Top 11 Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Coral reefs are extremely important for the survival of our planet. They protect coastlines from storm surges, and they create a home for a huge amount of marine life.

Many sunscreens are unfortunately developed with harmful ingredients that are toxic to coral reefs. These ingredients include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, parabens, and triclosan. As ocean lovers it is important to do what we can to protect coral reefs. A huge favor you can do for the ocean is to avoid these nasty chemicals and switch to a reef-safe sunscreen.

We have put together a list of our top 11 reef-safe sunscreens from different areas of the world, to help you decide which one to go for.

Why are coral reefs so important?

First, let’s look at why coral reefs are so important to us, to marine life, and to the wellbeing of the planet. Here are the main five reasons why we need to protect coral reefs:

1. 25% of all marine species can coral reefs their home. Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.

2. Coral reefs provide jobs for local tour guides, and attract ocean-loving tourists who want to see the beautiful underwater world.

3. Reefs help sharks by providing prey, being a habitat for nurseries, giving them protection from predators, and providing them with cleaning fish.

4. Coral reef organisms are used in medical treatments. These treatments help patients with diseases such as HIV and cancer. Many advancements in the medical fields are being made with help from coral reefs.

5. Coral reefs act as protection for the shore from waves, hurricanes, and tsunamis. This saves many homes from being destroyed, and prevents coastal erosion.

Now we know how important coral reefs are to us and to the planet, we can try to help keep them healthy by switching to a reef-safe sunscreen. Here are our top 11 to choose from:

1.Sun Bum

Sun Bum can be ordered from many places around the world including the US and the UK. They offer reef-safe sunscreens in 30 SPF and 50 SPF, in both a lotion and a spray. These sunscreens are oxybenzone-free and octinoxate-free, and do not contain retinyl, palmitate, parabens, phthalates, or formaldehyde either, so you can be assured you are not subjecting the reef, or your skin, to any nasty chemicals.

2. Tropic Suncare

Non-greasy, reef-safe, and water-resistant… What more could you wish for? Tropic Skincare describes it as "sun protection but not as you know it". Choose from 30 SPF or 50 SPF for full protection, this sun lotion is hydrating and silky, with an invisible finish. Containing natural extracts of green algae, coconut, and aloe vera.This UK based company ships worldwide.

3. Bare Republic

"Mineral protection never felt so light" says Bare Republic. Their reef-safe SPF 30 sunscreen gel-lotion is developed in the USA and contains no chemical actives. Boasting water-resistance and a sheer finish, this sunscreen is naturally scented and completely vegan. They also offer a 50SPF Sport Sunscreen Spray for those who require more protection.

4. Green People Organic Sun

Green People are a UK based company that offers a range of organic, ocean friendly, natural sunscreens. The range includes a 30SPF facial sunscreen, a 30 SPF sunscreen, and a 15 SPF sunscreen with tan accelerator. All of their options are pure and gentle on the skin, and are bursting with over 80% organic ingredients including green tea and rosemary.

5. We Are Feel Good Inc.

We Are Feel Good Inc offer "the best sunscreen under the Australian sun". Sold in recyclable packaging, their range of sunscreens all offer water-resistance for up to four hours, and are free from PABAs, parabens, oxybenzone, and octinoxate. They have a variety of products to choose from including coconut sunscreen, their signature sunscreen, and a Kakadu Plum sunscreen.

6. Beautycounter

The entire Countersun line from Beautycounter is made without oxybenzone or octinoxate. With many options to choose from, including a tinted mineral mist, a sunscreen stick, and sunscreen lotion, this USA based company is passionate about protecting coral reefs, and protecting your skin. Their sunscreens are all water-resistant, lightweight, smooth, and nourishing.


Australian company Surfmud provides natural, non-nano, mineral based, zinc sunscreens that are reef-safe, non-toxic, and water-resistant. Boasting "high protection while avoiding chemical UV filters", Surfmud comes in a lotion and a covering cream for both adults and children.

8. All Good

Whether you are looking for a sunscreen butter, a lip balm with SPF protection, or a sunscreen spray or lotion; All Good has got you covered. They offer products aimed at adults and children that are all reef-friendly and made from mineral ingredients. Water resistant and perfect for all ocean lovers and sunbathers, this USA based company cares about you, and the ocean.

9. Neutrogena®

The Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch broad spectrum SPF30 sunscreen from Neutrogena is made from 100% mineral active hypoallergenic ingredients. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and free of fragrance, dyes, parabens, phthalates, and irritating chemicals. Mild on even the most sensitive skin, this sunscreen feels smooth and comfortable… And is reef-safe!

10. Drunk Elephant

Umbra Sheer by Drunk Elephant "helps aid in the prevention of free radical and oxidative damage" while offering a broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Loaded with potent antioxidants for a more youthful appearance, Umbra Sheer is suitable for all skin types and is also suitable for our precious reefs.

11. Hawaiian Tropic®

Hawaiian Tropic is a well known brand that can be found worldwide. This Mineral Skin Nourishing Milk with SPF 30 is cruelty free and reef-safe. Ultra spreadable, silky smooth, and enriched with Hawaiian-inspired botanicals like kukui nut and coconut for lightweight moisturization. The packaging is also made from 25% recycled materials.

If you would like to learn about coral reefs, check out the SSI Coral Identification Specialty, where you will discover how to recognise different types of coral, so that you can get the most out of your reef dives.