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The 12 Best Reef Safe Sunscreens in Australia

November 29, 2021 7 min read

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Top 12 Reef-Friendly Sunscreens in Australia to Keep You and Our Oceans Safe

Written for Auski by Pink Lemonade Social

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide into this summer. But don’t forget to be safe - Reef Safe to be exact. Australia is home to some hottest summers and some of the best beaches in the world which we want to keep that way. When enjoying an Aussie Christmas break or lazy summer days at the beach it’s important to protect your skin and our oceans, and choosing a reef safe sunscreen is one easy way you help yourself and the environment.

But what is reef-safe sunscreen or reef-friendly sunscreen, and why is it important?

Reef-safe” or “reef-friendly” is usually used to describe sunscreens that don’t contain are typically contain oxybenzone and octinoxate (two common UV-blocking chemicals) which through scientific studies have shown to cause coral bleaching – something that is severely affecting our very own Great Barrier Reef. It is estimated that up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen are washed into coral reefs around the world each year – not great. Interestingly, the state of Hawaii was the first to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in July 2018.

What to look for in Reef Safe Sunscreen:

  • Choose Non-nano & Mineral sunscreens – these are usually made from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that don’t contain nano-particles which means the particles in the sunscreen are too large to be ingested by coral and are less impactful to reefs.
  • Use rub-on lotions – lotions rather than sprays are less likely to be washed into the ocean.
  • Good water resistance– a reef-safe sunscreen that stays on longer is less likely to wash off as well as providing longer protection. Make sure to follow the instructions and wait for the sunscreen to be absorbed before heading in the water.
  • Non-toxic, paraben-free and organic when you can! Selecting non-toxic and organic sunscreen (where possible) can aid in reducing reef damage, though organic sunscreens tend to cost more. Most child-friendly sunscreens are more likely to contain natural ingredients.

What to avoid in Reef Friendly Sunscreen:

  • Avoid sunscreen containing octinoxate and oxybenzone
  • Avoid sunscreen containing Cinnamates and Parabens - Parabens have been found to be harmful to reefs.
  • As mentioned above, avoid aerosols – more likely to be washed in the water.
Reef Friendly Sunscreen Australia

our number 1 pick


Sun Bum Sunscreen

Sun Bum provides reef friendly sunscreen products, with two things in mind, protecting you and the environment. When it comes to the ingredients of their products, they don’t like to mess around. Sun Bum have always been adamant about removing any ingredients that may be questionable for the planet. At Auski, we stock a variety of Sun Bum products including, SPF 30+ sunscreen, SPF 50+ sunscreen, SPF 15+ lip balm, browning lotion, aftersun cool down lotion and many other products so you can enjoy the sun this summer while staying safe.

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The Top 12 Reef Safe Sunscreens in Australia

In no particular order, we’ve rounded up a list of 12 reef-friendly sunscreens that should be your choice for protection at the beach this summer. They also make a great gift for surfers and beahc lovers!

Surf Mud Natural Zinc

An Australian made and owned product, Surfmud is the sunscreen made for enduring the outdoors whether it be surfing waves or laying by the beach. Surf Mud is a natural zinc-based cream suitable for all skin types. It also glides on smoothly and is safe for children as well. It is also one of the best sunscreens for surfers; handmade by surfers for surfers. RRP $25.00 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Sun & Earth Natural Zinc Cream

Sun & Earth Natural Zinc Cream, is a reef-friendly cream that is made for the water. It is a cold-pressed and organically made cream which is another favourite for surfers. A hand-made cream in Byron Bay that protects your skin but does not harm the reef. Also note, it comes in various tints to give a subtle but vibrant glow; there’s a shade for everyone. RRP $24.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

SunButter SPF50 Sunscreen

SunButter is a vegan sunscreen which is all about high protection from the sun’s UVA and UVB’ rays, where it also uses natural zinc as its active ingredient. It is also another Australian made and owned product that promises 4 hours of water resistance. It also is typically a popular base for women who choose to put sunscreen before their makeup. No nasty white glows in sight. RRP $29.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

People4Ocean Sun Care

People 4 Ocean is also another Australian made and owned suncare line that blends sun protection, organic ingredients and protection of our marine environment. It is a great product for skin-loving and is suitable for all skin types and users. You can even slap this onto pets as well. What is great about this sunscreen, is that it is not only reef-safe but contributes portions of their sales to fund reef conservation efforts! RRP $49.00 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Eco by Sonya - Natural Rose Hip Sunscreen

If you are looking for a natural sunscreen that will stay on no matter what, Eco by Sonya’s Natural Rose Hip Sunscreen is for you. This award-winning sunscreen is a great option to protect and preserve your skin. It is great for sensitive skin types as well as providing 3 hours of water resistance. Its protective barrier on the skin is quite tough, which is great for those burning hot Australian summer days. It is also environmentally and reef-friendly and uses sustainable packaging to minimise waste. It is a simple, all-natural and effective product for anyone. RRP $29.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Seed & Sprout Sunscreen

Seed & Sprout is all about a sustainable future. With the reef in mind, creating a sunscreen that does not harm our reef is what they have done – creating a plastic-free, SPF 50 reef-safe sunscreen. A sunscreen that blends a perfect consistency of cream and liquid that blends into your skin naturally. Free from any chemicals, plastic and palm oil, this non-greasy formulation is perfect if you are looking at a sunscreen with zero-waste packaging in mind. In addition, there’s also tinted variations to enhance your glow over the summer. RRP $29.00 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

We Are Feel Good Inc Sunscreen

Finally, the last reef-friendly sunscreen on our list is We Are Feel Good Inc’s sunscreen line, another Australian owned and made product that is safe for our reefs. These sunscreens are ideal as a base primer but can be used interchangeably as an everyday sunscreen. It works well with all skin types and can be used by babies 6 months or older. It has 4-hour water resistance and is lightweight, which is an added plus. No greasy looks whatsoever and free from nasty preservatives, parabens and oxybenzone and octinoxate. RRP $27.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Simple As That Natural Sunscreen Lotion

100% natural, light-weight, mineral and vegan, the Simple as That SPF 30 natural sunscreen lotion is non-greasy and perfect for both your face and body and for the whole family. Pharmacist formulated the sunscreen not only protects from harmful UVA and UVB rays but includes antioxidant-rich Green Tea and Rosehip Oil, as well as their signature ingredient, Red Raspberry Seed Oil for its natural sun protection qualities. RRP $29.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Little Urchin Natural Sunscreen SPF 30

Yet another Aussie made and owned sunscreen, Little Urchin Natural Sunscreen is a non-nano, reef safe and eco friendly choice, with 3 hours water resistance and rich in antioxidants. Preservative and fragrance-free this sunscreen is also a great choice for those with sensitive skin and also comes in a tinted option. RRP $24.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Ocean Australia SPF 50+ Body Sunscreen

Ocean Australia’s SPF 50+ sunscreen is a chemical filter-free, natural zinc protection sunscreen for your whole body with moisturising Vitamin E, protecting your skin and reflecting the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Dermatologically tested, its free from all nasties, provides 2 hours water resistance and is ethically produced. RRP $24.99 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Sukin SPF 30 Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen

Sukin are known for their great skincare products, and many don’t realise they also produce a great natural sunscreen. 100% naturally derived, it’s designed for daily use (not just the beach), leaving no white casts and sheer to touch. Sukin’s reef-friendly sunscreen, like the others in the list, is free from oxybenzone and octinoxate, is non-greasy, and is antioxidant-rich. RRP $24.95 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

Wotnot 30 SPF Natural Sunscreen

Wotnot’s ethos is A little of a great thing is all you need and their SPF 30 natural sunscreen is another of their products that embodies this creed. An award-winning broad-spectrum UV-A & UV-B sunscreen, it’s made from certified organic ingredients, is moisturising and nourishing, and reef safe with no toxins. RRP $28.99 Available online & select stockists nationwide.

What to wear to protect your skin this summer?

Another great choice for sun protection is to wear UPF-rate sun protection clothing. Rashies are a great choice for using less sunscreen, meaning fewer chemicals in our oceans. Checkout the latest rashies and sunsmart tops from Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Roxy and Billabong

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The best part about our sunburnt country is undoubtedly our surf. We’re so lucky to have so many options around the country.

The above list isn’t complete by any means, there are many more great sunscreen products, so let us know what your favourite is, or if we missed any that deserve a mention. Remember to Tag #YourLifeOutdoors and share your next beach adventure with us on Facebook or Instagram (@auskiaustralia)!

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