9 Biodegradable Sunscreen Brands For Reef Safe Beach Vacation
Didn’t your mom tell you, “Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!”?!
A valuable rule to live by, but one usually followed at a cost.
Regular sunscreens wreak havoc on coral reefs, marine life, and sensitive aquatic ecosystems. Lest we forget their effect on human health—disrupting hormone function, vitamin absorption, and more.
And with 4,000–6,000 tons ending up in the ocean each year, it’s about time we made a change.
That’s where biodegradable sunscreen brands step in to save our skins and the coral reefs.
Everything we recommend to you on Sustainable Jungle is independently researched and we ask all brands to confirm their claims. To avoid waste, we test products on an as needed basis. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about why we do this here.
The Top Biodegradable Sunscreens For A Sustainable Sun-Kissed Glow
ATTITUDE’s SPF 30 mineral sunscreen is serving up serious ‘tude with its natural ingredients, broad-spectrum protection, and thoughtful packaging.
Stay safe FORAH whole day with a formula packed with powerful antioxidants, soothing oils, and collagen-boosting ingredients without any of the stuff you don’t want. Did we mention it smells great?
Activist’s Tinted Mineral Sunscreen makes us want to stand up and march for better, clean beauty standards…or you know, relax by (or in) the pool because its water resistant properties are top notch.
Still wondering, “What are biodegradable sunscreens?” Dive into the deep end of the article for more information on how we found these brands.
*Note: FORAH sunscreens contain beeswax.
FORAH’s Reef Safe Facial Sunscreen
We’ve tried a lot of different biodegradable sunscreens and let’s just say we’re all for a purchase from FORAH after trying it.
Offering both a tinted sunscreen tin and a standard sunscreen cream in a recyclable aluminum tube, they give you all sun protection you’re used to—with none of the waste.
The tinted Zinc Surf Balm contains a simple combination of non-nano zinc oxide, virgin coconut oil, cacao powder, and beewax.
The Everyday liquid sunscreen, on the other hand, contains a more complex formula specially designed to sooth and moisturize the skin. It includes organic cold-pressed golden jojoba oil, organic sea buckthorn oil, seaweed extract, and biodynamic avocado oil
Plus, thanks to the touch of organic sweet almost oil, we can’t get enough of how good it smells while we’re wearing it.
All of FORAH’s biodegradable sunscreens are certified organic, cruelty-free, and non-GMO.
Because they’re based in Canada, there are more rigorous and quality practices when it comes to non-toxic skincare development.
None of the products contain gluten, harmful chemicals, parabens, synthetic fragrances, microplastics, phthalates, petrochemicals, or dyes, either.
FORAH is another member of 1% for the Planet, giving back to several organizations for each product purchased.
Activist’s Reef Safe & Biodegradable Sunscreen
Activist’s Avasol line of Zinc Mineral Sun Cream takes a stand against things like parabens, nanoparticles, GMOs, and other synthetic chemicals.
Because they come in a range of tints and contain nourishing ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil, they double as organic tinted moisturizer.
If you’re not certain which shade is best suited to you, you can request samples like they sent to us to find your perfect match.
We love this water-resistant sunscreen for that fact that it’s tinted and provides fuller coverage than most sunscreens.
As such, we’ve found the sun cream in particular it doubles as a foundation, making it perfect for those sunny situations when you always want to look your best—like an outdoor wedding!
Plus, it comes in a lightweight refill pouch that, while made of plastic, yields a super light shipping footprint.
It also works perfectly well on the body, with roughly 80 minutes of broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
The California-based brand is woman-owned, offering refillable, vegan, and cruelty-free organic skincare, like natural makeup remover.
Many products come shipped in glass containers, compostable materials, or recyclable refill pouches. The shipping materials are low-impact, recyclable, and or compostable and created using post-consumer waste.
Like many other brands on our list, Activist is a member of 1% For the Planet, donating upwards of 5% of revenue to various organizations, like Outdoor Afro.
*Note: ATTITUDE’s sunscreens are mostly formulated without palm oil or derivatives, otherwise they use RSPO’s Mass Balanced certified sustainable palm oil. Some are zero waste but not all.
ATTITUDE’s Eco-Friendly Biodegradable Sunscreen SPF 30
ATTITUDE gives normal sunscreens the side-eye by crafting high-quality reef safe biodegradable sunscreen alternatives.
The mineral-based sunscreens contain non-nano zinc oxide, which protects against harmful UV rays, according to EWG experts.
Other natural ingredients, like coconut oil, shea butter, and organic sunflower oil, help keep the skin moisturized in dehydrating summer conditions.
ATTITUDE’s hypoallergenic and reef safe sunscreens are suitable for all skin types, including options for damaged, oil, and sensitive skin.
The Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunblock Stick comes unscented, offering broad spectrum protection, and soothes dry skin with oat extract.
Skin irritation aside, they’re also free of PEGs, parabens, endocrine disruptors, oxybenzone, or other coral bleaching agents.
ATTITUDE’s catalog doesn’t contain 100% natural products, as there are a few synthetic compounds, but all the reef safe compounds are verified by EWG Skin Deep.
Some of the brand’s products come in plastic tubes, but most of the zero waste sunscreen catalog is packaged neatly in stylish compostable cardboard tubes.
The Canada-based brand has a wide range of products for your bath, beauty, home care, and mom or baby needs.
As part of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, ATTITUDE doesn’t test any products on animals and is completely vegan.
Although some products contain palm oil, ATTITUDE opts for RSPO-certified Mass Balance sustainable palm oil.
Items come from a responsible factory, ensuring worker well-being without any forced child workers or conflict mineral issues.
ATTITUDE isn’t wholly zero waste, but they use the #2 type of plastic, which is easily recyclable.
4. Butter Me Up Organics
*Note: Butter Me Up Organics’ biodegradable sustainable sunscreen contains beeswax.
Butter Me Up Organics’ Biodegradable Sunscreen
Butter Me Up Organics stands by the belief that sunscreen doesn’t need harmful chemicals to be effective.
Instead, they developed some of the best reef safe sunscreens that are entirely plastic-free and suited for babies, kids, and adults.
The reef safe sunscreen ingredients include coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, non-nano zinc oxide, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, and beeswax. These ingredients work together to form a water-resistant formula that is perfect for the summer heat.
The mineral based sunscreen can come with or without beeswax. The mineral formula is almost 100% certified organic, minus the non-GMO rapeseed oil and zinc oxide.
Butter Me Up offers reusable glass containers or compostable cardboard tubes for packaging. One option includes a recyclable plastic BPA-free tube, but we prefer the other options for obvious reasons.
We’ve tested both the tube and glass jar of their Organic Sunscreen.
It’s completely unscented and goes on light and smooth, with no real texture differences between the cream and stick. We keep the cream at home to apply before going out and the tube with us for replication.
Plus we love that both only contain six simple ingredients.
About Butter Me Up Organics
Butter Me Up Organics is a unique shop that combines traditional holistic healing techniques with modern necessities, like organic pomade.
Besides biodegradable sun protection, you can find organic face balms, conditioners, home cleaning supplies, non-toxic deodorant, toothpaste, skincare, and more.
All are cruelty-free without any animal testing.
Only a few of their products contain palm oil, like bath bombs, salves, and moisturizers.
Most of their products come in packaging that is good for the environment, such as glass, tin, or compostable cardboard.
Despite the extra cost, they still manage to contribute to causes that support animal welfare and organizations that are fighting wildfires in California and leukemia.
*Note: SurfDurt uses ethically sourced beeswax from restoratively farmed sourced.
SurfDurt’s Biodegradable Sunscreen Reef Safe
Hitting the beaches of Cancún to catch some waves?
SurfDurt makes “extreme adventure sunscreen” with surfers in mind. Whether it’s biodegradable sunscreen for Mexico, Costa Rica, or California, their formula is designed to last.
SurfDurt doesn’t use chemical ingredients, prioritizing ingredients like beeswax for an effective SPF 30 solution lasting 80 minutes in the water.
This means the lotion isn’t vegan, but the beeswax is sustainably sourced from West Africa, vetted by a third-party agency, Koster Keunen.
Many of the organic ingredients are certified, including cocoa butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, carrot seed oil, and raspberry seed oil. They don’t use certified organic beeswax, non-nano zinc, and iron oxide pigments, however.
The ultra-portable Original Sunscreen and other formulas are shipped in aluminum-lined reusable bamboo tins. The aluminum inner lining can be split away from the bamboo and recycled, while the bamboo can be composted.
Two California girls and their chemist father from Hawaii are the Original DurtHeads behind the sunscreen brand. All three of them have a love for warm days by the beach, so they set out to create an ethical, biodegradable sunscreen formula.
SurfDurt uses “the most ethical sources possible” for their beeswax and ingredients that are free from palm oil, conflict, and animal testing.
Each reef-friendly tin is produced in the United States using 100% solar-powered equipment.
6. Palm & Pine
*Note: We are confirming policies directly with this brand.
Palm & Pine’s Biodegradable Sunscreen SPF 50
Palm & Pine will help you watch the palm trees sway by the poolside without forgetting sun protection.
Their reef safe face sunscreen is available in liquid or solid plastic-free bars, both sold in entirely recyclable aluminum materials.
The liquid sunscreen is SPF 30, designed to protect against broad-spectrum UV rays (A and B), without any harmful ingredients.
The solid container comes with an additional SPF 50, but both formulas include zinc oxide with slightly differing natural ingredients.
The liquid variety includes shea butter, echinacea, calendula, and lemon balm.
The recycled alloy tin includes avocado and jojoba oil, iron oxide for color, and vegan sunflower wax for water resistance.
Neither formulas contain harmful chemicals that damage coral reefs, like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Instead, the paraben-free sunscreen is perfect for everyday use, suited for normal, oily skin, and sensitive skin types.
About Palm & Pine
Palm & Pine creators Ross and Sarah sought to design an effective sunscreen after moving to western Portugal.
They named their company Palm & Pine after some of their favorite activities, surfing, snowboarding, sunshine, and hiking.
The founders needed a high-quality product for all this time outside, so they designed a vegan, cruelty-free, and 100% natural formula.
None of the products contain harsh chemicals, UV filters, palm oil, or synthetic fragrances.
7. EmpireSquid Organics
*Note: EmpireSquid’s biodegradable mineral sunscreen contains beeswax.
EmpireSquid’ Organics’ Biodegradable Sunscreen Ingredients
EmpireSquid is more than a quirky name—they develop suntan lotion for the hottest days.
Their Organic Face Sunblock contains natural sun protection ingredients, like red raspberry seed oil, beeswax, and macadamia nut oil. The biodegradable sunblock is ultra-light, so it’s suitable for a plastic-free daily driver.
However, the formula does contain essential oils, meaning it’s not entirely fragrance free.
You can also select “original” 20-40 SPF protection or “extra protection” with a bit more non-nano zinc oxide for additional safety. That said, EmpireSquid can’t confirm the exact SPF rating, as they have not been laboratory tested.
While they don’t have a biodegradable sunscreen spray, per se, they do offer a soothing After Sun Spray with aloe vera and various essential oils in case you get burned at the beach.
About EmpireSquid Organics
EmpireSquid is a family-owned and operated zero waste skin care brand with the goal of creating affordable, effective, and skincare for anyone and everyone.
All products are handmade to order, with around 70% organic ingredients purchased through Fair Trade suppliers.
EmpireSquid’s entire catalog is natural, cruelty-free, and palm oil free.
8. All Good
*Note: These zero waste sunscreens contain beeswax and palm oil, both sustainably sourced.
All Good’s Biodegradable Reef Safe Sunscreen
All Good’s catalog of regular and tinted biodegradable suntan lotion is suited for sensitive skin types and all skin tones.
The SPF 50 Zinc Sun Butter offers broad-spectrum protection from UV rays for upwards of 80 minutes.
The formula doesn’t contain any ingredients leading to coral bleaching, instead using only six certified marine ecosystem-safe ingredients.
The sunblock isn’t vegan, but the beeswax comes from a Certified B Corp that ensures its bees have the best conditions.
Some products are packaged in plastic tubes, pump-action bottles, or aerosol containers, but we suggest choosing their sustainable tin packaging. Not only does it reduce waste, it’s easier to carry around.
About All Good
Woman-owned All Good’s journey began back in 1997 when the owner, Caroline, created the very first product.
Now their product range has grown to include more healing formulas, lip balms, deodorants, and lotions.
As a member of 1% for the Planet, they donate a portion of their revenue to various organizations like United Plant Savers.
Each of the sunscreens, natural lip balms, and other products are Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, meaning they adhere to USDA’s or NSF’s specific standards. All Good doesn’t use any ingredients containing GMOs and only works with fair trade suppliers.
All Good does its best to minimize excess waste by incorporating recycled and recyclable materials whenever possible. This takes shape by using plastic-free shipping and post consumer recycled plastics in some of the products.
By Robin Creations’ Waterproof Biodegradable Sunscreen
By Robin Creations makes some of the best coral reef safe sunscreen, based on over 3,000 five-star reviews alone.
The vegan, waterproof sunscreen is available in SPF 30 and SPF 25 varieties, alongside a solid bar and lotion.
The Sunblock Lotion Bar uses all-natural ingredients, like moisturizing olive oil and rosemary to promote circulation. The candelilla wax and uncoated non-nano zinc allow the formula to be virtually waterproof.
The Sunblock Lotion includes many of the same ingredients but comes in an aluminum squeeze pouch.
Both these 100% cruelty-free and vegan sunscreens are zinc-oxide based and can be purchased as unscented options.
About By Robin Creations
The New Mexico-based brand started with vegan lip balm and deodorant. Now, Robin has a wide range of skincare and beauty products.
Most formulas contain organic oils, plant butter, and essential oils. Excluding shea butter from Ghana, Robin sources the ingredients and jars from local US companies and grows the herbs when possible.
All products are cruelty-free, vegan, palm oil-free, and shipped in plastic-free and recycled materials.
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Why Use Biodegradable Sunscreen?
Non-biodegradable sunscreens are abundant on drugstore shelves and with harsh chemicals, like methylisothiazolinone, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, paraffinum liquidum, and other mouthfuls.
Many of these chemicals prevent the body from absorbing vitamin D and disrupt natural hormones and endocrine systems, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
But what is biodegradable sunscreen and how do you know what sunscreen is biodegradable?
It starts with being free of these harmful compounds, some of which are:
- PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
- Avobenzone (a key active ingredients in conventional sunscreen)
- 4-methyl benzylidene
Biodegradable alternatives don’t contain these ingredients, as they can devastate marine life and sensitive ecosystems. The National Ocean Service states many of these ingredients can build up in coral, inhibit algae growth, damage reproduction in fish and sea urchins, and more.
In response to this environmental disaster, some areas have made it a legal requirement that beach-goers only use reef safe sunscreen, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands included.
And with an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen entering the ocean annually, regular sunscreen can have a massive impact.
With chemicals that are toxic to human health, coral reefs, and marine life, we think the answer to “Why use biodegradable sunscreen?” is self-explanatory.
How We Found The Best Biodegradable Sunscreen Brands
Finding the best biodegradable sunscreen brands is similar to finding a needle in a haystack—or a quarter in the sand.
Is any old sunblock biodegradable? For example, is Neutrogena sunblock biodegradable?
In addition to using the basics of what makes sunscreen biodegradable in our choosing, we considered this (sun protection) factor list:
- Non-toxic: We look out for natural sunscreen sans chemicals that are harmful to marine life like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate, 4-methyl benzylidene camphor, PABA, and triclosan, along with other ingredients to avoid in skincare.
- Vegan and cruelty-free: Although some of the products include beeswax, we avoid any animal byproducts or animal testing.
- Palm oil-free: Because we recognize boycotting palm oil may not be the only solution, we also accept RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil when applicable.
- Ethical ingredient sourcing
- Thoughtful materials: We look for zero waste (i.e. compostable, reusable) or recycled packaging and shipping materials.
Are Reef Safe & Biodegradable The Same?
When shopping for sustainable alternatives, you might ask yourself, “Is reef safe sunscreen biodegradable?” And just what is reef safe sunscreen?
“Reef Safe” refers to products or substances that do not harm marine ecosystems when used or washed off into the ocean.
Reef Safe products are formulated to minimize or eliminate ingredients known to have harmful effects on coral reefs, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. However, they don’t always contain natural ingredients.
“Biodegradable” refers to materials or substances that can break down naturally and decompose into simpler, non-harmful compounds over time.
Biodegradability refers to the ability of a substance to break down over time, while Reef Safe focuses explicitly on the protection of coral reefs and marine ecosystems.
It’s important to note that the term “Reef Safe” is not regulated universally, so it’s advisable to look for products that are certified by reputable organizations.
Is Mineral Sunscreen Biodegradable?
Mineral sunscreens are generally considered to be more biodegradable compared to chemical sunscreens.
Mineral sunscreens primarily use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their active ingredients, which are minerals derived from natural sources. These minerals are known to be biodegradable and do not persist in the environment.
But, not all products are created equally.
Some conventional mineral sunscreens contain additional additives, emollients, or inorganic ingredients affecting their overall biodegradability. It’s always a good idea to check the specific product to understand its biodegradability and environmental impact better.
Final Thoughts On Biodegradable & Reef Safe Sunscreen Brands
No one wants to get burned—not you, the coral reefs, or marine life.
And that’s why swapping to reef safe sunscreen is a must. These products don’t contain ingredients that bleach coral reefs, harm fish reproduction, or cause defects in other marine animals.
Biodegradable sunscreen doesn’t harm your health with toxic, hard-to-pronounce chemicals, either. They keep you safe without a trace.
Know someone who’s ready to hit the beach?
Send them this list of where to buy biodegradable sunscreen, so they can soak up the rays without a care in the world.