When you picture a leisurely day at the beach, that vision probably includes a plastic bottle of sunblock. I know the concept of zero waste sunscreen never occurred to me until I learned more about sustainable travel. Luckily, the eco friendly sunblock trend is gaining steam.
Aside from plastic pollution, most traditional sunscreens are packed full of toxic chemicals that aren’t great for us or the planet–especially marine life.
In fact, several places, including Hawaii, Palau and parts of Mexico, now have laws that require you to use reef-safe sunscreen. Because low impact living is all about reducing our impact on the planet, I’m only recommending products that are also reef-safe.
Whether you’re embarking on some eco friendly travel or looking for everyday protection, these are the best zero waste sunscreen brands for the job.
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Tierra & Lava Turmeric and Vanilla Sunscreen
I absolutely love the zero waste sunblock from this awesome Guatemalan company. It is water and sweat-resistant, feels great on my skin and smells great.
This Tierra & Lava sunscreen is only SPF 15, making it more suited for daily protection (or for people who don’t burn easily).
80% of their materials are sourced from their own organic mountainside garden, and the remaining 20% come from local communities and farms. This direct relationship helps ensure their practices are ethical and eco-friendly.
SurfDurt Original Sunblock
Created by California natives Max and Nikki, along with Max’s surf-loving chemist dad, SurfDurt is designed for those who spend as much time in the sun as they do.
Nothing but organic ingredients are in this eco friendly sunblock. They use sustainably sourced beeswax and everything is cruelty-free.
A portion of all proceeds are donated to a handful of organizations that SurfDurt stands behind, including Coral Gardeners, a marine conservation project, and Water For People, which strives to stop the water crisis and provide drinkable water to everyone.
Sea & Summit Mineral Based Moisturizing Sunscreen
I am so impressed with this little face stick.
It lasts forever and is incredibly water resistant, even when engaging in water sports or fun beach activities. Made from all natural ingredients, the paper tube is durable, but also biodegradable.
Founder Ryan Kell, a former lifeguard in Santa Barbara, wanted to make a sunscreen that actually worked without destroying the ocean. So he sold everything and converted his kitchen into a mini laboratory, using his fellow lifeguards as guinea pigs. The end result was Sea & Summit, some of the best zero waste sunscreen currently available.
Badger Clear Zinc Sunscreen
This SPF 40 zero waste sunscreen is one of the best ones out there. It’s a little easier to spread than some of the others and it always makes my skin feel extra smooth after use.
Created in 1995, Badger is all about animal friendly and earth friendly products. They always keep on top of eco friendly alternatives, and were one of the first brands to offer reef-safe sunscreens. Their packaging is all made from recycled materials, and the aluminum sunscreen case can be recycled or reused.
Save me for later!
All Good Tinted Zinc Sunscreen
All Good’s Tinted Zinc zero waste sunscreen is perfect for those with darker skin tones, or anyone needing to even out some awkward tan lines. It provides sun protection for up to 80 minutes, and is SPF 50 so you’ll never burn!
Like the name suggests, All Good only packs their products full of the good stuff, everything they use is certified organic. They are cruelty-free, woman-owned and founded companies which encourages girl power in the workplace and beyond.
If that wasn’t enough, All Good is also a carbon neutral company that donates 1% of all profits to conservation projects each year.
Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen
Raw Elements is one of the most popular zero waste sunscreens out there, and for good reason. This stuff is great for active people, since founder Brian Guadagno designed it with adventurers and water sports enthusiasts in mind.
Another lifeguard designed eco friendly sunscreen, Raw Elements is a 1% for the planet business, and dedicated to creating sustainable, eco friendly products. In 2019 they even started World Reef Day to celebrate and bring awareness to coral reefs and marine conservation.
EiR NYC Organic Surf Mud Pro Sunscreen Stick
Eir NYC makes one of my favorite zero waste sunscreens. Inspired by the Mayan chocolate mask (yes, it smells of chocolate), this not only protects from the sun and smells great, but also leaves your face feeling refreshed.
Named for the Norse Goddess of healing, Eir NYC is all about sustainable and eco friendly skin care. They use clean, chemical free ingredients that are sustainably sourced so only the best of the best goes into everything they make.
YeaBah Biodegradable Tinted Face Stick Sunscreen
Made by surfers, for surfers, YeahBah is another great zero waste sunscreen stick. It’s 100% biodegradable, child friendly AND it smells a bit like chocolate since it’s made with cocoa butter. Honestly, what more do you want?
YeahBah only uses 100% natural, raw, and organic ingredients, and all their products have fewer than ten ingredients, all of which are eco friendly and you can actually pronounce. As surfers they love the ocean as much as anyone and want it to say safe forever!
Mama Kuleana Reef-Safe Sunscreen
This zero waste sunscreen seems to be really hit or miss. Some of my friends absolutely swear by it, but it personally didn’t work for me. However, I can’t not include it because I know it does work for some and the fact that it actually comes in a biodegradable container is a HUGE bonus if you do love it!
Mama Kuleana is a Hawaiian based company, and all their products are made there as well. In the Hawaiian language, Kuleana means accepting responsibility with diligence and intent, which is exactly what this company does. They create all of their products with both people and the planet in mind.
Stream2Sea Mineral Sunscreen
Okay, let’s be real: balm-style sunscreen isn’t going to work for everyone because our bodies are all different.
If you prefer your sunscreen to feel more like cream than balm, Stream2Sea makes a great eco friendly sunscreen option.
Admittedly, this stuff doesn’t always rub in the best (really seems to vary from person to person), but it works perfectly, and a little bit goes a long way.
Stream2Sea are dedicated to removing plastic from their production, so their eco friendly sunscreen tubes are made from sugarcane resin that is 100% recyclable. However, like regular plastics, sugarcane-based plastics have limitations in terms of their recyclability.
They also make a bulk size bottle, which is made from 97% post-consumer recycled materials.
One downside is that Stream2Sea tests new ingredients on sea life, but only because there are no other options, and this testing is rare. However, because of this, they are the only sunscreen company that has been tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, C. elegans and coral larvae. The product is otherwise vegan.
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