The 10 Best Biodegradable Sunscreens
This wiki has been updated 14 times since it was first published in March of 2019. Many common ingredients in sunscreen can be harmful to marine life, as well as irritating to sensitive skin. That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of biodegradable choices, which are comprised of all-natural components and devoid of harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances and dyes. Here you’ll find selections suitable for sun lovers of all stripes, from young beachcombers to seasoned surfers. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 27, 2019:
When applied to sunscreens, the term "biodegradable" tends to be synonymous with reef safe, meaning they don't contain the toxic chemicals used in typical sunblock formulas that are known to harm marine life and are banned in many destination spots, like Hawaii, Mexico, and Key West. We chose to favor sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide as the main active ingredient - non-nano meaning that its particles are actually big enough to NOT biodegrade - which is important for small creatures, like brine shrimp (and the animals that eat brine shrimp), that might ingest it if it did break down. It usually settles over the ocean floor as a silt-like material.
After that, we looked to selections that used food-safe and organic ingredients, were cruelty-free, and devoid of parabens, synthetic fragrances and dyes, and other additions that might linger and adversely affect the environment. We also opted to avoid products that used titanium dioxide, which reacts in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxide. To create our list, we consulted an array of authorities, including marine ecologists, scientists, tour guides, and the EWG (environmental working group).
Of course, protecting yourself from the Sun is still the main priority, which is why our top three choices have an SPF of 50 and outstanding water resistance. We also incorporated options for the very active (Manda Organic, Thinksport Plus), beach and pool loungers (Suntegrity Unscented, Raw Love Safe), and children (TotLogic Non-Nano). Bear in mind that sunscreen alone can only do so much, even when you apply and reapply it perfectly. Be sure to cover yourself and your kids with protective clothing, hats, and umbrellas, too.