Sun 101 |

Everything You Should Know About Reef-Friendly Sunscreens

what is reef safe sunscreen

We are and always have been mindful of both people and planet. We believe there is more work to be done in order to better understand how sunscreen ingredients impact our oceans and marine life, so we have updated our brand language to use the term “reef-friendly” rather than “reef-safe,” as we feel it best describes the environmental considerations that drive our product development while acknowledging the opportunity to improve as we learn more. As that research develops, we will continue innovating and adapting our formulas to bring you the very best of SPF every day.

The article below remains unedited from the original date of publication: August 5, 2019.

Wearing sunscreen at the beach these days can be a little tricky, especially if you’re passionate about the environment. Most people are probably wanting to use a reef-friendly sunscreen…but what is a reef-friendly sunscreen? And which Supergoop! options qualify? We’re covering all of that and more, below.

Here, we’ll dive into which ingredients could be potentially harmful to reefs and highlight the Supergoop! sunscreens you can confidently wear at the beach.

What is “reef-safe sunscreen”?

Typically a reef-safe sunscreen is considered one that does not contain the following chemical actives: oxybenzone and octinoxate. A few scientific studies have been conducted to determine that these two ingredients in particular can cause damage to coral reefs, and Hawaii has even passed a bill to prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and/or octinoxate, which will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

As always, we have to think about the fact that these types of studies are never 100% conclusive, so it’s something that we’ll continue to keep an eye on. And let’s remember that it is about certain chemical actives that are problematic, not all of them. In the meantime, this is a good way to define reef-safe SPF.

So… what sunscreen should I use at the beach?

Reef safety aside, we want to remind you that it’s most important to choose a sunscreen that’s going to serve its main purpose: help protect you from skin cancer. So, it’s crucial that you start with a sunscreen that’s between SPF 30 and SPF 50 and one that’s labeled as ‘broad spectrum.'”

Here at Supergoop!, we’ve never put oxybenzone in any of our formulas, and we’re proud to say that while we already have a lot of octinoxate-free formulas, ALL of our formulas will be octinoxate-free by 2020.

As far as clean chemical, reef-safe SPF goes, our Everyday Sunscreen SPF 30 is a great (water-friendly!) option. In terms of 100% mineral SPF, you can’t go wrong with our 100% Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 for your face. This hydrates skin and is super easy to apply and blend in. It uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as its sunscreen actives, and it’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

reef safe sunscreen

For your body, try our new 100% Mineral Play Lotion SPF 50. This is a super blendable lotion that also only uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect skin from the sun’s UV rays. And instead of being chalky and dry (like a lot of 100% mineral sunscreen lotions), it’s infused with pomegranate and perilla oils to help hydrate your skin and blend in easily. If you’re looking for a faster application method for your body, then check out our 100% Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30. It’s a non-aerosol mist that leaves behind a protective layer of 100% mineral SPF (its sunscreen active is zinc oxide only). Both Play Lotion and our mist are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

The bottom line

As we keep an eye out for more news on what constitutes a reef-safe sunscreen, we recommend wearing sunscreen that doesn’t contain oxybenzone and/or octinoxate if this is an important topic to you. 

+We hope this was helpful, but if you have more questions about reef safe sunscreens, then please leave them in the comments below!