We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Butter Me Up Organics #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Butter Me Up Organics
We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Raw Elements #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Raw Elements
We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by ATTITUDE #zerowastesunscreen
Image by ATTITUDE

13 Zero Waste Sunscreen Brands Protecting Your Skin & Our Planet


Ahhh, summer…. long days, sunshine, and for some worry-warts like us, the ever-present fear of skin cancer.

Thanks to that (totally valid) fear across millions of sunscreen-sporting beach-goers, about 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in the ocean yearly.

This devastates coral reefs, affects the fertility of marine life, and contributes to coral bleaching—not to mention the negative health impact it has on us humans.

Fortunately, the best zero waste sunscreen brands also happen to be reef-safe, and a few are especially sunny too.

Butter Me Up Organics creates an almost entirely organic certified sunscreen in a compostable stick or reusable jar. 

EmpireSquid has beach lovers in mind with a range of plastic free sunscreen alternatives like face sunblock and after-sun spray.

For zero waste sunscreen in the UK, SoSo Sunny caters to those who like liquids with their refillable zero waste sunscreen.

For more on why sustainable sunscreen is the better choice and how we found these brands in the sand, sink to the bottom of the article.

*This post contains affiliate links

1. RAW ELEMENTS

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Raw Elements #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Raw Elements

*Note: We have attempted to confirm this brand’s policies with no response to date 

About Raw Elements Zero Waste Sunscreen USA

Raw Elements Sunbalm is an Environmental Working Group top-rated sunscreen. It’s approved for all ages, skin types, and for daily use.

Aside from providing a broad spectrum SPF 30, this biodegradable and waste free sunscreen contains 95% organic and 100% non-GMO and natural ingredients filled with antioxidants for your skin.

The active sun protection comes from the 23% non-nano zinc oxide, but there’s also sunflower oil, green and black teas, coffee beans, hemp seed oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, vitamin E, rosemary oil extract, and beeswax.

While it isn’t vegan, due to the beeswax, it is Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty free, as well as soy, gluten, and nut-free.

They make a whole ar-ray (get it?) of different kinds, but most of them come in plastic packaging except for this tin pot pictured above and their tinted zero waste sunscreen

About Raw Elements

Raw Elements is a zero waste skin care brand that specializes in plastic free sunscreen.

The company was founded by former beach lifeguard Brian Guadragno who turned his own kitchen into a lab, experimenting to find a safer, more environmental sunscreen for active people.

Raw Elements USA was born.

All products are sourced, made, and sold in the USA. The company is certified by Non-GMO Project, Natural Products Association, Leaping Bunny, and Environmental Working Group.

Aside from making a great product, they’re also passionate about sun safety and environmental education.

We haven’t yet been able to confirm their sourcing policies.

Available: Amazon

2. BUTTER ME UP ORGANICS

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Butter Me Up Organics #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Butter Me Up Organics
About Butter Me Up Organics’ Plastic Free Sunscreen

Butter Me Up Organics believes, “Sunscreen doesn’t need to have all the nasty chemicals in it to be effective!” 

That’s why they’ve created a reef safe and totally plastic free sunscreen that’s suitable for everyone: zero waste babies, kids and adults.

Made of coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, non-nano zinc oxide, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, and beeswax it’s guaranteed to give nourishing, water-resistant protection for those long summer days.

The only ingredient not certified organic is non-GMO grapeseed oil. 

Choose between reusable glass jars or (our favorite) compostable cardboard sticks for your packaging. They also have a thinner sunscreen that comes in a BPA-free plastic squeeze bottle which, while recyclable, is best avoided. 

Plus the jars and tubes are made into a thicker formula to avoid melting in your beach bag. Don’t worry, it still absorbs clear and isn’t difficult to apply. 

About Butter Me Up Organics

Butter Me Up Organics is “a modern day apothecary” that infuses the spirit of ancient holistic healing into distinctly modern products (like yoga mat cleaner). From skincare to home cleaning products, Butter Me Up Organics has many useful items for a non-toxic lifestyle. 

Everything is cruelty free and palm oil-free and most are vegan, the exceptions being their salves, moisturizers, lotion/balms, organic milk soaks, and goat milk bath bombs.

Almost every product comes in zero waste packaging like glass, tin, or paper. Remaining plastic-free may cost a bit more but it’s a cost they’re willing to cover.  

Even still, they find it in their budget to donate to animal welfare causes and organizations fighting California wildfires and leukemia.

Available: Etsy

3. EMPIRESQUID ORGANICS

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Empire Squid #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Empire Squid

*Note: Not vegan by default but can easily be made vegan upon request.

About EmpireSquid’s Zero Waste Sunscreen

EmpireSquid has individually designed some of the best zero waste sunscreen for the face and body.

Their Facial, Zinc Oxide, and Red Raspberry sunscreens are all pretty similar at the ingredient level, but the facial sunscreen is designed to be lighter and easier to rub in with no greasy residue.

Aside from the three options, you can also choose “original” or “extra protection” for each.

“Original” provides an estimated 20-40 SPF and the “Extra Protection” a bit higher, due to a higher non-nano zinc oxide content. However, they clearly state they “have not laboratory tested this sunscreen […] regarding its exact SPF rating”.

All three sunscreens contain non-nano zinc oxide, shea butter (which helps not only provide consistency but also filter the sun) and essential oils, which they will omit upon request.

Note these zero waste sunscreens are not strictly vegan because each contains beeswax, but since they’re handmade to order, they will make you sunscreen without beeswax upon request.

Each product comes in a reusable 8oz glass jar. They also make Sunshade Natural UV inhibitors but these come in plastic spray bottles.

About EmpireSquid Organics

This quirkily-named and family-run brand aims to provide affordable, yet “amazingly wholesome” and responsible zero waste skin care for men, women, and children alike, from organic face moisturizers to zero waste soap.

Everything is handmade to order with about 70% organic ingredients ( that percentage keeps growing) that are purchased through fair trade channels and ethical suppliers.

Each product is all natural, cruelty free, and palm-oil free.  

Vegans, don’t worry; they have a lot of options, too.

Available: Etsy 

4. SURFDURT

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by SurfDurt #zerowastesunscreen
Image by SurfDurt

*Note: This zero waste sunscreen contains sustainable sourced beeswax.

About SurfDurt’s Refillable Zero Waste Sunscreen

SurfDurt is an “extreme adventure sunscreen” made with surfers in mind, who spend more time in the sun and ocean than most, so it better do its part for both.

With a chemical and toxin-free formula that’s effective for 80 minutes of use in the water and an SPF 30 broad-spectrum protection, it certainly ticks the box.

It is cruelty free though not technically vegan as it does contain beeswax sustainably sourced in West Africa from a program vetted by the third-party Koster Keunen agency.

Of this proud partnership they write:

“Sourcing this way makes it affordable to regenerate beehives instead of overharvesting them and this in turn creates a 30% income increase for local farmers who then care for those hives […] It is uplifting both the bee population and the community where this program exists.”

Most of the ingredients, including cocoa butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, carrot seed oil, and raspberry seed oil, are certified organic. The exceptions are the beeswax, and the non nano zinc oxide and iron oxide pigment.

This formula does not contain any added fragrance oils but they do claim it smells like cookies(!).

Their aluminum-lined reusable bamboo pots are so neat and highly reusable, as are the slimmer, metal tins of their travel sizes.

In case you’re up to your ears in reusable containers, you can send back your old container via their refill program to receive 25% off your next order.

This is the first refillable zero waste sunscreen we’ve come across.

About SurfDurt

The Original DurtHeads behind SurfDurt were an unlikely pair: two California girls and their chemist dad from Hawaii. All three were raised with a healthy love for the sun and the ocean, and they needed to find a way to reconcile their love for both.

As exemplified with their beeswax, they source from “the most ethical sources possible” including those that are free from conflict and animal testing. That often means they pay premium prices for these ingredients which also contributes to the slightly higher cost.

A little more money for less negative impact? Worth it.

It’s produced in the USA using 100% solar powered technology.

They also give back to a different non-profit (depending on the color of the product) with every purchase. Their charitable endeavors support everything from coral reef restoration to surf therapy for underserved children of color.

Available: Amazon | SurfDurt

5. ATTITUDE

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by ATTITUDE #zerowastesunscreen
Image by ATTITUDE

*Note: ATTITUDE formulates most products without palm oil or derivates otherwise they use RSPO’s Mass Balanced certified sustainable palm oil.

About ATTITUDE’s Vegan Zero Waste Sunscreen Canada

ATTITUDE is giving some serious (well-deserved) attitude about mainstream sunscreen by creating far better Ecologo Certified™ biodegradable options.

Non-nano zinc oxide blocks harmful UVA and UVB while olive oil and cocoa and shea butters ensure your skin stays hydrated.

One option still comes in the plastic tube, but the rest of their various sunscreen sticks for sensitive skin, babies and kids, and faces—come in a compostable cardboard tube.

All are SPF 30, unscented, hypoallergenic, and free of parabens, endocrine disruptors, PEGs, oxybenzone, and other reef bleaching chemicals.

While the presence of some synthetic ingredients means they’re not 100% natural, all ingredients are EWG Skin Deep Verified™ as safe and non-toxic.

About ATTITUDE

Far more than a sustainable sunscreen brand from Canada, ATTITUDE offers a massive range of bath & beauty, mom & baby, and home care products.

As a member of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, they’re cruelty free and vegan, helping fulfill their promise of “better products for a better tomorrow”.

They prefer to use no palm oil, but since this is not always possible, they will sometimes use Mass Balance sustainable palm that’s RPSO certified.

Products are manufactured at an eco friendly smart factory that promotes worker wellness and they source from channels without child labor or conflict mineral concerns.

While not a fully zero waste company, any plastic bottles they use are #2 plastic, one of the most widely recyclable types of plastic.

For every product purchased they plant a tree through either Eden Reforestation and One Tree Planted.

Available: ATTITUDE

6. SUNTRIBE

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Suntribe Sunscreen #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Suntribe Sunscreen

*Note: The Mineral Day Cream sunscreen is vegan but the others contain organic beeswax

About Suntribe’s SPF 30 Zero Waste Sunscreen

And here is a zero waste and plastic free sunscreen for our UK readers.

Suntribe makes “worry free” organic sunscreens designed in collaboration with surfers to be extremely water and sweat-resistant. Plus, the fully recyclable aluminum tubes and tins will prevent a mess in your beach bag.

All sunscreens are made with uncoated, non-irradiated, and non-nano zinc oxide, which is the absolute purest and most non-toxic form of this mineral.

Suntribe sunscreens are then laboratory tested to verify their SPF 30 rating and broad-spectrum capabilities with the ISO 24443 and 24444 tests, respectively.

Their simple yet effective formula combines zinc with two organic ingredients: beeswax and coconut oil to nourish skin and neutralize free radicals. 

They also make tinted versions and an anti-aging mineral day cream version, which has a total of nine ingredients and can be used either under or as a replacement for foundation.

All formulas are 100% cruelty free and free from synthetic chemicals, preservatives, and perfumes.

Most are not vegan owing to the organic beeswax, except for their Mineral Day Cream.

About Suntribe

This Sweden-based zero waste sunscreen brand is just a few years old, started by outdoor sports enthusiasts Karl, Hampus, and Julia, in order to “contribute to change”.

You won’t find any dangerous chemicals in Suntribe products, which are cruelty free and certified by New Generation Natural Cosmetics.

They’re also palm oil-free and sourced within Europe from accredited suppliers they know personally.

We also love that “Transparency is the Suntribe way” – you can view explanations of the entire production process (development to testing) here.

While not all Suntribe packaging is zero waste, a large percentage is and all labels are printed on 100% recycled paper with eco inks.

Available: Ecco-verde |  Amazon UK | Suntribe

7. BADGER

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Badger #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Badger

*Note: Their plastic free sunscreen appears to have no potential palm oil derivatives but we are confirming policies directly with this brand.

About Badger’s Zero Waste Sunscreen USA

With a whopping 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance, Badger’s clear zinc sport sunscreen is made for those who like to play hard.

Each biodegradable formula is free of phthalates, parabens, BPA, gluten, synthetics, fragrances, and GMOs.

In fact, it has only four ingredients: uncoated zinc oxide, organic sunflower oil, organic Beeswax, and sunflower vitamin E.

They’re also Oregon Tilth certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 standard as containing organic ingredients and Protect Land + Sea certified.

These SPF 40 and 50 sunscreens come in recyclable and reusable aluminum tins. Though they offer many more sunscreen varieties, much of which are still packaged in plastic tubes.

About Badger

Who would have thought you could get zero waste shaving cream and sport sunscreen from the same place?

Family-owned Badger is all about making simple, sustainable, and effective versions of common (and not-so-common) skin care products.

They’re a Certified B Corp, Leaping Bunny cruelty free, and manufactured in the USA, zero waste sunscreen included.

Giving generous benefits to workers as well as 10% of pre-tax profits to charity shows Badger believes in corporate responsibility on all fronts.

Available: EarthHero

8. SOSO SUNNY

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by SoSo Sunny #zerowastesunscreen
Image by SoSo Sunny
About SoSo Sunny’s Vegan Zero Waste Sunscreen UK

SoSo Sunny will have your beach days feeling just that thanks to their “reef safe and refillable” SPF 50 sunscreen.

It’s broad-spectrum and made with 100% natural and non-reef-bleaching ingredients.

In addition to sun-stopping zinc oxide, ingredients like aloe vera and cocoa seed butter also promote dermis nourishment and hydration.

When you run out, order a refill which will come in a biodegradable FSC-certified (and soon recycled) cardboard envelope. Yes, that’s right…liquid refills by mail.

The liquid-safe film lining will biodegrade in around 32 weeks in home composters.

About SoSo Sunny

Think of SoSo Sunny as plastic free sunscreen UK specialists. It’s all they offer, but that’s why they do it so well.

While not officially certified, they’re cruelty free and PETA-approved vegan.

They’ve confirmed with us that no ingredients are derived from palm oil and they only source raw materials from long-term and reputable ethical European and American companies.

Available: SoSo Sunny

9. SUNBUTTER

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Sunbutter #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Sunbutter

*Note: One of SunButter’s suppliers for one ingredient no longer guarantees certain ingredients to be palm oil free. They are searching for a new supplier. Only their Hand Made Surf Zinc contains locally sourced beeswax; the rest are vegan.

About SunButter’s SPF 50 Vegan Plastic Free Sunscreen Australia

Here’s one for our Australian zero waste sunscreen seekers.

SunButter was one of the first to offer a natural SPF 50 zero waste sunscreen that’s broad-spectrum and cruelty free.

They do ship to China but since they fulfill online orders only, Chinese law does not mandate animal testing on their products.

Because the base of the formulation is candelilla wax and castor and coconut oils rather than water, it lasts longer than traditional sunscreens – up to four hours. These oils also help moisturize your skin while being exposed to drying salt water and sun.

The sun protective power comes from non-nano zinc oxide. 

This and all other ingredients are approved by No Sunspheres as nano particle-free and the Therapeutic Goods Administration as safe for sensitive skin and children. 

For a tone-matched tint to your SPF, you can try their Surf Zinc, available in three different skin tones.

The SPF 50 sunscreen is vegan but the surf zinc contains beeswax locally sourced from a small-scale beekeeper.

About SunButter

Australian company SunButter is acutely aware of the importance of protecting your skin from the sun. Because, Australia.

They make all products locally with respect to the “Traditional Custodians of the land throughout Australia and […] Elders past, present and emerging.”

They ship globally but offset these emissions to make them a carbon-neutral business (on top of their solar-powered factory).

As a fellow 1% for the Planet member, they donate 10% of their profits to various environmental charities and are involved in environmental activism, like Save Westernport.

SunButter is also totally plastic-free (down to compostable shipping parcels) and they even have a social media campaign for extra incentive to reuse their tin containers.

Just snap a pic of however you opt to reuse your tin, post the photo with the tag #spreadthebutterfurther, and get featured!

AU residents can also send back their empties for a refill.

Available: Biome (AU) 

10. ALL GOOD

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by All Good#zerowastesunscreen
Image by All Good

*Note: These sunscreens contain sustainably sourced beeswax. See below for their stance on palm oil.

About All Good‘s Sustainable Sunscreen

Here’s the only other company we found making zero waste SPF 50 sunscreen.

Available in either regular white or tinted versions, All Good sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection and water resistance for a full 80 minutes.

Unlike so many other sunscreens, this unscented bar bears a hard consistency, which is why it fits so well in a compact tin pot.

All Good sunscreens are suitable for sensitive skin types.

It’s made of just six certified reef-safe ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide, organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic calendula flowers infused in organic jojoba oil, and vitamin E.

While not vegan, the beeswax is sourced from a fellow B-Corp that treats its bees ethically and sustainably.

About All Good

All Good actually has seeds all the way back in 1997, when founder Caroline created the very first All Good Goop, a healing salve made with nature’s finest ingredients.

After receiving amazing feedback from friends, she went big. The rest is history.

Over two decades later, their offers have expanded to include even more healing salves and sprays, lip balms, deodorants, lotion, and coconut oil. Still, they maintain small-business vibes and a “vision to inspire others to live in balance with nature, as it should be”. 

They’re not only a woman-owned certified B-Corp, but Leaping Bunny and PETA certified cruelty free (they don’t sell into China), Green America approved, and a member of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Members of 1% for the Planet, 1% of their profits are donated to either Save our Snow and United Plant Savers.

All their products are certified by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, which ensures they meet either USDA’s or NSF’s body care-specific organic standards. They source only non-GMO ingredients from suppliers that deal in fairly traded goods.

While they do not use palm oil directly, they could not confirm if their ingredients are free of all derivates: “If palm oil extracts or derivatives are ever used in our products, it would be palm oil in alignment with Palm Done Right standards.”

The Morro Bay Community Center kitchen, which serves as their production facility, is solar-powered.

While not all containers are zero waste, they minimize packaging waste as much as possible by using recycled and recyclable shipping products (including the labels). 

They write, “We recognize we have a long way to go here, and we will not ever stop looking for better packaging solutions.”

They currently use plastic-free shipping materials and use much post-consumer-recycled plastics as possible (65% currently) in their tubes.

Available: EarthHero

11. HERBAL CHEST

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Herbal Chest #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Herbal Chest
Herbal Chest’s Zero Waste Vegan Sunscreen

If you have extra sensitive skin, so much so that it rejects coconut oil, try Herbal Chest’s Green Tea Sun Butter. 

Not only is this vegan sunscreen coconut oil-free, but also free from parabens, synthetic dyes, fragrances, animal byproducts, and gluten.

It combines the moisturizing powers of shea butter with the sun-blocking power of non-nano zinc oxide and red raspberry oil (with a cumulative SPF 25). 

What’s more, they’ve added in antioxidant-rich ingredients like green tea-infused olive oil and elderflower-infused grapeseed oil, to add some serious restorative powers.

About Herbal Chest

Herbal Chest started small as the passion project of a Pacific-Northwest mama looking for better products for the family. 

Botanical-based and cruelty free, this brand goes beyond skin-deep beauty but rather aims to promote “self-care and wellness”. 

They are palm oil-free and prioritize organic ingredients or those still grown without chemicals if not certified.

Everything comes in zero waste packaging, such as the compostable cardboard tubes for their lip balms and tiny glass jars with metal lids that house just about everything else.

Available: Etsy

12. BEE YOU ORGANICS

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Bee You Organics #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Bee You Organics

*Note: Many of this brands products are not suitable for vegans but there are vegan options available, including for sunscreen.

About Bee You Organics’ Plastic Free Sunscreen

Bee You Organics’ broad-spectrum zero waste sunscreen not only has cult following rave-type reviews on Etsy, but is also made with entirely USDA-certified organic ingredients.

These include unrefined Shea butter, beeswax or carnauba wax, unrefined coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and sunflower oil.

They make both zero waste vegan and non-vegan sunscreen, meaning you’ll either get beeswax or Carnauba wax as the waterproofing agent. Note that Carnauba wax is not quite as effective at waterproofing and will simply need to be reapplied a bit more often.

For something a little bit lighter for the face, they also make sun protective Organic BB Cream.

You can also opt for added lavender and tea tree oils to give your sustainable sunscreen bug repellant properties. 

They come in either reusable tins or compostable paperboard push-up tubes. They even offer a “no-label” option to reduce further waste.

About Bee You Organics

In the lush natural forests of the US’s Pacific Northwest, Bee You’s founder Larissa creates soothing skincare and cosmetics.

With holistic roots, Larissa is meticulous about each ingredient’s purpose.

Ingredients are all-natural (and almost all organic), ethically sourced, non-GMO, cruelty free, alcohol-free, palm oil-free (including derivatives), and preservative-free.

Some products contain non-vegan emu oil and beeswax but they offer plenty of vegan options and support ethical beekeeping by donating to WSU bee research projects.

Bee You Organics supports small business and local charities, and are beginning to employ economically disadvantaged women as they grow and need more hands-on deck.

Available: Etsy  

13. DIRTY HIPPIE COSMETICS

We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Image by Dirty Hippie Cosmetics #zerowastesunscreen
Image by Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

*Note: Dirty Hippie has confirmed that one of their suppliers no longer guarantees certain ingredients to be palm oil free. This does not pertain to their sunscreens but see below for products it does affect.

About Dirty Hippie’s Vegan Sustainable Sunscreen 

Dirty Hippie’s Coconut Sunscreen Balm is a broad spectrum, sustainable, and SPF 30+ balm that you can purchase in either a compostable cardboard tube, compostable sample pot, or reusable tin pot (your choice).

The base is non-micronized zinc oxide and raspberry seed, which has natural sun protective properties.

Best yet, its low concentration of essentials oils (or 0% concentration if requested) is especially great for those with sensitive skin.

In addition to this regular “sensitive skin” formula, you can also purchase a bug repellant balm for two products in one.

About Dirty Hippie Cosmetics

We hope we’re not sounding like a broken record by mentioning this wholesome company yet again.

But seriously, they make many wonderful products and donate considerably to various charities, from The Stroke Foundation (their current charity of choice) to animal rescue organizations.

Aside from sunscreen, Dirty Hippie makes tons of organic zero waste makeup, skincare, and hair care products.  

Their entire handmade range is also cruelty free, vegan, and will soon be entirely palm oil-free again once they find a new supplier for some of their ingredients.

Each item is packaged in compostable recycled cardboard tubes or reusable tin and glass, with vegetable ink labels.

Appropriately, this 50% carbon offset zero waste brand is based in an entirely zero waste community. At their headquarters in Bywong, Australia they use materials at their disposal, from naturally collected rainwater to a totally solar-powered headquarters.  

They grow many of their own ingredients locally and only purchase externally (and definitely certified Fair Trade) where necessary.

If shopping for other Dirty Hippie products, please note their Olive and Coconut oils (aka Cetearyl and Sorbitan olivate, respectively) suppliers no longer guarantee they are palm oil-free.

Dirty Hippie is in the process of moving to a 100% Palm Oil Free supplier, but for now, this impacts their vegan concealers, Hydrating Hempseed and Red Raspberry Facial Primer moisturizing creams, mascaras, and eyeliners.

Available: Etsy  

WHY CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE SUNSCREEN?

Traditional sunscreens are filled with all sorts of chemicals you can’t pronounce (like methylisothiazolinone, aka the American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “allergen of the year”).

These chemicals block the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D (a deficiency that can, ironically, eventually lead to cancer), as well as disrupt your body’s hormone and endocrine systems, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Natural and zero waste sunscreen is a safer alternative for you and the planet, but let’s break it down a little more.

Here are a few terms you might encounter in this article and an overview of what they mean.

  • Nanoparticles: Just like you don’t want to breathe in particles, your skin doesn’t want to absorb them. Nanoparticles are particularly crafty because they can pass the skin barrier and causes cytotoxicity (i.e. toxic to cells). Look out for nano zinc oxide and nano titanium dioxide.
  • Free Radicals: The skin cancer-causing derivative of nanoparticles if they pass the skin barrier. That’s right: traditional sunscreen itself can actually cause skin cancer! Research is still being done on this, but both the EU and New Zealand have in place strict regulations around nano-particle-containing beauty products.
  • UVA: Part of the non-visible light spectrum released by the sun that is 95% of the UV spectrum our skin experiences. It’s even present on cloudy days when you don’t “feel the burn” but still damages and wrinkles your skin and causes skin cancer. It even penetrates glass!
  • UVB: The part of the sun that is most damaging to the skin, causing sunburn and discoloration. Generally, these types of rays are present in sunnier or reflective conditions.
  • Broad Spectrum: This just means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. As such, it’s ideal your sunscreen is labeled as broad-spectrum.
  • SPF: This stands for “sun protective factor”. It basically indicates the amount of time it protects your skin from the sun. This time, of course, varies based on UV index (or strength of the UV rays) and your natural melanin levels (i.e. skin tone) so play it conservative

What about non-nano zinc oxide?

The best “active ingredient” (which is to say U.V. blocking ingredient) alternative to those toxic, unpronounceables is zinc oxide. More specifically, as mentioned above, non nano zinc oxide. 

But it actually goes even deeper than that. Non-nanoparticle zinc oxide was a non-negotiable criterion for us in creating this list, but we favor brands that go above and beyond that and use uncoated, non-irradiated, and non-nano zinc oxide.

This is zinc oxide in its purest form, the closest in which it is found in nature.

Uncoated zinc oxide is extremely photostable, so it won’t break down as easily when exposed to UV light. This breaking down is what causes the release of free radicals.

Free radicals, as mentioned above, cause skin damage and even promote skin cancer. 

According to all the latest research, this is the most stable and safe form of zinc oxide. While free radicals can still form, it also helps trap them at the skin’s surface, keeping them from getting at the deeper, living tissues


HOW WE FOUND THE BEST ZERO WASTE SUNSCREEN

If this is your first time visiting Sustainable Jungle, we search for products using our beauty & personal care criteria.

We want things to be:

  • Vegan: Beeswax is sometimes an exception but we avoid other common animal byproducts in sunscreen.
  • Cruelty free
  • Non-toxic: Avoiding reef damaging chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, PABA, and triclosan is of the utmost importance to preserve marine ecosystems
  • Palm oil-free
  • Ethical ingredient sourcing
  • Zero waste packaging: Meaning either compostable or reusable glass or tin containers – NO plastic, unless it’s returnable.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON PLASTIC FREE SUNSCREEN

While completely covering up is really the only way to escape UV rays, there’s no summer fun in that!

Why not show some skin with a little zero waste sunscreen protection.

By opting for one of these sunscreens, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re protecting your skin and the environment. So go out and eco-consciously catch some rays.

We hope we’ve been able to shed some (sun)light on sustainable sunscreen brands protecting you and the planet.


We’ve talked about reef-safe vegan sunscreen before, but this time we’re taking it a step further and looking for the best zero waste sunscreen. After all, plastic bottles aren’t good for the sea either. Photo by Stanley Dai on Unsplash #zerowastesunscreen

6 thoughts on “13 Zero Waste Sunscreen Brands Protecting Your Skin & Our Planet”

  1. Thank you for the great recommendations. It’s very effective to link your articles that share companies and/or ingredients, so keep it up!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this informative article. Would you recommend some of these brands over others for use on my face as my daily sunscreen?

    Reply
  3. I am also in the beginning of my sustainability journey and where I often find myself making compromises is with my young kids (currently 2 years old and 6 months old). Having struggled to put a cream sunscreen on my toddler last year, I was hoping to find a spray sunscreen to deal with the incredible feat of putting sunscreen on the two of them quickly with no tantrums. I know most available sprays have all kinds of waste in packaging but were there any you came across that had zero waste sprays? While I’d love to adhere to all the sustainable criteria in your article I’m ok with compromising for non-vegan etc. if, at least until they’re a little older, I can get a spray sunscreen. Any options come up in your research for this list you could share? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Ellen, totally understand – we have to make compromises all the time, it’s very hard to be perfect when the products we need just don’t exist yet. Unfortunately we haven’t found any sprays in our searches but admittedly we weren’t looking for them so they do potentially exist. We update these articles every so often so will keep a look out on the next run. Realise that doesn’t help you in the short term! Hope you’re able to find something that you’re comfortable with (and let us know if you do!) but if you don’t, let your favourite brands know you want to see these products in the marketplace and in the meantime, don’t feel bad about consuming a little plastic. You are clearly super consious about what you buy and will continue to make the best choices possible based on what’s available 🙂

      Reply
  4. Thank you so much for writing these articles. As someone who is starting to make an effort in sustainable living, these are so informative and well thought out. I really appreciate the work that you’re doing to spread awareness through these lesser-known brands–I’ve already bought from a few of them and had no idea they existed before reading your articles. You’re the best! -Ava

    Reply

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