for bundle (face/body non-tinted & face tinted)
  • Other notes: made & sourced entirely in USA; tinted, non-tinted, & baby/kids options; 1% for the planet company

I’ve personally used this one and love it. I’m a repeat buyer. A little goes a long way and it serves as a long lasting moisturizer for me all day. I’m also a huge fan of the company, who founded World Reef Day and does a lot of work to educate the public on protecting our reefs and ocean ecosystems. Plus they’re transparent about their sustainability, where they’re lacking, and how they’re working on improving.

I do find that the non-tinted sunscreen is very, very white and can go on thick so I like to get the bundle and add a little tinted sunscreen on top so I don’t appear so ghostly. It can take a while to soak in, especially if you have thick body hair, so for people with darker skin I would only recommend the tinted version.

Raw Love (USA)

  • Packaging: plastic free aluminum tin options + baby/kids cardboard tube
  • Ingredients features: certified organic, animal-cruelty free, non-nano, oxybenzone free, UVA/UVB
  • SPF options: 35+
  • Cost: $16.99 per 2oz tin; $24.99 for 4oz tin (face/body non-tinted & face tinted)
  • Other notes: made & sourced entirely in USA; tinted, non-tinted, & baby/kids options; 1% for the planet company

On the Raw Love website, they outline why reef-safe sunscreen is so important.

Each year between 4000-6000 metric tons (4400-6600 US tons) of sunscreen washes off swimmers and snorkelers into coral reef environments. Four common sunscreen ingredients were shown to cause complete coral bleaching at very low concentrations.

https://rawlovesunscreen.com/reef-friendly-sunscreen/

All Good (USA)

  • Packaging: plastic-free aluminum tin options + baby/kids cardboard tube
  • Ingredients features: non-nano, animal cruelty free, UVA/UVB, oxybenzone free
  • SPF options: 50+
  • Cost: $9.99/tin for 1oz non-tinted or $10.99 for 1oz tinted
  • Other notes: tinted, non-tinted options; 1% for the planet company, certified B Corporation

Bondi Organics (Australia)

  • Packaging: plastic free aluminum tin
  • Ingredients features: non-nano, animal cruelty free, UVA/UVB, palm oil free, certified organic
  • SPF options: SPF 30+
  • Cost: $24.95 AUD/50g tin
  • Other notes: designed as a tinted foundation with sunscreen, vegan

For other eco-friendly product recommendations check these posts:

40 PLASTIC-FREE TOOTHBRUSHES* & SUSTAINABLE DENTAL CARE PRODUCTS FOR A ZERO-WASTE BATHROOM

6 SUSTAINABLE VEGAN MAKEUP BRANDS

PLASTIC-FREE, VEGAN DEODORANTS TO KEEP YOUR PITS & PLANET HEALTHY

SunButter (Australia)

  • Packaging: aluminum tins
  • Ingredients features: sunscreen is vegan, palm-oil free
  • SPF options: SPF 50+, plus longer lasting, thick zinc formula for extreme outdoor activity
  • Cost: $29.95 AUD for 230 mg regular sunscreen, $22.75 for 70g sun zinc
  • Other notes: rubs in clear, works under liquid & mineral makeup

Amazinc (Czech Republic)

  • Packaging: plastic-free aluminum bottle + plastic-free cardboard tin options
  • Ingredients features: mineral, 2 vegan options, non-nano, UVA/UVB, non-Oxybenzone
  • SPF options: 30+ and 50+
  • Cost: €24.95/150ml bottle; €18.45 for SPF 30+ vegan cardboard tin, 11.95 euro for SPF 50+ cardboard tin
  • Other notes: butter is pink tinted to prevent white cast on skin, and also prevents against cold & wind

How to upcycle your aluminum tins for travel

There are countless ways to upcycle your aluminum tins from sunscreens, many specifically for travel. Here are a few ideas:

  1. keep your jewelry separate by storing your earrings in one tin, rings in another, and necklaces in another
  2. use your tins as a container for your shampoo/conditioner bars
  3. DIY your own makeup or lotion to refill the tins
  4. store snacks for long road trips
  5. keep your cotton makeup rounds all together
  6. store hair ties
  7. coins
  8. sim cards & flash drives
  9. wind up your phone chargers and other cords and store them compactly in a tin
  10. bring an empty tin in your bag to keep small leftovers from restaurants/cafes while out and about

Do you know of any other great plastic-free reef-safe sunscreens that should be on this list? Any other great ideas for upcycling? Let me know in the comments below!

6 Plastic-Free Reef-Safe Sunscreens to Protect Your Skin & Planet
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