Discover the Best Biodegradable Sunscreen for Sustainable Sun Protection

TLDR: Biodegradable Sunscreen vs Regular Sunscreen – it’s more than skin deep. Biodegradable sunscreen champions both skin health and marine life preservation. From safe DIY options to premium sustainable brands, choosing biodegradable means prioritizing personal well-being and environmental responsibility. ☀️🌊🐠👍

A Guide to the Best Biodegradable Sunscreen


Traditional sunscreens, though protective against UV rays, have raised environmental concerns, particularly their impact on marine ecosystems.

This article delves into the environmental repercussions of non-biodegradable sunscreens. It highlights the benefits of their biodegradable counterparts while showing you the best on the market.

The Environmental Impact of Non-Biodegradable Sunscreens

Most sunscreens, though protective against UV rays, pose significant threats to marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs. These aquatic structures, vital for marine biodiversity, are detrimentally affected by prevalent sunscreen chemicals.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate, prevalent in many sunscreens, are identified as leading agents causing coral bleaching. This phenomenon weakens corals, depriving them of their essential nutrients and vibrant hues.

Given these detrimental effects, the emphasis on eco-friendly sun protection is paramount. The shift to biodegradable sunscreens isn’t merely a trend but a necessary step to preserve the world’s coral reefs.

Benefits of Biodegradable Sunscreens

Why Biodegradable Sunscreens are a Game-Changer

These sunscreens, designed with environmental consciousness and user health in mind, offer several advantages:

  1. Broad Spectrum Protection: Biodegradable sunscreens effectively shield the skin from harmful UV rays. They provide comprehensive protection, ensuring that both UVA and UVB rays are effectively blocked.
  2. Absence of Harmful Chemicals: Unlike traditional sunscreens, biodegradable versions are devoid of harmful chemicals and synthetic fragrances. This means that users can apply them without concerns about introducing toxic substances to their skin or the environment.
  3. Suitable for Diverse Skin Types: Biodegradable sunscreens cater to a wide range of skin types. They are particularly beneficial for sensitive skin, reducing the risk of irritations. Additionally, they blend seamlessly with various skin tones, ensuring that everyone can use them without the dreaded white cast.
  4. Zinc Oxide as a Key Ingredient: One of the primary components of biodegradable sunscreens is zinc oxide. Along with its counterpart, non-nano zinc oxide, this ingredient acts as a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. It’s a natural mineral that offers effective protection without the concerns associated with chemical filters.
  5. Water Resistance: For those who enjoy water activities or tend to sweat a lot, water resistance is crucial. Biodegradable sunscreens recognize this need and are often formulated to resist water, ensuring that users always remain protected.

The Downside of Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens, despite their widespread use, present several concerns. These formulations often come with a series of complications:

  1. Harmful Ingredients: A significant drawback of chemical sunscreens is the inclusion of harmful ingredients. Chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and others have raised concerns not only for their environmental impact but also for potential health risks to users.
  2. Sunscreen Allergies: Allergic reactions to sunscreens are predominantly linked to the chemical ingredients they contain. Users often report redness, itching, and other forms of skin irritation after using certain chemical sunscreens, underlining the need for caution and awareness.
  3. Mineral Sunscreens as an Alternative: In contrast to chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens utilize natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients act as physical barriers that reflect UV rays rather than absorbing them. Without the inclusion of potentially harmful chemicals, mineral sunscreens offer a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative.

How to Find the Best Biodegradable Sunscreen Brands

Choosing the Best Biodegradable Sunscreen Brands

In the quest for sun protection that aligns with environmental responsibility, biodegradable sunscreen brands have emerged as frontrunners.

But with the plethora of options available, how do you choose the best?

Key Features to Look For:

  1. Fragrance Free: Many individuals, especially those with sensitive skin, seek fragrance-free options to avoid potential irritations.
  2. Paraben Free: The absence of parabens, which are often linked to health concerns, is a crucial attribute.
  3. Water Resistant: For prolonged protection, especially during water activities, water resistance is essential.

Brands Championing Natural Ingredients:

Certain standout brands prioritize natural ingredients in their formulations:

  • Coconut Oil and Shea Butter: Renowned for their moisturizing properties, these ingredients also offer added sun protection.
  • Aloe Vera: Known for its soothing properties, it’s a staple in many sunscreens, aiding in skin hydration post-sun exposure.
  • Macadamia Nut Oil: This ingredient, rich in essential fatty acids, ensures the skin remains moisturized and protected.

Certifications to Note:

When exploring biodegradable sunscreen brands, certain certifications can serve as markers of quality and commitment:

  • Certified Organic: This certification ensures that the ingredients used are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.
  • Reef Safe or Reef Friendly: Given the damage regular sunscreens inflict on marine life, particularly coral reefs, this certification signifies that the product doesn’t contain ingredients harmful to marine ecosystems.
  • Mineral Based: Sunscreens labeled as mineral-based primarily use ingredients like zinc oxide and non-nano titanium dioxide as their active ingredients, providing physical barriers against UV rays.

The Best Biodegradable Sunscreens:

Still wondering if you want to buy biodegradable sunscreen?

Sun Bum Original

Photo Credits: Sun Bum

Overview: Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion stands as a hallmark in the realm of sun protection. It’s not merely a sunscreen; it’s a skin-enriching experience, shielding against harmful UVA/UVB rays and replenishing the skin with Vitamin E.

Key Benefits:

  • Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection
  • Enriched with Vitamin E
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Compliant with Hawaii Act 104 Reef regulations
  • Free from oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, and parabens
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes

Pricing: Priced at $18.49, the Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion is available in a variety of sizes, catering to both regular users and travelers. Options include the 8oz Bottle, 6oz Tube, and 3oz Travel size.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros:
    • Comprehensive UVA/UVB protection
    • Vitamin E enrichment for skin health
    • Vegan, cruelty-free, and free from harmful chemicals
    • Complies with reef protection regulations
  • Cons:
    • Price might be slightly high for some users
    • Texture or scent might not appeal to all users

Caribbean Sol

Photo Credits: Carribean Sol

Overview: Caribbean Sol Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 is the embodiment of eco-friendly sun protection. Leveraging the power of non-nano zinc oxide, it offers a shield against the sun’s rays while championing biodegradability and reef-friendliness.

Key Benefits:

  • Broad-spectrum protection using natural ingredients
  • Biodegradable and reef-friendly
  • Free from harmful chemicals and dyes
  • Water-resistant
  • Made in the USA

Pricing: With the 4 oz. size priced at $16.99 USD 

the more compact 2 oz. size at $10.99 USD, it caters to diverse needs and preferences.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros:
    • Natural formulation ensures safety
    • Reef-friendly and biodegradable
    • Made in the USA
    • Absence of harmful chemicals
  • Cons:
    • The natural formula might feel thicker
    • Potential white cast on the skin

Raw Elements

Photo Credits: Raw Elements

Overview: Raw Elements’ SPF 50 Face & Body Spray stands as a testament to the brand’s commitment to combining skin health with environmental responsibility. This mineral sunscreen offers reliable protection backed by nature’s finest ingredients.

Key Benefits:

  • Provides broad-spectrum coverage
  • Enriched with powerful antioxidants and nourishing oils
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Suitable for both face and body application

Pricing: The sunscreen is available at a competitive price of $24.99.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros:
    • Natural ingredients ensure skin safety.
    • Offers a broad spectrum of protection.
    • Water-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor activities.
  • Cons:
    • Some users might prefer different application methods.
    • The texture or scent might not be universally appealing.


Photo Credits: Forah

Overview: Forah Everyday Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is more than just a sunscreen; it’s a holistic skin care solution. Tailored for both face and body, this sunscreen delivers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection while side-stepping the pitfalls of chemical UV filters, preservatives, emulsifiers, and a plethora of other undesirable ingredients.

Key Benefits:

  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVB and UVA rays
  • Formulated with powerful antioxidants and nourishing oils
  • Enhanced with collagen-boosting ingredients for youthful skin
  • Free from chemical UV filters, preservatives, and many more undesirable ingredients
  • Contains Organic Sea Buckthorn Oil, Organic Cold-Pressed Golden Jojoba Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Seaweed Extract, and Biodynamic Avocado Oil

Pricing: Forah Everyday Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is positioned at the premium end of the sunscreen spectrum, priced at $52.00 for its 2.87oz / 89ml size, encapsulating the luxury and quality of its ingredients.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros:
    • Comprehensive protection using nature-derived ingredients
    • Enriched with antioxidants and skin-nourishing ingredients
    • Absence of harmful chemicals and micro-plastics
    • Suitable for a holistic face and body skincare regimen
  • Cons:
    • Premium pricing might be a deterrent for some users

This sunscreen seamlessly integrates sun protection with skin enrichment, catering to users who prioritize both skin health and environmental responsibility.


Photo Credits: Thinksport

Overview: Thinksport Sunscreen represents a harmonious blend of safety and efficacy. It’s the answer for those seeking robust sun protection without the baggage of harmful chemicals.

Key Benefits:

  • Offers broad-spectrum protection
  • Absence of harmful chemicals
  • Suitable for the entire family
  • Water-resistant

Pricing: Typically falling within the $10-$20 range for a 3-ounce tube, prices might vary based on the retailer.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros:
    • Comprehensive protection from UV rays.
    • Suitable for all family members.
    • Free from biologically harmful chemicals.
  • Cons:
    • Might leave a slight white cast.
    • A natural formula can be thicker than typical sunscreens.

DIY Biodegradable Sunscreen: A Zero Waste Option

Biodegradable sunblock, crafted at home, stands out as a viable zero-waste option. This approach aligns with the ethos of minimizing environmental impact and ensuring skin safety.

Natural Ingredients: The Building Blocks:

  1. Organic Beeswax: Acting as a base ingredient, organic beeswax provides a consistency that’s easy to apply while offering water-resistant properties.
  2. Cocoa Butter: This natural moisturizer not only hydrates the skin but also provides a pleasant aroma, eliminating the need for synthetic fragrances.
  3. Essential Oils: Specific essential oils, chosen for their therapeutic properties, can be added to enhance the sunscreen’s efficacy and fragrance.
  4. Organic Sunflower Oil: Rich in vitamin E, this oil acts as a natural antioxidant, enhancing skin protection.

Broad Spectrum Protection in DIY Sunscreens:

Ensuring broad spectrum protection is paramount. This protection ensures the skin is shielded from both UVA and UVB rays. The inclusion of mineral-based sunscreen ingredients is crucial:

  • Titanium Dioxide: A natural mineral, titanium dioxide reflects UV rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin. When used in conjunction with other ingredients, it ensures a robust shield against sun damage.

Advantages of DIY Sunscreens:

  1. Chemical-Free: DIY sunscreens offer the advantage of being free from harsh chemicals typically found in regular sunscreens.
  2. Tailored to Needs: One can adjust the ingredients based on specific needs, such as dry skin or desired sun protection factor (SPF).
  3. Safe Sunscreen: Ensuring the absence of harmful ingredients makes homemade sunscreens a safer alternative, especially for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
  4. Zero Waste: Embracing a DIY approach aligns with the zero waste movement, as one can minimize packaging waste and control ingredient sourcing.

For those committed to environmental health and personal well-being, crafting a DIY biodegradable sunscreen is not just a trend but a conscious choice. It represents a tangible step towards sustainable everyday use products, encapsulating the essence of a reef-safe sunscreen ethos.

Key Takeaways

  1. Reef-Safe Sunscreens and Environmental Health: The shift towards reef-safe sunscreens isn’t merely a cosmetic or branding choice. It’s a conscious decision to protect delicate marine ecosystems. Regular sunscreen, laden with harmful chemicals, poses significant threats to coral reefs. Opting for reef-safe sunscreens ensures marine life is left unharmed.
  2. Biodegradable Sunscreens: A Dual Benefit: Biodegradable sunscreens offer a twofold advantage. Firstly, they cater to sensitive skin, devoid of chemicals that can cause irritations. Secondly, for the eco-conscious user, these sunscreens align with an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Their organic ingredients ensure that while the skin is protected, the environment isn’t compromised.
  3. Zinc Oxide: The Safe Sunscreen Champion: Among the myriad of sunscreen ingredients, zinc oxide stands out. This active ingredient, often found in mineral sunscreens, provides robust protection against harmful UV rays. It reflects the sun’s rays, preventing them from damaging the skin, making it a cornerstone for safe sunscreen formulations.

From the health of our skin to the well-being of marine ecosystems, every decision matters. The movement towards reef-safe sunscreens, the emphasis on biodegradable options, and the trust in ingredients like zinc oxide are not fleeting trends.

Pros and Cons of Biodegradable Sunscreen

Like all products, biodegradable sunscreen comes with its advantages and drawbacks. Here’s a concise breakdown:


  1. Environmentally Friendly: Biodegradable sunscreens, by design, reduce environmental impact. Unlike normal sunscreens, they break down naturally, ensuring minimal harm to marine ecosystems and the planet at large.
  2. Safe for Sensitive Skin: Crafted often with organic ingredients, these sunscreens are gentle on the skin, reducing the risk of irritations and allergies.
  3. Free from Harmful Chemicals: A significant advantage is the absence of harmful chemicals. Biodegradable sunscreens are often chemical-free, ensuring users are not introducing toxic substances to their skin.
  4. Broad Spectrum Protection: These sunscreens offer comprehensive protection against both UVA and UVB rays, ensuring the skin remains shielded from potential sun damage.


  1. Cost Implications: Biodegradable sunscreens, given their specialized formulation and organic ingredients, might come with a higher price tag compared to regular sunscreens.
  2. Frequent Reapplication: Due to their natural composition, they might require more frequent reapplication, especially after activities like swimming or sweating.
  3. Limited Availability: While they are gaining popularity, biodegradable sunscreens might still have limited availability in certain regions, making them less accessible to all users.

In weighing the pros and cons, it’s evident that the benefits of biodegradable sunscreens, especially from an environmental perspective, are compelling. While they come with certain limitations, their contribution to sustainable living and skin health is undeniable.


As we bask under the sun, it’s crucial to remember that our choices extend beyond personal protection to global implications. Biodegradable sunscreens represent more than just a trend; they signify a collective commitment to preserving both our skin and the planet. By opting for eco-friendly sun protection, we take a step closer to sustainable living, ensuring a brighter future for ourselves and marine life.