Sunshine and water are one of life’s best combinations. There’s no better way to spend a summer day, and this means you end up using a lot of sunscreen. We’ve all heard the recommendation to wear SPF, and having a chronic illness makes that recommendation even more important! Besides being uncomfortable, sunburns come with some hefty side effects. The least being early signs of aging, and the worst being a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer – by DOUBLE– if you’ve had five or more sunburns. Many of the drugs for chronic illnesses already up our risk of cancer, so it’s important to reduce risk anywhere else we can.
Having a chronic illness adds more risks to time out in the sun. We must watch for things like the sun triggering flares, speeding up dehydration, or exacerbating migraines or fatigue. Doctors recommend staying out of the sun when it’s strongest, but sometimes you just gotta dive into some water. Covering up with a sun top, staying in the shade, and a good sunscreen with SPF 30+ are the best lines of defense.
Choosing the Best Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen
We all agree we should wear sunscreen, but many of us feel overwhelmed by the choices out there. Having a chronic illness and already dealing with more than the average person, sifting through all of the brands and products available is a task on the to do list that gets ignored….or doesn’t even make the cut!
If you’re dreaming of lazy, hazy days of summer by the pool, ocean, or lake, don’t worry – I’ve done all of the research work for you! I’ve chosen the 8 best natural reef-safe sunscreens on Amazon.
What to Know About Sunscreen
Chemical Sunscreens and Their Risks
Chemical sunscreen uses chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. According to the Environmental Working Group, these chemicals are absorbed into our bloodstreams and mimic our hormones. None of these chemicals have been sufficiently studied to ensure the safety of their long-term use. Oxybenzone is very commonly used, and the little bit of study that has been done on it has shown decreased levels of testosterone in boys. Additionally, very small studies have shown negative effects on pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.
Given how little experts know about these chemicals, it’s better to play it safe rather than sorry and avoid their use. There is no need to complicate our already complicated health by using chemical sunscreens.
These chemical sunscreens are also polluting our waters. You may think, “I don’t live near water. I just hang at a pool.” All of our water is connected at some point, in some way. When chemical sunscreen is used in my parent’s pool in Oklahoma, the chemicals are still a risk to the environment because the pool water splashes into the grass and gets absorbed, or we shower after swimming and the chemicals go down the drain.
For those of us with lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans to enjoy, even more is at stake. Coral bleaching is occurring at an alarming rate, whales are dying in numbers never seen before, and fish populations are declining. While there are many factors contributing to these emergencies, chemical sunscreens play a role which is easily eliminated.
This can all sound very scary, and I hope I haven’t come off as preachy. I simply want to help raise awareness around the risks chemical sunscreens pose to human, animal, and environmental health.
Natural Reef Safe Sunscreens and Their Benefits
For all intents and purposes, “physical sunscreen”, “natural sunscreen”, “reef safe sunscreen”, and “mineral sunscreen” are synonyms. A mineral sunscreen uses either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect you. These natural minerals sit on top of the skin, physically blocking the sun’s harmful rays. Because they sit on top of the skin, absorption into the blood stream is no longer a concern.
Sunscreens that use a mineral to physically block the sun’s rays are not only beneficial to you, they are beneficial to the environment. Called “reef safe”, the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide won’t harm coral reefs and other marine life the way chemical sunscreens do. 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in our oceans each year, so choosing a mineral sunscreen is a great way to help coral reefs maintain their health.
Zinc has been used for millennia as a cure for burns and wounds. It’s the more common mineral in sunscreens and is the active ingredient in all of the brands recommended here.
Zinc is combined with oxygen during a chemical heating process. This creates a fine powder that is added to a variety of products. This powder is what sits on top of your skin and protects you by scattering the sun’s rays before they begin causing damage.
Anyone else thinking of Wonder Woman’s bracelets right now?!
Natural Reef Safe Sunscreen Drawback
The only drawback to using a mineral sunscreen is that because it sits on top of the skin and is white, it can leave you looking like a ghost. The fix is simple. Apply the sunscreen to well-hydrated skin to avoid this.
Companies to Choose
Knowing what companies to trust can be confusing. You want a product that will protect you, and you want to make sure to give your money to a company who is kind to people and the planet. So, what are some things to look for when you want to choose a responsible company?
- B Corp – From the B Corp website, “Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.”
- 1% for the Planet – These companies donate 1% of their gross sales to groups and causes protecting the environment and natural places
- Cruelty-free – not tested on animals
- Vegan – doesn’t contain ingredients derived from animals
- Give back – choose to donate a portion of their sales to charities and other non-profits
I scoured Amazon for the best natural reef safe sunscreens from the best companies and found these 8 to be the top choices. They are all water resistant for up to 80 minutes and have an SPF of 30 or higher.
This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. I only recommend products I use and love. Thank you for supporting Balanced Life and Travel.
The 8 Best Natural Reef Safe Sunscreens on Amazon
Coola Suncare Classic Sport Sunscreen SPF 50
With avocado oil, agave leaf extract, and arnica Montana flower extract, this one not only protects your skin from UV rays, it moisturizes, is anti-inflammatory, and calms irritation. Organic, cruelty free, vegan, and gives back.
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Moisturizer Sunscreen
Committed to creating clinically-tested natural products that have a vitamin-rich juice base instead of petroleum or water. Organic, cruelty free, and vegan.
Love Sun Body 100% Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
COSMOS certified, meets European standards, and dries quickly without being white. Certified Green Business, cruelty free, and vegan.
Badger SPF 35 Clear Zinc Sport Sunscreen Cream – Unscented
Family owned and operated, provides free organic lunch to employees every day, and operate their business by their values. Organic, cruelty free, B corp
Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
Tested and approved by the Skin Cancer Association. Their employees enjoy a great work/life balance and can bring their dogs and kids to work. Cruelty free and vegan.
Sky Organics SPF 50 Organic Sunscreen
Transparent sourcing means you can see exactly where each ingredient came from. Family owned and operated. Organic, cruelty free, and vegan.
Two Peas Organics SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen
With organic coconut oil, jojoba oil and shea butter, this sunscreen also moisturizes. Family owned and operated. Organic, cruelty free, and vegan.
All Good Organic Sunscreen Stick SPF 30
Perfect for post-surgery scars, this stick with coconut oil is super easy to keep with you for a dab any time you need it. B corp, 1% for the planet, organic, and cruelty free
Hopefully, you’ve found that choosing a natural reef safe sunscreen isn’t as overwhelming as you thought. Feel confident as you make your way to the pool or beach, knowing you chose not only responsible products, but responsible companies.
Let us know in the comments below where you plan to use your sunscreen, and share this post with anyone who wants to get out into the sun this summer.
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