reef safe sunscreen

Best Reef Safe Sunscreen for Beach Days

As the summer sun beckons us to the beach, it’s important to remember to protect our skin with sunscreen. But did you know that not all sunscreens are created equal when it comes to their impact on the environment? Reef safe sunscreen is a type of sunscreen that is specifically formulated to minimize harm to delicate coral reefs and marine life.

As concern for our oceans grows, more people are swapping traditional sunscreens for reef-friendly alternatives. But with so many products claiming to be “reef safe,” it’s tough to know which ones truly fit the bill.

Sunscreen and surf go hand-in-hand, but the ingredients in traditional sunscreens can wreak havoc on coral reefs. That’s why we’re cheering on reef safe sunscreens, the eco-friendly game-changers of the sunscreen world. We’ve got the scoop on what makes them special and our top picks for the best reef-friendly sunscreens out there.

The Best Reef-Safe and Reef-Friendly Sunscreens

As someone who’s spent countless hours snorkeling and surfing in the ocean, I know firsthand how important it is to protect not only our skin but also the delicate marine ecosystems we explore. That’s why I always reach for reef safe sunscreen before any beach day or underwater adventure.

Facing a sea of sunscreen options can be overwhelming, especially when you’re searching for ones that safeguard coral reefs and marine life. To make it easier, I’ve curated a list of top-notch, reef-friendly sunscreens that deliver robust sun protection without harming the environment.

Skorcha Australian Reef Safe Sunscreen (100% Organic)

Experience the ultimate in sun protection with Skorcha Organic Reef Safe Sunscreen, the best Australian reef safe sunscreen on the market. This 100% organic formula is packed with antioxidants and hydrating hyaluronic acid, ensuring not only superior skin health but also eco-friendliness. Skorcha also plants a mangrove tree for every product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems.

Ideal for all skin types, this sunscreen offers robust protection against harmful UV rays while nourishing your skin with its rich blend of natural ingredients. Say goodbye to synthetic chemicals and embrace the power of nature with Skorcha, the perfect guardian for both your skin and the marine environment.

organic face sunscreen

Skorcha Face


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Hydrating, antioxidant-boosted natural face sunscreen crafted for adventure and endurance sports.

Badger Reef Safe Sunscreen

I swear by Badger’s reef safe sunscreen for outdoor escapades. This brilliant mineral sunscreen, infused with non-nano zinc oxide, provides top-notch broad-spectrum protection against those harsh UVA and UVB rays. Plus, it’s water-resistant 40 minutes, making it perfect for a day of swimming and sweating. My second favourite sunscreen after Skorcha.

Badger Reef Safe Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

If you’re like me and have skin that’s as sensitive as a sunburn, then Blue Lizard’s mineral sunscreen is a lifesaver. It ditches harsh chemicals and fragrances that can set off a reaction, opting instead for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. And, as an added bonus, the bottle transforms into a brilliant blue hue when UV light gets too strong, reminding you to reapply.

blue lizard sunscreen

Thinkbaby SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick

For easy application on the go, I love Thinkbaby’s sunscreen stick. This reef safe sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide to provide SPF 30 protection. It glides on smoothly without leaving a white cast, and the compact size is perfect for throwing in your beach bag.

Thinkbaby SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion

If you’re struggling with sensitive skin, California Baby’s super sensitive lotion is a game-changer. It harnesses the power of titanium dioxide for gentle, effective sun protection that won’t irritate your skin. And as an added bonus, it’s free from common allergens like gluten, soy, and dairy.

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion

Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

I’m a huge fan of Babo Botanicals’ lightweight mineral lotion sunscreen. Not only does it provide an impressive SPF 50 protection, but it’s also reef safe, thanks to the non-nano zinc oxide. Plus, it’s infused with organic oils and extracts that nourish my skin.

Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

What to Look for in a Reef-Safe Sunscreen

With so many sunscreens claiming to be “reef-friendly,” it can be hard to know what to look for. As someone who’s done a lot of research on this topic, I’ve learned that there are a few key things to keep in mind when shopping for a reef safe sunscreen.

Active Ingredients

The most important thing to look for in a reef safe sunscreen is the active ingredients. You want to avoid chemical UV filters like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been shown to cause coral bleaching and harm marine life. Instead, opt for mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients. Look for “non-nano” formulas, as nanoparticles can also be harmful to marine life.

Water Resistance

If you plan on swimming or sweating, it’s important to choose a water resistant sunscreen. Look for products that are labeled as water resistant for either 40 or 80 minutes. Keep in mind that “water resistant” doesn’t mean “waterproof” – you’ll still need to reapply after getting out of the water or toweling off.

Broad Spectrum Protection

To protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, you need a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum sunscreens shield your skin from the rays that cause sunburn (UVB) as well as the ones that cause premature aging and skin cancer (UVA). Zinc oxide is one of the best ingredients for broad spectrum protection.

SPF Level

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. However, keep in mind that SPF only measures protection against UVB rays. To ensure you’re getting adequate UVA protection as well, look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label.

How to Properly Apply Reef-Safe Sunscreen for Maximum Sun Protection

Choosing a reef safe sunscreen is just the first step – it’s also important to apply it correctly to ensure you’re getting maximum protection. As someone who’s had my fair share of sunburns, I’ve learned that proper application is key.

Apply Liberally

Most people don’t use enough sunscreen to get the full SPF on the label. You need about one ounce (a shot glass full) to cover your entire body. I like to apply a generous amount to make sure I’m not missing any spots. It’s better to use too much than too little.

Reapply Every Two Hours

Sunscreen wears off over time, especially if you’re swimming or sweating. That’s why it’s important to reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re getting in and out of the water. I always set a timer on my phone to remind me when it’s time for another application.

Don’t Forget Often Missed Spots

It’s easy to miss certain areas when applying sunscreen, like the backs of your ears or the tops of your feet. I make sure to hit all the often-forgotten spots, including my neck, chest, and the part in my hair. A lip balm with SPF is also a must for me.

Let It Absorb Before Swimming

To give your reef safe sunscreen time to absorb and start working, it’s best to apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside or getting in the water. I like to put mine on before even putting on my swimsuit. That way, I know I’m protected as soon as I hit the beach or pool.

The Importance of Using Reef-Safe Sunscreen

reef safe sunscreen

As someone who loves the ocean and all the incredible creatures that call it home, using reef safe sunscreen is a no-brainer for me. But I know not everyone understands why it’s so important. Here’s what I’ve learned about the impact of sunscreen on marine ecosystems.

Impact of Sunscreen Chemicals on Coral Reefs

Many conventional sunscreens contain chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate that can harm coral reefs. When we swim or shower with these sunscreens on, the chemicals wash off into the water and can cause coral bleaching. This happens when the coral expels the colorful algae living inside it, turning it white and making it more susceptible to disease and death. In fact, a single drop of oxybenzone in 4.3 million gallons of water is enough to damage coral.

How Reef-Safe Sunscreens Help Protect Marine Ecosystems

If you’re planning a beach trip, make a conscious choice to opt for a reef safe sunscreen that utilizes mineral UV filters like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. This way, you’ll be protecting coral reefs and marine life from harm. These ingredients work by sitting on top of your skin, blocking UV rays, and preventing them from being absorbed into your skin and the water.

I know, changing your sunscreen routine can be tough, but trust me, it’s worth it. Switching to reef safe sunscreen is an effortless way to be an ocean hero. I hope this guide has empowered you to make a difference. Happy beach-going.

Key Takeaway:

When shopping for a reef-safe sunscreen, prioritize mineral active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and look for “non-nano” formulas to ensure a safe and effective choice for both your skin and the marine ecosystem.

FAQs in Relation to Reef Safe Sunscreen

Which sunscreens are actually reef safe?

Look for mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These physical sunblocks work like a force field, deflecting UV rays. Avoid chemical-laden sunscreens with oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene – the ‘villains’ causing coral bleaching.

How do I know if my sunscreen is reef safe?

Check the active ingredients. If it contains oxybenzone, octinoxate, or octocrylene, it’s likely harming coral reefs. Instead, opt for mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Think of these natural sunscreens as coral’s BFF.

What sunscreen is reef safe in Australia?

Skorcha Organic Face Sunscreen Tinted Mineral SPF 50 is an all natural, 100% organic Australian made reef safe sunscreen that comes in recyclable packaging for eco friendliness. They also plant a mangrove tree with every product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems.

What is reef damaging sunscreen?

Suncreen chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene are like “chemical warfare” for coral reefs. These toxins cause coral bleaching, threatening the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. Swap them for reef-safe mineral sunscreens and help protect coral reefs.


Choosing a reef safe sunscreen is a small but meaningful way to make a positive impact on the health of our oceans. By opting for mineral-based formulas that are free from harmful chemicals, we can help protect delicate coral reefs and the countless species that call them home.

Apart from the environmental effects of chemical based sunscreen, reef-safe sunscreen also packs a personal benefit. Gentle on sensitive skin, these natural formulas offer a gentle alternative for those prone to irritation. And, of course, they shield you from UVA and UVB rays, safeguarding against sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.

No need to sacrifice your skin or the sea when you’re getting ready for a beach day. Choose a reef safe sunscreen that’s gentle on both you and the ocean. Every little bit counts, and this one small change can add up to make a big impact on our planet’s ecosystems.

Mick Wadley

Mick Wadley – Founder of Skorcha

After a decade in the scorching sun as a roofer and going door-to-door in sales – I was forced to take my skin health seriously following a skin cancer scare before the age of 30.

So began my passion for suncare, which is both effective and natural. Crafted for adventure and endurance sports, Skorcha formulas are non-greasy, have no eye sting and absolutely no bullshit (100% Organic).

My goal is to share what I’ve learned about skin health and safe ingredients, inspiring happier, healthier lives through adventure, organic goodness and conservation!

Help us plant a mangrove tree with every Skorcha product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems and support underprivileged communities around the world.

Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Skorcha recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition.