sustainable sunscreen

Top 5 Eco-friendly Sunscreens

Let’s talk about sunscreen!

I’ve always hated sunscreen. I remember when I was younger my mom made me wear a large t-shirt in the pool and pile on white cast sunscreen so that I didn’t burn to a crisp. Can anybody else relate?? I always felt like sunscreen was the enemy as I slathered it onto my skin for the first of many applications.

As I’ve aged I realize how important it is to use sunscreen every single day to protect against skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Did you know that 90% of the signs of aging come from the sun?

As the ozone layer is depleting, our risk for harmful UV Rays increases, so wearing sunscreen now is even more important than it was when I was just a kid.

But I wanted to find something that worked for me this time around, and that I would feel GOOD about putting on instead of dreading the process.

There are a lot of sunscreens out there as you can imagine, and unfortunately, a lot of them on the market contain common ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate which are harmful chemicals that absorb into your skin, can interrupt hormones, and cause damage to coral reefs.

Chemical Based Sunscreens

Most products are chemical-based sunscreens. That means they are absorbed into your skin, absorb the UV Rays, and then turn the rays into safer radiation that is released as heat from your skin. This is where hormonal issues can come in if you apply sunscreen every day as I do. The chemicals can act as endocrine disruptors. So that is extremely important for pregnant women or children.

Also, when chemical sunscreens wash off your body when you’re in the water, they may harm aquatic life. These chemical nanoparticles can disrupt coral reproduction and growth cycles, ultimately leading to bleaching.

You want to be safe and smart about what you are putting into your body. So instead of a chemical-based sunscreen, opt for a more eco-friendly and people-friendly mineral sunscreen.

coral reefs
uv rays

Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens have the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are reef safe and don’t absorb into your skin. They sit atop your skin and reflect and scatter the UV rays completely. But these ingredients CAN have small particles that absorb into your skin. Mineral sunscreens are what give the white cast appearance. So they reduce them to nano-sized particles to reduce the cast. I encourage you to look for nano-free zinc oxide or titanium oxide sunscreens. Which means the particles aren’t small enough to penetrate your skin. But either way, the ingredients are safer all around so if the product isn’t nano-free – it is still generally safest for you and the environment.

I will note that mineral-based sunscreens reflect the UV rays don’t always protect as much as sunscreens that absorb the UV rays. So you want to make sure you’re reapplying often.

no-go sunscreen ingredient list

There is a list of products that the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory or HEL says you should make sure are left out of your products in order to protect coral reefs and marine life.

The HEL LIST includes:

  • Any form of microplastic sphere or beads.
  • Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • Octocrylene
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Methyl Paraben
  • Ethyl Paraben
  • Propyl Paraben
  • Butyl Paraben
  • Benzyl Paraben
  • Triclosan

They even have a certification, the Protect Land + Sea Certification Seal, which is a hexagon with a turtle in the middle. If you’re buying a product with this seal, you know that the product does not contain ingredients that are environmental pollutants.

sustainable sunscreen

In my search, I looked for sunscreens that were:

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Reef safe formulas
  • No white cast

Here is a list of my top 5 eco-friendly mineral sunscreens with nano-free zinc oxide or titanium oxide!

1. Raw Elements Face and Body Sunscreen

I love this sunscreen because it is:

  • Super clean
  • Natural ingredients
  • Cruelty-free
  • Non-nano
  • Packaged in reusable containers
  • Contains antioxidants

2. Mama Kuleana Sunscreen

This sunscreen is:

  • 100% Microplastic Free
  • Fully Biodegradable
  • Packaged in Compostable Jars with Screw Top
  • Super clean ingreidents

3. Versed guards up sunscreen

Versed feels like butter on your skin, and is:

  • Cruelty-Free
  • Vegan
  • Paraben-free
  • Non-nano
  • Packaged with 79% post-consumer recycled materials
sustainable sunscreens

4. Supergoop matte screen sunscreen

This sunscreen is:

  • 100% mineral
  • Matte creamy finish
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Made with eco-friendly packaging

5. Biossance sheer mineral sunscreen

Biossance sunscreen is:

  • Non- nano
  • Non-toxic
  • Reef safe
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
At the end of the day – using sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all! What sunscreen do you use? What do you look for in sunscreen? If you’re looking for more Sustainable Swaps – Check out my post on 5 Simple, Sustainable Summer Swaps here!

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