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Travelers who spend time in the sun need ample protection against its harsh rays. At the same time, keeping our coral reefs and marine life preserved is essential. TFG readers share their picks for the best reef safe sunscreen brands.
Reef Safe Sunscreens
Written By: Michelle Nati
Table Of Contents
If you’re a sun worshipper, swimmer, snorkeler, or just care about the environment, preserving the world’s coral reefs and marine biosphere is likely a huge concern. Yet, so is protecting your skin as you explore a fun water destination!
Luckily, more products are offering good sun protection without harming the environment. Our readers weigh in by sharing their favorite reef safe sunscreens.
Best Options for Reef Safe Sunscreen
Thinkbaby Is the Best Sunscreen for Bodies and Water Bodies
While traveling to places where ocean habitats are located, travelers have seen Thinkbaby on many a reef safe sunscreen list. With its pleasing scent and easy application, it’s a favorite of many travelers, and it’s a safe alternative to the more toxic sunscreens out there. It’s also highly recommended for those with sensitive skin.
One reader called it “perfect for our kids,” while another states that it’s even helpful for her allergies. “One of my kids and I have horrible allergies to many sunscreens (Neutrogena, etc.), and have never had a reaction to ThinkBaby.”
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Best Sunscreen for Kids Comes From Thinkbaby
You already know Thinkbaby is a popular and safe sunscreen among travelers and destinations with fragile ecosystems, but did you know it comes in an easy to pack and use sunscreen stick? A stick is less messy and can be a little easier to cover all areas, especially on the sensitive skin of children. Just apply to skin like you would a deodorant, and you’re off to enjoy safe fun in the sun.
One reader, who prefers to apply it in this fashion, says, “It’s THE BEST reef safe sunscreen.” Kids obviously love it, too!
Badger Sunscreen Ingredients Won’t Hurt the Environment
Badger is another reader recommended product for sensitive skin that gets the job safely done. While some report that it has a thick consistency, can be hard to rub in and leaves a white residue, readers report that it does indeed offer substantial protection in the sun, and they are happy with the product overall.
One says it “works great,” while another says her concerns are more environmental. “This is my favorite sunscreen, particularly because it is reef safe.”
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Best Sunscreen for Infants Comes From Baby Bum
TFG readers love Baby Bum not only for themselves but also for their kids. It doesn’t feel sticky in humidity, goes on smooth, and will blend into your baby’s skin nicely without leaving a white film that mineral-based sunscreens tend to do. Its smell and reef-friendly ingredients make it the sunscreen travelers return to again and again.
Surfers Swear Manda Is Sunscreen Reef Safe and Organic
Manda sunscreen is a little more expensive, but it’s worth it for its powerful organic ingredients that give ample coverage without hurting the environment. The wooden jar packaging is cute too!
Made with surfers and ocean lovers in mind, it goes on thick, smells nice, and rubs into skin easily. Readers love this sunscreen, with one saying it’s her “go-to” travel product.
Here’s a list of the best insect-repellent products recommended by frequent travelers!
Rubber Ducky Is Amazing for Safe Sun and Reef Protection
Rubber Ducky is not just a sunscreen—it’s a spray that both moisturizers and protects your skin, so if you have any skin imperfections, it offers ample coverage and a little goes a long way.
It goes on smooth and is great for sensitive skin, too. One reader says, “I used this in Mexico and it worked well.”
Goddess Biodegradable Sunscreen Is a Reader Favorite
With a name like Goddess Garden, could this sunscreen be anything but environmentally friendly? This mineral-based product is an excellent protectant that goes on well, stays on, and is a powerful barrier between you and the sun’s harsh rays. Readers give it extremely high marks, with one saying, “This is the best sunscreen, especially for protection for my face.”
Reef Repair Non-Staining Sunscreen Hits All the Right Marks
Reef Repair provides protection against any kind of damage the sun can do—from immediate sunburn to skin cancer later in life and wrinkles caused by harmful UV rays.
Although it has mixed reviews, one of our readers claims that it’s absolutely fantastic. The ingredients are all-natural and reef safe, but it may not be qualified for certain destinations. Check with your tour operator before you go.
Thinksport Sunscreen Is Gentle on Marine Life
This Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen has three levels of water resistance. Not water resistant, water resistant (40 minutes) and water resistant (80 minutes). Safe for children, and safe for the earth with its reef safe friendly sun lotion.
While not all-purpose sun protection, one reviewer mentions “loving this product” and another one shares “I’m always on the hunt for good facial sunscreen, and I was reading the bottle one day and noticed it said it could be used on the face. Then I finally read the ingredients and was really impressed. So I started using it on my face, and no lie, this stuff keeps my face protected AND matte all day, even in Miami humidity and sun. Seriously impressed. I also have very sensitive skin and it doesn’t irritate me at all.”
Some products claim to be “reef-safe” yet actually contain oxybenzone. This sunscreen truly has natural ingredients so you can enjoy a water destination knowing you’ve done your part.
Find out the most creative ways our readers pack creams, toners, and foundations for travel!
Shop: Beauty Counter
Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin Is Beautycounter
Another popular reef-safe sunscreen according to readers comes from Beautycounter. It’s easy and smooth to apply, and it disappears completely as it sinks into the skin, offering invisible yet ample coverage. Readers love it, with one gushing that it’s a “wonderful product.”
Reef Safe Sunscreen Comparison Chart
|MODEL||BRAND||RATING | PRICE|
|ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50||“One of my kids and I have horrible allergies to many sunscreens (Neutrogena, etc.), and have never had a reaction to ThinkBaby.”||Check Price|
|Thinkbaby Stick SPF 30||“It’s THE BEST reef safe sunscreen.”||Check Price|
|Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 30+||“This is my favorite sunscreen, particularly because it is reef safe.”||Check Price|
|Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50||Its smell and ingredients make it the sunscreen travelers return to again and again for solid coverage.||Check Price|
|Manda Organic Sun Paste SPF 50||Made with surfers in mind, it goes on thick, smells nice, and rubs into skin easily.||Check Price|
|Rubber Ducky Sunscreen SPF 44||“I used this in Mexico and it worked well.”||Check Price|
|Goddess Garden Organics SPF 30||“This is the best sunscreen, especially for protection for my face.”||Check Price|
|Reef Repair Sunscreen SPF30+||Reef Repair provides protection against any kind of damage the sun can do.||Check Price|
|Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen||“Loving this product”||Check Price|
|Beautycounter Sunscreen SPF 30||"It’s easy and smooth to apply, and it disappears completely as it sinks into the skin."||Check Price|
What Is Reef Safe Sunscreen?
Coral-harming chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate are coral bleaching agents that are said to be contributing factors in reef destruction. By 2021, Hawaii will be one of the first states to ban the use of sunscreens with these ingredients and others that are dangerous to ocean life. Surely, more states and countries will follow suit and declare a “reef safe sunscreen Hawaii-like” area as well.
Popular sunscreen brands are already getting ahead of the ban by creating products with reef safe sunscreen ingredients that are less toxic to the environment. For consumers, choosing the right sunscreen is a must, not only to ward off sunburn and skin cancer but to safeguard our oceans, all while protecting you and preserving marine life for generations to come.
How to Pack Your Toiletries
Be sure to read our complete guide to packing toiletries here. It walks you through, step by step, how to choose what to pack, how to downsize what you have, and how to pack it.
In addition, watch this video to see how to pack your toiletries into your carry-on!
Do a test run to see if everything fits in your toiletry bag. If your belongings don’t fit, consider using multi-use products such as a shampoo/conditioner combo, using conditioner as shaving cream, or baby shampoo for your hair and body.
If you’ll be traveling for a longer time, you can buy toiletries at your destination.
Check out this post on the best hanging toiletry bag
What is your favorite coral reef safe sunscreen? Comment below!
Read these articles for more travel skincare products:
- What’s the Best Tinted Sunscreen for Your Face? Try These Products
- The 10 Best Face Sunscreens for Travel
- What’s the Best Moisturizer with SPF for Travel? 10 Top Recommendations
- Ways to Prevent Breakouts While Traveling
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Thank you for this! Headed to Maui in October and I was struggling for what to pack for sunscreen options!