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What Does Reef Safe Sunscreen Mean? 10 Reef Safe Sunscreens that Actually Work.

What Does Reef Safe Sunscreen Mean? 10 Reef Safe Sunscreens that Actually Work.

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When planing your next adventure you might see some beaches that say reef safe sunscreen only.

What does reef safe sunscreen mean? What sunscreens should you buy that are reef safe?

Here are the top 10 highly rated reef safe sunscreens that will protect your skin and are safe for the reefs.

You will also find everything you need to know about what reef safe sunscreen and why certain sunscreens are banned in some locations.

Top 10 Reef Safe Sunscreens to Buy on Amazon

These are the top 10 reef safe sunscreens based on the best amazon reviews and ratings.

#1 Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray with Coconut Oil, SPF 50

Alba Botanical Sunscreen is the top rated reef proof sunscreen on Amazon. It is a spray on sunscreen. It’s also very affordable and is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.

#2 Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen

This Thinksport Sunscreen one of my very top recommendations. It comes in at the top of almost every list of reef safe sunscreen reviews. It’s also rated 4.5 out of 5 stars and is priced under $10.

#3 Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Spray

Another spray on choice. Sun Bum Sunscreen is not only reef safe but it is also vegan and has added moisturizers and vitamin E for healthy skin. Another great option that is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.

#4 Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ 

Thinkbaby safe sunscreen is another top rated option with 4.5 out of 5 stars. Plus it’s certified cruelty free, gluten free & vegan. The Thinkbaby brand also has a ton of different reef safe options for babies as well as kids.

#5 Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30, 5oz Bottle

Coming in at 4.4 stars out of 5 stars Blue Lizard is a great reef safe sunscreen. It is also a mineral sunscreen and does not contain chemical active ingredients.

#6 Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance Sunscreen – SPF 30

At 4.1 stars out of 5 Hawaiian Tropic is a great option if you are looking for something that smells great and is reef safe. It contains Contains vitamins C and E and mango fruit extract and a shea butter complex to keep your skin healthy and smelling tropical.

#7 Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

This sunscreen is hypoallergenic and oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, cruelty and paraben Free. Sun Bum Sunscreen is rated 4.6 out of 5 on Amazon and is a popular reef safe option.

#8 Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion – Mineral Sunscreen – Non-Nano

This reef safe option is a zinc-based, mineral formula that is great for sensitive skin. It’s environmentally friendly and contains no harsh ingredients. Babo botanicals sunscreen comes in at 3.7 out of 5 stars.

#9 Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

Another mineral based option that is vegan and reef friendly. Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars and is chemical free.

#10 Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50

Aveeno Positively Mineral Sunscreen is reef safe and is rated 4 out of 5 stars. The link below is a TSA travel friendly size under 3 fl oz. It is made with naturally-sourced 100% zinc oxide active ingredient and nourishing oat. Perfect for sensitive skin.

What is Reef Safe Sunscreen?

Hawaii is the first state in the US to ban the sale of certain type of sunscreen that hurt the coral reefs. The new law is effective January 2021 but I didn’t even realize that our sunscreen is hurting the reefs. There is no need to wait until then to start doing our part. 

Planing a trip to Hawaii? Check out these hawaii Instagram caption ideas for all your photos.

Other popular tourists destinations have also created a ban including: Key West, FL; The Caribbean Island of Bonaire, Palau, and may other place are jumping on board to keep our reefs safe.

You will probably want to bring your own reef safe sunscreen with you because it will be overpriced if you with to purchase at your resort or destination.

what is reef safe sunscreen

Why is our Sunscreen Bad for The Coral Reefs?

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the ingredients found in most sunscreens that are getting into our oceans and causing bleaching of the coral reefs. When the corals get bleached they it becomes very easy for them to get diseased and die.

You may think that your sunscreen is safe but some major brands such Tropicana, Bannana Boat and Coppertone can contain theses ingredients. The National Park Service States:

“We may not realize that the products covering our skin wash off when we enter the water, and it adds up! Research tells us that 4,000 to 6,000 TONS of sunscreen enters reef areas annually. This does not spread out rapidly or evenly over the entire ocean, but concentrates on popular tourist sites. It is estimated that 90% of snorkeling/diving tourists are concentrated on 10% of the world’s reefs. “

I had no idea that so much sunscreen was harming the reefs! So what can we do to help save the reefs? What sunscreens are safe for our oceans?

best reef safe sunscreens

Reef Safe Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

When you are shopping for sunscreen you will want to look for the following things:

#1 Make sure that they don’t have oxybenzone and octinoxate in the ingredients. 

#2 Look for the term “non-nano” which means that particles in the sunscreen are above 100 nanometers in size so that they can’t enter into the corals. 

#3 Mineral based sunscreen with the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Mineral based sunscreen will still help you from getting burnt but these ingredients don’t harm the reefs. 

#4 Reef-safe labels. Now that people are aware of the harmful effects more sunscreen manufactures are making specific reef safe sunscreen. 

I hope that this guide helps you to learn more about reef safe sunscreen and how pick out the perfect sunscreen for your next adventure.

I know that I am going to be getting some of the sunscreens above for my next tropical adventure.

I want to be prepared for the sunscreen ban, amazing days on the beach and do my part to keep our reefs safe.

Diving Zenobia

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

I hope that you won't stop writing such interesting articles. I'm waiting for more of your content. It's so good that i'm going follow you!


Monday 20th of January 2020

Thank you so much! I am glad that you love it :)