A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article on the nasties in sunscreen and which sunscreens you shouldn’t be using. And as helpful as it is to know which sunscreens to avoid, it begs the question – what sunscreen should I use? What sunscreen is best for my skin? How can I save my skin and not kill the coral reef?
Well, I’m not sure you thought about that last question, but marine ecosystems are important to us, so while I give you some great options for suncare that’s good for you, I’m also going to fulfil my own agenda and save your holiday wildlife at the same time. No debates. It’s happening. Don’t care about the environment? Go elsewhere.
Word of the wise – just because your fave brand of sunscreen is on this list, doesn’t mean it’s automatically skin/reef-safe. I love Sun Bum, but only their mineral sunscreen is safe for coral health.
You’ll notice there are ZERO sprays on this list, because spray sunscreens are the main offenders for benzene contagions – and also you’re more likely to inhale some chemicals that absolutely should not be inside your body!
Everybody wants to stay sun-safe, but at the cost of dreadful oxybenzone? Which bleaches all that lovely bright coral you flew all the way to the Gold Coast to see? No thank you!
I have painstakingly gone through every ingredient on the below sunscreens list – so I know these are the good ‘uns. Can’t part with your favourite sunblock, but aren’t sure about potential nasties? Check the ingredients list. If it has oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate or avobenzone… I’m sorry babes, but it’s a no-no.
Emma Lewisham Skin Shield Broad Spectrum SPF30 Sunscreen
Emma Lewisham is a kiwi brand that is making waves across the beauty industry. Although her Skin Shield Sunscreen isn’t branded as reef-safe, there is no globally-recognized certificate for reef-safe sunscreen (so you should always read the ingredients!) Thankfully, as I said before, I’ve read the ingredients for each of these sunscreens, and Emma Lewisham’s hits all our standards. None of the nasties, and uses zinc oxide like the rest of our goody-two-shoes mineral sunblocks. In Emma’s Sustainability Strategy, her 2021 goal is to have her sunscreens marketed as reef-safe, even though as far as we know, they are already.
It does have a fragrance so beware around the hairline, but it’s naturally derived (like all of Emma Lewisham’s skincare) so you don’t need to worry too much.
Not a pore-clogger, it’s also moisturizing, and – BIG PLUS – has compostable packaging!
Versed Guards Up SPF 35
Versed Guards Up sunscreen claims to protect you from the 3 main blights for your skin – environmental pollution, electronic pollution (from our day spent looking at a big screen, only to go to bed and look at our smaller screens), and the sun. Filled with antioxidants to fight aging (also caused by the sun), Versed SPF endeavours to guard your skin on all fronts. Invisible, vegan, and cruelty-free, this mineral sunscreen also comes in a squeezy tube made of 79% post-consumer recycled plastic. Skin-shielding and environmentally-friendly? I’ll take 5.
Sun Bum Mineral SPF50 Sunscreen Lotion
I have always been a big fan of Sun Bum, even using their 3-in-1 leave-conditioner, and I always used to have a bottle of the SPF50 whenever I went on holiday. Sadly, their normal sunscreen is harmful to the delicate marine ecosystems… Luckily, they make a mineral version! It has the same iconic Sun Bum fragrance (so beware on the face for potential skin reaction for the super-sensitivos) but it’s water resistant up to 80 minutes, hypoallergenic, reef-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free for our hard-core celiacs. Boom, smells like summer.
Supergoop! Mineral Sheerscreen SPF30
Supergoop!’s mineral sheerscreen has a great satin finish, which means it’s perfect to prep your makeup. Since we should be using sunscreen every day (including cloudy days and days inside – you can get burned through the window too!), it’s a great reminder to apply at the end of your morning skin care routine – right before you put on your foundation. 100% mineral, reef safe, and cruelty free… what’s not to like?
La Roche Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid SPF0+
Usually my go-to sunscreen, I favour La Roche Posay because it’s non-comedogenic, and perfect for sensitive skin. It is a chemical sunscreen, but it’s fragrance free and formulated for people with reactive skin like mine, which means that even though it permeates your skin layers, it’s designed to avoid irritation. This sunscreen is great because it goes on clear, unlike some sunscreens which leave you with a white cast. Luckily for me, both of the primary sun filters in La Roche Posay’s Anthelios range were extensively tested for environmental harm, and neither induced coral bleaching. Phew!
But beware! One of La Roche Posay’s spray sunscreens did contain benzene, so it’s best to go for the lotion.
Ultra Violette Clean Screen SPF30 Skinscreen
Described as the Harry Styles of SPF, I was sold before I even read the ingredients. Luckily he’s oxybenzone free, and instead has a clean filter with a very long name called “Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate” which biodegrades well and is not harmful to the environment.
Harry SPF Styles is also fragrance free and made for acne-prone skin for the sensitive among us. A cult product that ticks all the boxes? Yes please.
Elta MD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47
The daily sunscreen most commonly recommended by dermatologists, Elta MD is renowned for a reason. The formula is designed to be gentle on sensitive skin, and is also recommended for kids (so you know it’s made with the gentlest protection in mind). A mineral sunscreen, the zinc oxide is transparent, and you can apply it on wet or dry skin – so perfect for a long beach day! It’s waterproof but oil free, and non-comedogenic, so it’s not going to clog your pores and leave you with unwanted pimples on your holiday. Loved by Chrissy Rutherford, a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar, this sunscreen also comes in a tinted version if you want a little bit more makeup coverage!