When spending time in the sun, it is essential to apply sunscreen, but be mindful of the ingredients in your sunscreen before taking a swim, snorkeling, or doing other water activities. Much of the sunscreen you apply will wash off your skin when it comes into contact with water. Every year, thousands of tons of sunscreen wind up in the waterways surrounding reefs. Numerous studies have found that the chemicals in regular sunscreen may significantly influence the degradation of coral reef health. To avoid contributing to the harm of coral reefs, you can wear reef safe sunscreen. So, what is the best reef safe sunscreen and what should you look for in a reef safe sunscreen?
Avoid Chemical Sunscreens
A good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing a reef safe sunscreen is to simply rule out all chemical sunscreens from the start. A chemical sunscreen works by absorbing into the skin where it then absorbs UV rays before they have a chance to penetrate the skin deep enough to cause damage. They typically contain ingredients like PABA, octinoxate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, parabens, and nanoparticles or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium.
Best Reef Safe Sunscreens
Reef safe sunscreens are going to typically be what is called “physical sunscreens” that do not contain the ingredients listed above. Reef safe sunscreens use ingredients like oxide and zinc oxide to form a physical barrier between the sun and your skin. These are some of the most popular brands of reef safe sunscreen.
Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen
Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen is an excellent choice for outdoor activities. It is a broad spectrum sunscreen that uses non-nano zinc oxide to protect skin from UV rays. Reviews of this formula say it is lightweight and goes on smoothly. As an added bonus, it is vegan! It claims to be water resistant up to 80 minutes, but remember that with physical sunscreens, they aren’t as water-resistant as chemical sunscreens, so you may want to reapply as soon as you get out of the water and dry off.
Badger SPF 30 Active Mineral Sunscreen Cream
Badger SPF 30 Active Mineral Sunscreen Cream is 98% organic and is made from just 5 ingredients, Sunflower Seed Oil, Beeswax, Sunflower Vitamin E, Seabuckthorn Fruit Extract and uncoated Zinc Oxide. This broad spectrum sunscreen is rated for up to 40 minutes on water contact, so you will have to stay on top of reapplying. Many people love that it is also cruelty-free, vegan, non-GMO, made with solar power, and has packaging that is 50% recyclable materials.
BLUE LIZARD SPF 50+ Sheer Face Lotion
If you’re looking for the best reef safe sunscreen specifically for your face, Blue Lizard Sheer Face Lotion is a dermatologist-recommended mineral sunscreen made with non-nano zinc oxide. It dries clear, so you won’t have to worry about having a white cast on your face while out enjoying the sun, sand, and water. It also contains hyaluronic acid, shea butter, vitamin E, and antioxidants for added moisture, making it a great daily sunscreen. As an added bonus, it also claims to contain plant extracts that protect skin from blue light.
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 35
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide and claims to be free from all petrochemicals. In fact, they don’t use chemicals to homogenize the product, so before you apply, you will have to knead the tube to mix it up. Don’t let this deter you, though because this sunscreen is broad spectrum, safe for babies, is non-toxic, fragrance-free and made from only 6 ingredients including non-nano zinc oxide, spring water, beeswax, extra virgin olive oil, vegetable vitamin E, and natural Vitamin D3. Those with sensitive skin may prefer this sunscreen.
Bring Along Your Reef Safe Sunscreen To Turks and Caicos
There are certain tropical destinations that require reef safe sunscreen. As of 2022, Turks and Caicos does not have a ban on certain sunscreen products, but we highly recommend using reef safe sunscreen. Turks and Caicos is home to one of the largest barrier reefs in the world and doing what we can to protect it will ensure that future generations will be able to benefit from its existence and enjoy its beauty. When choosing to book a boat charter tour with Caicos Dream Tours, we ask that you use only reef safe sunscreen to keep our coral reefs beautiful.