Help keep your skin safe—and our oceans and beaches as beautiful as we found them—with sun protection that does no harm.
There are few places we love more than the beach. The cool ocean breeze, the sand under your toes. The sun warm on your skin. Yet nothing ruins a day at the seaside quicker than a sunburn.
Even on cloudy days or if you plan on sticking to the shade, shield yourself from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays with products that not only protect your skin, but the environment around you.
One of the most difficult things about finding a truly reef-safe sunscreen is that you can’t rely on a stamp of certification, like ALG Vacations™ does with our TripTrust™ hotels. Since no official requirements have been put in place, any brand can claim to be reef-friendly, but the reality is even those that avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate, the two most infamous offenders against marine life, often include other questionable chemicals like octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and avobenzone—all of which have been increasingly scrutinized for their harmful effects.
To help sort through the pack, we’ve put together this list of green-thinking, cruelty-free brands with mineral formulas free of all six ingredients.
Using the natural protective capabilities of FDA-approved zinc oxide plus nourishing aloe vera, Vitamin E, and macadamia nut oil, these sunscreens were tested for over six years to live up to surfer and lifeguard standards. The result: up to four hours of water-resistant, non-greasy, natural SPF. Vegan and Leaping Bunny-certified, TropicSport recently made their products even more eco-friendly, repackaging their sunscreen in recyclable aluminum tubes. Up to 20% of sales continue to be donated to local organizations of like mind, ensuring every purchase you make goes on to help the planet.
When your birthplace is Australia, you probably know a thing or two about sun. Dermatologist- and pediatrician-recommended, this family brand makes it easy to know when it’s time to reach for the sunscreen. Regular bottles and caps turn blue once exposed to UV radiation, and tubes of their baby formula turn pink. Both are resistant to water or sweat for four full hours, and won’t clog pores. A gentle fragrance-free “sensitive” option lets even travelers with eczema or rosacea feel confident in applying.
With most of us spending more time in front of blue light than sunlight these days, make your sunscreen pull double duty with bioClarity’s SELF Healthy Beauty Award-winning SunFilter and SunShady pairing for face and body. Their 100% vegan, zinc-based sunscreens shield against not only UV rays, but blue light, free radicals, and pollutants, with the bonus benefit of moisturizing skin. Adding to their commitment to be “consciously clean,” every cap and bottle can be recycled, as can the boxes they’re shipped in.
SUN-PROTECTIVE CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES
Even more eco-friendly, however, is protection that never leaves a trace behind … and never needs to be reapplied. Fabrics with a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), a measurement of the percentage of UV radiation they can block, have become more readily available, from swim- and surfwear to polos, dresses, and sun hats perfect for vacationing.
The first clothing company to earn the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, this brand offers a wide assortment of cover-ups, swimwear, and everyday apparel with a broad spectrum UPF of 50+. In addition to sun protection that never washes out (Coolibar actually asks you to mail your item back for a UPF test if you’re feeling doubtful), their third-party-tested fabrics are breathable, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, water-repellent, and antimicrobial, and their swim line is chlorine- and saltwater-resistant.
Receiving stamps of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation, Aim at Melanoma Foundation, and iParenting Media, this woman-owned business was started by Rhonda R. Sparks after losing her husband to skin cancer when he was just 32 years old. Men, women, kids, and babies can all feel safe in their Skinz thanks to casual, easy-care UPF 50+ apparel. Shirts, shorts, rash guards, and adorable “sunzies” for baby in fun prints and bright solids mean the whole family can play the day away without worry.
Of course, sun protection means more than just defending your skin. UV waves can also cause injury to your eyes, leading to macular degeneration, cataracts, and other health concerns. Cover up with sunglasses from this well-loved, Hawaii-based company; each of their 125-odd polarized styles guards against UVA and UVB rays. Sunseekers who wear glasses can opt for a prescription pair through the MauiPassport™ program, available in 95% of styles.
While gear with a UPF of at least 30 can reduce the need to use sunscreen, it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t replace it completely. Apply sunscreen to any exposed parts of your body to prevent sun damage or -burn.
If in doubt of the right method for protecting your skin, talk to your dermatologist. They’ll be able to work with you to find a routine that keeps you and our oceans safe.
Being an environmentally responsible traveler doesn’t end here. Check out this list of ways to get insects to bug off, naturally, and these resorts that are prioritizing sustainability.