As the summer draws to a close, in many states the sun shines as brightly as ever and the water is a perfect temperature for swimming. And of course our friends in the Northern Hemisphere are just about to embark on their swim-season. But the last time you took a dip, did you think about the impact your skincare products might be having on marine life? We all know how important it is to protect our skin from pesky UV rays, but we may be forgetting to protect our oceans from our sunscreens.


Many sunscreens contain ingredients in them that are detrimental to marine life.

When people wear chemical-ridden sunscreens and go swimming, the substances wash into the ocean and reach coral reefs, where they can act as poisons. Toxins from suncare lotions can even reach the oceans through the drain in your bathroom. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the main culprits in many products, as they can cause coral bleaching, stunt the growth of baby coral, and disrupt the hormones of fish like shrimp and clams. The island of Hawaii has even tried to place a ban on the use of any toxic sunscreens because they are worried about the health of their coral ecosystems.

The best way to avoid damaging marine life is to choose a natural, mineral-based sunscreen.

These sunscreens act like tiny umbrellas to reflect sunlight off the skin, instead of chemical sunscreens that cause a reaction (turning sunlight into heat). Using a mineral-based sunscreen can also prevent inflammation, since chemical sunscreens and their reactions can cause some irritation on the skin’s surface.

But which are the best, truly all-natural, sunblocks to use? There are heaps of companies out there that claim to have the best organic sunblocks, and it can be confusing to navigate the market. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite effective natural sunscreens so you don’t have to look any further to do the right thing for the ocean (and for your skin).

1. Keys Solar Rx Moisturizer with Sunscreen

This is a great everyday moisturizer that won’t leave a sticky residue. It is chock full of Shea Butter, Aloe Vera, and Avocado Oil for excellent anti-aging protection. The Keys Solar Rx SPF 30 is a perfect daily ritual to wear underneath makeup for those with sensitive skin, and if you are looking for something to replace your foundation, Keys also makes this sunscreen in a tinted moisturizer.

2. Raw Elements Eco Formula 30+

Raw Elements makes this SPF 30 to last through lengthy swims and sweaty workout sessions. Developed by an ocean lifeguard, and free from any toxic chemicals, this sunscreen is great for kids. As an added bonus, the sunscreen is packed with biologically active antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals so it continues to nourish the skin even after you’ve gone inside for the day.

3. Living Libations Everybody Loves the Sunshine with Zinc

Although not technically a sunscreen, this body oil is made of 20% non-nanoparticle uncoated zinc oxide to provide the same protection as an SPF 25-30. In addition to the zinc, the luxurious body oil contains hydrating plant essences that cool and protect the skin from the sun’s rays. Jojoba, raspberry seed, tamanu, and sandalwood oils make this sunblock a real treat for the skin (and nose). It is incredibly moisturizing, and anything but gooey or sticky.

4. True Botanicals Sheer Coverage

A lovely tinted moisturizer for easy sun protection and light coverage is what you’ll find in this little bottle. Beloved by beauty writers, the True Botanicals sunscreen is just what you need to feel good about your makeup. You can layer it with foundation or wear it alone, but you’ll want to wear it daily to get the benefits of the protecting and repairing antioxidants.

5. True Natural Ultra Protect 50 Antioxidant Sunscreen

For when you need some serious coverage, or if your skin is very sensitive to the sun, this sun cream goes on thick but quickly absorbs into the skin without a trace. It has a nice mild coconut smell, contains moisturizing Shea butter, and boasts plenty of antioxidants from green tea extract. It was top rated in the EWG’s sunscreen guide, and is also vegan and cruelty-free.

Story by Zoe MacKenzie Brown

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