7 Reef-Safe Sunscreens For Your Beach Travels

7 Reef-Safe Sunscreens For Your Beach Travels

Scientific research shows that sunscreen contributes to the killing of coral reefs, so it’s always best to opt for eco-friendly sunscreens for your beach travels (and everyday use). (Left: Image by @renskincare. Right: Image by @drunkelephant.)

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Believe it or not, sunscreen pollution is a real thing and threatens our coral reefs and aquatic life. So when planning a beach holiday, picking the right sunscreen can feel daunting. This is especially true if you’re dissecting a long list of ingredients with names you do not understand at the store, while discerning which ‘reef-friendly’ products are true to their claims and not just marketing gimmicks.

While sunscreen manufacturers are not required to provide evidence that their products do not harm marine life, we can certainly take certain measures to ensure we do our part for the environment. Helping our planet sometimes feels insurmountable, but a little bit of empathy and research can go miles in making a better world in the long run.

A general rule when shopping for reef-safe sunscreens includes these:

  1. Opt for mineral and non-nano zinc oxide-based products. Both mineral and non-nano particle zinc oxide are considered safer for your skin and the marine ecosystem, especially over long-term use and exposure.
  2. Steer clear of ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, and octocrylene. Several islands and most marine parks tend to ban sunscreens containing these ingredients.
  3. Waterproof sunscreen is better in ensuring the product stays on the skin and does not transfer onto coral reefs.

Though there isn’t a product out there that is 100% reef-safe yet, we found a few that do an excellent job of being as ocean-friendly as possible.

Joi Avocado Sunscreen (RM79)

Joi is a Malaysian skincare brand known for making products that are clean, natural, and good for the skin. So it came as no surprise when they released the Avocado Sunscreen, which is a joy (pun intended) for your skin and the environment.

This product is free from fragrance and preservatives and is non-comedogenic, which means your pores won’t get clogged up. It is also enriched with blue tansy oil, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Affordable and a worthy contender if you’re searching for reef-safe sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection.

Available for purchase at Joi.

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Caudalie Anti-Wrinkle Face Suncare (RM109)

An all-in-one skincare and sun protection product, Caudalie’s Anti-Wrinkle Face Sunscreen helps prevent wrinkles while moisturising and soothing sensitive skin. Its light and non-greasy formula make it the perfect choice for everyday use.

In their formula, Caudalie ensures to stay away from controversial filters known to be toxic to the environment. Its water-resistant formula is biodegradable and non-toxic for the marine ecosystem.

Available for purchase here.

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Salt & Stone Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 (AUD35 or approximately RM110)

Hailing from Australia and voted the best sunscreen by the August Man Grooming Award 2020 is a mineral-based and broad-spectrum sunscreen by Salt & Stone, meaning it offers UVA and UVB radiation protection.

This water- and sweat-resistant sunscreen give protection for up to 80 minutes. It also contains non-nano zinc oxide, which means the ingredient will not seep into your bloodstream, making it safe for your skin and the reefs.

Available for purchase here.

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Ren Clean Skincare Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 (RM185)

For an all clean product, try Ren’s Clean Screen Mineral Sunscreen. This formula is a silicone-free, mattifying mineral, and non-pore-clogging product providing antioxidants for your skin while protecting against environmental aggressors. Enriched with 22% non-nano zinc, rice starch, and passionfruit seed extract, it is a luxurious treat for the complexion too. Did we mention that it’s also vegan?

Available for purchase here.

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Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF30 (RM148)

This silicone-free daily sunscreen is loaded with powerful ingredients like grape juice, sunflower shoot extract, and astaxanthin that helps minimise the effects of photoageing on our skin.

The non-irritating, moisturising formula also minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and leaves no unwanted greasiness. Both marine and reef-safe, the Umbra Sheer is lightweight too, making it perfect for reapplication and leaves no white cast.

Available for purchase here.

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Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 (RM168)

Though not officially declared reef-safe, this sunscreen from Kiehl’s is considered an environmentally-friendly choice as it does not contain UV filters that can be harmful to Mother Nature.

It is a lightweight facial sunscreen with SPF50 that is moisturising and long-lasting. This powerful product also assists in reducing wrinkles and sunspots, and helps combat skin’s rough texture.

Available for purchase here.

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Supergoop! Zinc Screen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40 (RM195)

Blending into your skin effortlessly and ideal for those with sensitive skin is Supergoop!’s Zinc Screen. This lightweight sunscreen leaves no white cast and works seamlessly underneath makeup.

As a sunscreen that is 100% mineral, you can rest assured knowing you’re protected from the sun’s burning rays, blue light emission, infrared radiation, and environmental pollution. The low percentage of 15% zinc oxide in its formula is sufficient to protect your skin from UVA and UVB radiation while causing no harm to the environment.

Available for purchase here.

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Tabitha is a designer and photographer, whose idea of a good day involves spontaneous trips to the beach with her pooch. Outside of her love for all things design, she has a fondness for handwritten notes, movie nights and long drives with friends.