The stark reality is that your choices are crucial for the protection of our oceans and reefs. When most people think of ocean pollution, they refer to plastic waste that finds its way into our seas and oceans, overlooking the estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen which enter the world’s reefs annually, according to the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
Fortunately, it is possible to protect your skin without destroying marine life and polluting our waters, so whether you are searching for sunscreen without health-harming chemicals or advocate for the environment at large, keep reading and find our selection of great ocean-friendly and reef-safe sunscreens.
NANOTISED VS. NON-NANO
Wondering whether you should be avoiding physical, mineral or chemical SPFs? I would go for mineral every time but the main concern should be the size of the particles within the formulations.
The vast majority of SPFs are formulated with nanotised particles (meaning they’re less than 100 nanometres) whereas “non-nano” means the particles are larger than 100 nanometres. But what’s so important about nanotised or “non-nano” particles? Nanoparticles tend to break down and dissolve in the ocean where they can be toxic to marine life, non- nanoparticles sink and become part of ocean sediment, posing less risk to marine life.
Nanoparticles can also cause allergic reactions in humans and it is still unclear if these formulations end up in the bloodstream -yikes!
REN CLEAN SCREEN MINERAL SPF 30
Mattifying face sunscreen free of silicone. A nice consistency with ample protection without feeling heavy. Works well under make-up too. Our tester struggles with sunscreens anywhere near her sensitive eyes but had no issues with this REN screen. Cruelty-free and vegan with the added plus of the recyclable tube.
BADGER CLEAR ZINC SUN- SCREEN SPF 30
Lightweight and moisturizing with no added fragrance. This organic fluid starts out white but rubs in clear - leaving no white residue which can be an issue with mineral screens. Our tester noted that her sensitive, break- out prone skin stayed calm and clear even after consecutive days of usage. Best suited for dry skin.
PAI SKINCARE BRITISH SUMMER TIME SENSITIVE SUNSCREEN SPF 30
Pricy but great for sensitive and eczema prone skin. The consistency is similar to a light day cream and it rubs in clear. The super ingredients are certified natural, cruelty-free and vegan.
AVENE MINERAL FLUID SPF 50+
Our pick for utter and complete sun protection. This formula is too heavy for daily use but it is superb for days at the beach. Very water-resistant and not a trace of sunburn, even after forgetting to reapply after swimming (not recommended!). We prefer the clear formula as opposed to the tint, which seemed too dark on fair skin.
For people who prefer fuller coverage, Colorscience offers a range of options from foundations to powders to sun sticks - all reef-safe and free of nasty chemicals.