What’s Hot: The Best Natural & Ocean-Safe Sunscreen
by Katie Joy Blanksma
The sun does not discriminate when blessing all of us with warmth, vitamin D...and ultraviolet radiation. As summer heats up, keeping our skin protected is very much on our minds. So we put on our researcher hats and set out to find the best natural sunscreens and ocean-safe sunscreens for sunny days. Here are the top finds we can’t get enough of (literally, it’s too hot outside NOT to use these)...
The Best Ocean-Safe Sunscreens
Nothing says summer like the beach, but a growing body of research is raising red flags about the reef-bleaching impact of common sunscreen ingredients (side-eyeing you, oxybenzone). Thankfully, a number of environmentally conscious brands are stepping up to the plate, and there are more ocean-safe sunscreen options than ever to choose from. The next time you pack your beach bag for a day of sun-soaked revelry, make sure to bring one of these:
- Supergoop PLAY Antioxidant Body Mist SPF 30 is our favorite reef-safe sunscreen spray thanks to its awesome applicator that mists on at any angle in a fine and even layer — even on wet skin!
- Mad Hippie Ultra-Sheer Body SPF 40 is not only an ocean-safe sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide but its sugarcane bioplastic packaging makes it one of the most all-around sustainable sunscreens out there.
- For those who like it thick, All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen Butter SPF 50+ is THE go-to sport sunscreen that stays on through sun, sweat and surf.
Best Everyday Face Sunscreens
Maybe it’s not the beach you're hitting up but a walk to the local park or watering hole. No matter where summer takes you, incorporating SPF into your daily skincare routine is a smart move for your future self. And it doesn’t have to break the bank.
- Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizer with SPF 30 is a budget friendly sunscreen that nails it with all-mineral sun protection and 12 antioxidants to protect against environmental damage on every level.
- Ok, we’re fan-girling on Paula’s Choice, but this Ultra-Light Daily Lotion with SPF 30 is hands down the best sunscreen for acne-prone skin we’ve ever tried. If you have acne, you know just how frustrating it can be to find a daily sunscreen that’s NOT pore-clogging. Well, we found it.
- REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen is made with clean ingredients like oil-absorbing rice starch to give you pore-minimizing, shine-free coverage without any greasy feels.
Best Sunscreen for Dark Skin
Darker skin has a little more natural protection thanks to higher levels of melanin, but the damage from sun exposure is still being done. Unfortunately, the sunscreen industry has a history of catering to lighter complexions with formulas that leave a white residue — especially on melanin-rich skin tones. Until now, that is. Cue the best sunscreen for dark skin that’s truly sheer and sustainable.
- Created by women of color for people of color, Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 hits all the high marks with an ultra-sheer formula that’s cruelty-free, natural, vegan and reef-safe.
- EleVen by Venus Williams On-The-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30 is a full-coverage mineral sunscreen with a semi-matte finish that works on all skin tones without leaving a white cast — so, obvi, we love. (Oh, and it’s reef-safe!)
Best Sunscreen for Kids & Babies
Obviously, we are obsessed with giving kids the best. (Have you seen our kid-friendly vitamin gummies? So much yum.) So it’s a no-brainer that we’d want the best kid sunscreen, too. So we scoured the sunscreen shelves for the most gentle, kid-friendly sunscreens that are natural, non-toxic and ready to play.
- Pipette Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is our fave reef-safe baby sunscreen lotion because it uses a non-nano mineral formula that’s infused with plant extracts like gooseberry to cool and calm baby’s delicate skin.
- MANDA Organic Sun Paste SPF 50 is made with six organic ingredients and non-nano zinc oxide to give kids (especially active kids) the best and most gentle sun protection.
Best Sunscreen Ingredients (& Worst)
When shopping for a sunscreen that protects your skin without harming the environment, knowing what to avoid is just as important as knowing which are the best sunscreen ingredients. Follow these three rules-of-thumb to narrow down your search:
- Look for mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide as their primary or only sun filter.
- Say no to petrolatum, also known as mineral oil, which takes years to biodegrade and is known to be harmful to fish and birds.
- Avoid high levels of titanium dioxide — it’s a mineral sunscreen, yes, but it does not biodegrade and can be potentially harmful to sea life.
- Oxybenzone or octinoxate are the worst offenders. These two chemicals are not only linked to coral bleaching but are known endocrine disruptors, as well. Yikes!
Fun fact: the recommended vitamin D intake is between 600 and 2,000 IU’s (international units) a day. The amount of vitamin D your skin takes in from the sun can vary depending on where you live, your age or the color of your skin, but even as little as 10-15 minutes without sunscreen can be enough for your daily dose. So, yeah, a little bit of sun is healthy but you don’t need to “lay out” for hours to get your vitamin D fix. If you’re headed out — especially during peak sun hours between 10am and 2pm — sunscreen up with ocean-safe sunscreen and don’t forget to reapply!
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