Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen and SPF Guide (Part 1)

Summer and sunscreen are pretty synonymous I think, so what better time to explore all natural SPF options??

Your skin burns quickly in direct sunlight -- often in less than fifteen minutes -- so you really have to take care to protect it.  Every time you get a sunburn, it is not just the surface that is hurt.  The very DNA in your cells is being damaged, and persistent exposure to this can increase your chances of getting skin cancer.  Using any form of sun protection is good, but using one that is broad spectrum is even better, as the deeper layers of your skin are defended against the different types of UV rays.

And with more and more concerns arising over the world's oceans and eco systems, it's definitely important to be aware of what is in your sun protection and to be sure it is reef safe, kind to your skin, and not packed full of nonsense.  So today I'm diving into the world of natural sunscreens and SPF so you have a wide range of trustworthy brands to choose from!


Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen and SPF Options Review


What is Reef Safe Sunscreen??
In the most basic terms, a reef safe or reef friendly sun protection is one that does not harm coral.  There are two types of sun protection - chemical and physical, with one using minerals to act as a type of shield against harmful rays and the other absorbing into the skin and converting those harmful rays into heat.  Sadly there are many SPF treatments out there that use UV-blocking ingredients that have been shown to severely damage ocean life, and some of those can actually lead to bleaching events (something that causes extreme stress to the coral and can lead to it dying).  The two main contributors to this problem are oxybenzone and octinoxate, but other ingredients that pose a threat are microplastics, parabens, and triclosan.

And unfortunately marketing teams are catching on that people want reef safe formulations.  Be wary of just trusting the label without digging deeper as there is no set definition of "reef safe," and as big brands on the high street are quick to start greenwashing to cash in on customers, you want to make double sure that product in your hand is actually what it says it is.  You want to look for specific details given about what is inside the formula (for example, is it non-nano zinc?), the overall ethos of the brand in question, and if in doubt give a quick scan of the ingredient list to look for anything that looks out of place.


Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen and SPF Alternatives Review
L-R: Amazinc, Earthwise Beauty, Organii, Alteya, Madara, Ayan, Green People


I will say that one thing I have noticed is that natural reef safe formulas do not tend to be vegan friendly.  The majority of products I have found and tested contain organic beeswax - I would love to know why this is the case, and I admit I was disappointed not to find more creations that were totally free from animal products (though you can see why I'm okay with using organic and ethically sourced beeswax in some cases here).  If you have any recommendations or know why beeswax features in so many SPF based products I'm all ears, so do let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my roundup of natural sunscreens and SPF treatments - you're bound to find a whole lot of variety here as you will have a pick of balms, butters, lotions, and powders as well as different factors (from 15 - 50!).


Transparency Key:
* This post contains affiliate links and some of these items have been gifted
No matter how I have received a product, whether it has been purchased with my own money, gifted by a brand, been subsidized by a brand, won, gifted by friends/family, or purchased with a gift voucher, my approach is always the same -- honesty, integrity, and highlighting both the good and the bad.  You can find more information on Disclosures and Privacy here.


Earthwise Beauty Farizad's Veil - Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Earthwise Beauty:
Let's start off with a super unique and innovative product, the Farizad's Veil Sun Reflector from Earthwise Beauty!  This has become a go to for daily protection against harmful rays, and you'll see why...

This is not your average sunscreen or SPF lotion - instead Earthwise Beauty has created a powder formula containing a mix of zinc oxide, aloe, rose absolute, champak, frankincense, and geranium bourbon.  While this does offer full spectrum protection, it also offers an immediate shield against the sun and is totally reef safe since it is biodegradable and none of the ingredients cause a chemical reaction.  Plus, the thoughtful blend doubles as an acne treatment and also offers cooling benefits (something I think everyone appreciates in the hot weather!).  I love that you can mix this however you need, adding it to your morning moisturizer or facial oil so you receive all the benefits of Farizad's Veil alongside the nourishing qualities of your skincare ritual - you just scoop out the powder, stir in, and create a super smooth lotion that you apply as normal.  Who doesn't want an instant dose of sun protection in their favourite products??

Ingredients: Non-nano uncoated zinc oxide 94% (Canada); Aloe barbadensis leaf powder*, Rosa centifolia (rose) absolute (Morocco; organic whenever available), pink Michelia champaca L. absolute (India)†, organic Pelargonium graveolens (geranium bourbon) oil (Madagascar), Pelargonium roseum (rose geranium) oil*, Boswellia sacra (frankincense) oil†.
*Certified organic. †Responsibly wildcrafted.


Madara Plant Stem Cell Age Defying Sunscreen -  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Madara:
A favourite with many, Madara offers a pretty solid range of sun care products ranging from tanning aids and aftercare to daily moisturizers and full on sun lotions.  My personal pick has to go to the Madara Plant Stem Cell Age Defying Sunscreen, an innovative creation with "patent pending stem cells from Northern Dragonhead  [which] deliver a hyper dose of antioxidants to completely shield skin from urban pollution while also regenerating and protecting the skin microbiome for a 360 degree age defying effect."

While the size of the bottle is a bit small, I find this is a great choice for a facial sunscreen.  The results are great, the defense against harmful rays is effective, and I just can't help but love this product.  The lotion has a neutral tint to it that is slightly on the beige side when you first squeeze it out, but I find it massages in transparent and absorbs well so you don't have any visual tint left behind.  Madara's sunscreen is also surprisingly light weight - I thought that since this was an 'age defense' blend that it would be on the richer side, but instead I find it pretty comfortable to wear and not at all congesting.  The SPF 30 protection is perfect for everyday use, and I really appreciate that it also protects against pollution and helps regenerate the skin's microbiome.  This is a next level kind of sunscreen!

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Zinc Oxide, Isoamyl Laurate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin**, Sorbitan Olivate, Cera Alba (Bees Wax)*, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Silica, Dracocephalum Ruyschiana (Dragonhead) Cell Culture Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil*, Cellulose, Sodium Chloride, Sorbitan Caprylate, Aroma/Fragrance, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Benzoic Acid, Aqua/Water, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Sodium Phytate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Potassium Hydroxide, Citral***, Citronellol***, Linalool***, Geraniol***, Limonene*** *Ingredients from organic farming **Made using organic ingredients ***Natural essential oils ****Pure mineral pigments


Alteya Bio Damascena Rose Otto Face Sunscreen  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Alteya:
Another brand that has a great selection of natural sun protection in their range is Alteya, a favourite affordable green beauty brand of mine that I always return to year after year.  My go to SPF from them is actually a staple in my cupboard, not only because it is suitable for my congestion prone skin but because it comes inside a beautiful glass bottle instead of a plastic tube.  The Bio Damascena Rose Otto Face Sunscreen is an award winning SPF 25 protection with anti-aging properties.  This formula does not weigh down your skin or clog pores, and it has a fairly lightweight texture despite its initial thickness.  It fully absorbs into the skin rather than sitting on top like other SPF formulas, and I never notice any heavy residue or greasy feeling once I massage the cream in.  Alteya's treatment feels slightly moisturizing as well which is fab because I don't feel like I am missing out on additional oils or creams and can just wear it on a fresh face.

I have to mention that many I have talked to about Alteya's sun care range (and heard from through Facebook groups) have mentioned that the plastic tube version of the SPF30 rose face cream is incredibly pink.  These are two separate formulations, so they do not wear or look the same, and while I do find that the glass bottle formula has a definite tint to it at first, it blends out really well leaving my complexion with an almost matte finish tinged with a gorgeous glow.  Overall I find it leaves no obvious colouring behind, however this may be dependent on skin tone.  For Tim's more olive undertones and my super pale face it works like a dream though, and we are both happy with the performance overall.

Ingredients: Distilled Thermal Water, Zinc Oxide, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Glycerin*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea butter)*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil*, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Polygliceril-6 Stearate (and) Polygliceril-6 Behenate, Garlic / Capric Triglycerides, Cera Alba (BeesWax)*, Lecithin*, Isoamyl Laurate, Macadamia Integrifolia (Macadamia) Oil*, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba (Guar) Gum*, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil*, Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primerose) Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Oil*, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Oil*, Iron Oxides (CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Fruit Extract*, Calndula Officinalis (Flower) Extract*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil*, Cymbopogon Martini (Palmarosa) Oil*, Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Oil*, Linalool**, Geraniol**, Citronellol**, Eugenol**.


Green People Organic Children Sun Lotion -  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Green People:
Green People actually have a few different options to choose from when it comes to natural sunscreen and SPF products, ranging from 15-30 factor protection.  The one I have been loving the most though is the scent free Organic Children Sun Lotion.  This ultra gentle formulation contains water repellent but non pore clogging ingredients like organic olive, avocado, and sunflower oil and organic beeswax.  Shielding against 97% of UVB rays and defending against UVA as well, the SPF 15 sun lotion is reef safe and kind to your skin.

This is a formula suitable for sensitive skin, and I have found it really helps keep my body soothed and free from blemishes as it is not overly slick and does not congest my skin.  I appreciate that it keeps me from burning and that it is water repellent too - a perfect pick for those with paddling pools or anyone lucky enough to live near the seaside!  I also really like that it doesn't have a strong odor, plus it blends in super well.  This has a light tint to it, but once you massage it in you can't tell at all!  No white residue, no pink tones - just protected arms, legs, back, shoulders...  It's just such a good all rounder, and pretty affordable too for such a generously sized bottle!

Ingredients: AQUA (SPRING WATER), ISOAMYL P-METHOXYCINNAMATE (NATURALLY OCCURRING UV-FILTER), OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT OIL*, HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL*, ELAEIS GUINEENSIS (PALM) OIL*^, TITANIUM DIOXIDE [NANO] (MINERAL UV-FILTER), DIETHYLAMINO HYDROXYBENZOYL HEXYL BENZOATE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL (EMULSIFYING PLANT WAX), GLYCERYL STEARATE (PLANT DERIVED EMULSIFIER), CETEARYL GLUCOSIDE (PLANT DERIVED EMULSIFIER), CERA ALBA (BEESWAX)*, ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE VERA) LEAF JUICE POWDER*, PERSEA GRATISSIMA (AVOCADO) OIL*, LEONTOPODIUM ALPINUM (EDELWEISS) LEAF EXTRACT*, COMMIPHORA MYRRHA (MYRRH) OIL^, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (ROSEMARY) LEAF EXTRACT*, SODIUM STEAROYL GLUTAMATE, GLUCONOLACTONE, SODIUM BENZOATE, SODIUM DEHYDROACETATE, PHYTIC ACID. *78.9% CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS, ^FAIRLY TRADED


Ayan SPF35 mineral Sunscreen Face & Body for Baby and Adults -  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Ayan:
A new member of my sunscreen squad is from Ayan, a natural brand that creates skincare and wellbeing goodies that have simple and sustainable formulas.  Their eco friendly mineral sunscreen is no exception, with both varieties using only seven ingredients!  I was sent the SPF35 Lotion for Baby and Adults, and I have to say this water resistant creation is certainly one to check out if you are looking for a gentle organic treatment!

The blend of organic sunflower and coconut oil, zinc oxide, beeswax, shea and cacao butter, and Vitamin E makes for a thick and moisturizing cream that applies smoothly across the skin and blends out so well.  It starts out pure white, but immediately massages in so you are left with a transparent finish - no white cast at all!  And the smell is lovely with a soft sweetness that I find calms the mind.  This is definitely a rich formulation with a bit of an oily feel to it, but it works great for my legs, arms, shoulders, and chest.  No blemishes, no irritation, no burns...  It's a lovely sun protection in a generous size easy to carry bottle (which is fully recyclable), and I find myself reaching for it more and more as the sunny days continue!

Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil* Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (20%), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Cera Alba (Beeswax)*, Tocopherol (Vit E), Theobroma Cacao (Cacao) Seed Butter* *certified organic


Organii SPF50 Sun Milk -  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Organii:
Speaking of fab affordable green beauty brands, Organii is another one that offers all natural formulations that perform great and don't break the bank.  There are a handful of sun care products in their lineup, including one that I always have at the ready - the SPF50 Sun Milk (though I am also very keen on the SPF20 version!).  This high protection creation reflects UV rays like a mirror thanks to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and Organii's blend offers defense against skin damage as soon as it is applied.

This is another gentle formulation, with a mix of oils like jojoba, argan, and linseed as well as calendula which helps calm and heal the skin.  While the lotion does feel a bit slick at first, it does dry down and wear very comfortably, plus this Sun Milk does not leave any white cast once you massage it in!  A word of warning though - this comes out pretty quickly and it can be a bit runny if you do not shake it thoroughly before opening.  However, I find this lasts such a long time as it glides easily across the skin and does not feel at all waxy.  This is one of the few vegan friendly formulations I have found, so it holds a special place on my shelf, plus it is fragrance free which I always appreciate!

Ingredients: aqua (water), pongamia glabra seed oil, dicaprylyl ether, zinc oxide, caprylic/capric triglyceride, polyglyceryl-3 polyricinoleate, glycerin, alcohol*, olea europaea fruit oil, titanium dioxide, oryza sativa bran oil, linum usitatissimum oil*, tocopherol, alumina, stearic acid, pongamol, helianthus annuus seed oil*, simmondsia chinensis oil*, argania spinosa kernel oil*, hydrated silica, oryzanol, magnesium stearate, calendula officinalis flower extract*, malva sylvestris leaf extract*, bisabolol, magnesium sulphate eptahydrate, stearic acid *ingredients from organic farming **as component of essential oils ***made using organic ingredients


Shade Plastic Free Sunscreen -  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review
Photo from Peace with the Wild as I finished my tin before remembering to take photos - whoops!


Shade:
This four ingredient sun protection is definitely unique, and it stands out from the crowd for a few different reasons.  Not only is it super minimalist in terms of what is inside the formula, with just coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and zinc oxide working to keep your skin safe from the sun, but it comes inside a tin!  That's right, a plastic free sunscreen!!

Shade offers SPF25 full spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection, and unlike other sun care treatments, their creation provides an intensively nourishing experience for your skin as well.  This is a thick balm with a waxy sensation that sits on top of your skin, but it is by no means uncomfortable.  I find this best for my shoulders, upper arms, and legs, as it provides them with the defense they need and does not break me out on those areas of my body.  I personally cannot use this as an all over product as my congestion prone skin just doesn't get on well with coconut oil, but I love it all the same.  It has a slightly sweet subtle scent, keeps me from getting burned to a crisp, and I just love the easy to carry plastic free packaging!

Ingredients: 36% Shea butter 36% Coconut oil 10% beeswax 18% zinc oxide


Amazinc Plastic Free Mineral Sunscreen SPF50 -  Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Amazinc
Combining the brilliance of plastic free packaging with a vegan friendly formula, Amazinc is a brand you have to check out if you are searching for a super sustainable sunscreen!  This is actually the newest addition to my personal lineup, and I am so thankful I finally decided to make the purchase.  There are three options to choose from, two of which are butters and one is a more traditional sun cream.  I grabbed the "travel size" version of SPF50+ Mineral Sunscreen as it is a generous 100ml which will suit me just fine.

With a pretty simple ingredient list containing shea, oat flour, essential oils, and a blend of carrier oils like raspberry, tamanu, oat, marula, jojoba, and almond, Amazinc have crafted a moisturizing treatment that offers SPF50 protection against UVA and UVB rays.  The cream itself is easy to get out of the aluminium bottle (though I worry it will be hard to get the final bits out come the end), though I have to say mixing it first is a MUST.  I find the oils separate, so giving it a vigorous shake is required before trying to apply.  It's super lightweight though which is a huge plus, and I can hardly tell I have anything on once I massage the lotion in and it dries down a bit.  Plus, it smells so lovely - peaceful but uplifting, and very refreshing!

Ingredients: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) But - ter, Avena Sativa Kernel (Oat) Flour, Avena Sativa Kernel (Oat) Oil, Calo - phyllum Inophyllum Seed (Tamanu) Oil, Rubus Idaeus Seed (Raspberry) Oil, Scelerocarya Birrea Seed (Maru - la) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed (Jojoba) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Almond) Oil, Lavandula An - gustifolia Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Flower (Rosemary) Oil, Jasminum Officinale Oil


Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF Review


Of course there are tons of other natural formulas on the market, and I hope to share even more eco friendly options with you in future to make your summer shopping that little bit easier.  For now though, I thought I would offer up a few of my tried and true brands to get you started.  I like to think I covered the bases with vegan friendly creations, plastic free packaging, fragrance free alternatives, and a variety of different bases.  Whether you like a powder, balm, lotion, or cream, there is definitely a reef safe choice for you in the world of green beauty!

I would love to hear if you have tried any of these natural sunscreens and SPF treatments, and if you have any other brands or specific products you would recommend I missed and should check out in future.  Let me know, and I will try to test them out for Part 2 of this series!

Whatever sunscreen you opt for, just be sure to apply some sort of defense as your skin is precious and deserves to be shielded from harm.  It's the only skin you have after all!  But also remember we only have this one world to cherish, so what is in your products counts too xx

2 comments

  1. I didn't realise that those using UV blocking were damaging reef corals! Will definitely be considering reef safe sunscreen in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It’s amazing how no one thought about reef safe products until recently and now they’ve arrived it seems rather obvious. I use both Tropic skincare and REN suncare, both of which are Reed friendly x

    ReplyDelete

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