Updated: June 11, 2022
Choosing a reliable sunscreen for your next beach vacation is not only important for your skin, but also the environment. Most sunscreens contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can seriously damage coral reefs and marine life. These chemicals are considered so harmful that Hawaii has passed legislation to prevent the sale of sunscreens that aren’t reef safe.
So which reef safe sunscreens are the best? We’ve gone out and tested them for you, on the sand and in the sea, in order to help you make the best choice. Check out our list of the best reef safe sunscreens and avoid a nasty sunburn while keeping our fishy friends happy and healthy.
Sun Bum is a relatively new U.S. brand that sells only reef safe products. Everything they make is made in the U.S. and we found them to be the most popular option available in the Maui surf shops. I guess there’s a reason for this as they were our favorite overall choice. We found their products go on easily as they aren’t as thick as some of the other reef safe options. Their lotion also provided good coverage and has a nice coconut tropical scent that reminds you that you’re on vacation. The only downside is that it was expensive to buy in the surf shops, so it’s better to stock up before you leave home.
Best for Kids & Travel Size Convenience
We also really liked the All Good products. If you’re the type of person that prefers carry-on only, they’re available in travel sizes so you can bring it on the plane with you, and also keep it handy during your travels. We found their kid-friendly option was super easy to apply, so we didn’t have to fight with our kids when we were putting it on. The adult version was also great for the beach as it held up well when we were in the water, but wasn’t super thick like most sport sunscreens.
Best for Surfing
ThinkSport uses a mineral-based, zinc formula with no biologically harmful chemicals, which led them to be the first to pass the Whole Foods’ Premium Body Care standard. If you’re heading out to hit the surf and want to keep your face protected, or planning to do some extended snorkeling without a shirt or rash guard, this is the one to choose. We found their product to be much thicker (and harder to apply) than the other products but it lasted the longest in the water and provided the most protection. If you’re going to be in the water for an extended period of time, this is the one for you.
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