• 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens UK 2022 | Babo Botanicals, Badger and More 1
  • 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens UK 2022 | Babo Botanicals, Badger and More 2
  • 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens UK 2022 | Babo Botanicals, Badger and More 3
  • 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens UK 2022 | Babo Botanicals, Badger and More 4
  • 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens UK 2022 | Babo Botanicals, Badger and More 5

10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens UK 2022 | Babo Botanicals, Badger and More

Heading to Hawaii, Florida or Thailand? With their coral reefs under threat from toxic chemicals and plastic pollution, these places are enforcing the use of reef-safe sunscreens to protect their marine environments. Even if you are not, choosing a reef-safe sunscreen when you are heading to the coast is a great way to show respect to such a beautiful underwater ecosystem and help in its survival for years to come.


Whether you are a sun-loving eco-warrior or you're just looking to be more environmentally friendly, you are spoilt for choice with brands such as Badger, Hawaiian Tropic and UltraSun offering great reef-safe products. This guide highlights what you should be looking for and avoiding in a reef-safe sunscreen, along with 10 of our favourites which are available online from Amazon, Boots and ASOS.

This Article's Contributors

mybest Editing Team
  • Last updated: 28-04-2022
Table of Contents

Compare the Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens

For those after a quick look, here is our Top 5:


  1. Babo Botanicals - Clear Zinc Sunscreen for £16.54
  2. Suntribe - All Natural Zinc Sunscreen for £18.15
  3. ThinkSport - ThinkSport Sunscreen for £29.99
  4. Alba Botanica - Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen for £8.09
  5. Lancaster - Sun Beauty Body Milk for £28.00


For a more in-depth look at the comprehensive top 10 selection, make sure to read on to learn more about the different types of reef-safe sunscreens available and understand how our ranking was determined.

This article's chosen EC site price listings are reflective of its publishing date.

Image
1
Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen 1

Babo Botanicals

2
Suntribe All Natural Zinc Sunscreen  1

Suntribe

3
ThinkSport ThinkSport Sunscreen 1

ThinkSport

4
Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen 1

Alba Botanica

5
Lancaster Sun Beauty Body Milk 1

Lancaster

6
Ultrasun Ultrasun Extreme 50+spf sun protection 1

Ultrasun

7
Badger Kids Sport Clear Zinc Sunscreen 1

Badger

8
Hawaiian Tropic  Mineral Protective Sun Lotion 1

Hawaiian Tropic

9
Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick 1

Sun Bum

10
Raw Elements Face and Body Certified Natural Sunscreen 1

Raw Elements

Name

Clear Zinc Sunscreen

All Natural Zinc Sunscreen

ThinkSport Sunscreen

Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

Sun Beauty Body Milk

Ultrasun Extreme 50+spf sun protection

Kids Sport Clear Zinc Sunscreen

Mineral Protective Sun Lotion

Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick

Face and Body Certified Natural Sunscreen

Features

The Ultimate Reef-Safe, Non-Nano Sunscreen for the Whole Family

A Pro Surfer-Endorsed, 100% Natural Zinc Facial Sunscreen

Long-Lasting, Easy-to-Apply Mineral Sunscreen With Soothing Botanical Ingredients

A Lightweight, Antioxidant-Rich Formula That's Biodegradable Too

The Perfect Choice for Those Who Want to Tan Safely

Prevent Prickly Heat With a Sunscreen for Ultra-Sensitive Skin

Nourishing, Hypoallergenic Clear Sunscreen Formulated for Kids

Delight Your Senses With Hawaiian Tropic's Mineral-Based Offering

Strong Facial Sun Protection in an Easy Roll-On Stick

Two Pocket-Sized, Plastic-Free Tins Perfect for Travelling

Price£16.54£18.15£26.99£8.09£28.00£26.25£26.25£10.33£25.99£39.98
Main IngredientsZinc oxideZinc oxideZinc oxideZinc oxide and titanium dioxideAqua, titanium dioxideAqua, titanium dioxideZinc oxideZinc oxideZinc oxideZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nanoNon-nanoNon-nanoNon-nanoNon-nanoNanoNon-nano-Non-nanoNon-nano
SPF 30305030305040305030
Water ResistantYes - 80 minsYes80 mins80 minsYesYesYes - 80 minsYes - 80 minsYes - 80 minsYes - 80 mins
Skin TypesAll including sensitive, plus babies and childrenAll including sensitive, plus babies and children Face and bodyAll including sensitiveNormal All including sensitive, plus babies and children All including sensitive, designed for children Normal All including sensitive All including sensitive, plus babies and children
Suitable ForFace and bodyFaceAll including sensitiveFace and bodyFace and bodyFace and bodyFace and bodyBodyFaceFace and body
ScentedNoNoCitrusNoYesNoTangerine and vanillaKukui nut and coconutCoconut-
Volume89 ml45 g117 ml118 ml175 ml150 ml87 ml100 ml13 g85 g
Link

How to Choose a Reef-Safe Sunscreen in the UK

Key Points to Consider

  1. Opt for a Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Sunscreen to Ensure High Reef-Safety
  2. Avoid Ingredients Such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Microplastics
  3. Choose a Broad-Spectrum Product With a High SPF to Protect Your Skin
  4. Consider a Mineral-Based Facial Sunscreen if You Are Wearing a Wetsuit

1. Choose a Non-Nano Sunscreen With Mineral-Based UV Filters

1. Choose a Non-Nano Sunscreen With Mineral-Based UV Filters

To protect your skin but also the beautiful coral reefs and the ecosystem it supports, choose sunscreen with natural or non-toxic UV filters. Mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the main active ingredient provide a natural UV filter by forming a shield on your skin to deflect and disperse the sun's rays.


Mineral sunscreens can contain either non-nano or nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are smaller, which makes the cream easier to apply without leaving a white cast on the skin – great for the face or under makeup. However, some environmental bodies state that these larger particles can be ingested by coral, advising instead that non-nano is the truly reef-safe of the two. 


With increasing research and development, there are also some great water-based reef-safe sunscreens that provide benefits to the skin. With a silky lotion-like texture, water-based sunscreens with non-toxic UV filters will not only help your tanning aspirations but nourish your skin, all while being safe for the marine environment.


Looking for an everyday option? Browse our top mineral-based sunscreens.

2. Avoid Ingredients That Are Harmful to Marine Life Such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Microplastics

2. Avoid Ingredients That Are Harmful to Marine Life Such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Microplastics

Since the terms 'reef-safe' and 'reef-friendly' are not yet regulated, be sure to avoid chemical UV filter ingredients and microplastics as these contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs and the destruction of our marine wildlife and habitats. Non-reef-safe ingredients as stated on the HEL (Haereticus Environmental Laboratory) list are:


  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Parabens
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • PABA
  • Triclosan
  • Any form of microplastic sphere or bead

3. Select a Water-Resistant, Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen With an SPF of at Least 30 for the Best Protection

3. Select a Water-Resistant, Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen With an SPF of at Least 30 for the Best Protection

Water reflects light, so you are exposed to even more UV rays when you are in the sea. This is why it is important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF of at least 30 to avoid sunburn and premature skin ageing. The SPF determines the strength of protection against UVB rays, so the higher the number, the more rays it will block, enabling longer periods of sun exposure without sunburn. 


A zinc oxide sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection will shield your skin from both the burning UVB rays and the ageing UVA rays. Just be aware titanium oxide on its own is not enough to completely protect against both UV rays and needs to be combined with zinc oxide to be effective.


To save frequent reapplication and avoid interrupting your fun in the sea, choose a sunscreen with water resistance that will protect you for the length of time you are out on the water. Always be sure to re-apply a layer after each venture into the ocean, though, especially if you have dried yourself with a towel.


Need a beach-friendly towel? We have that covered too!

4. Choose a Reef-Safe Sunscreen That Suits Your Skin Type and Water-Based Activity

4. Choose a Reef-Safe Sunscreen That Suits Your Skin Type and Water-Based Activity

Pick a Full-Body Moisturising Sunscreen for Days on the Beach

Reef-friendly sunscreens will suit most skin types because of their natural-based ingredients. However, if your skin is prone to breakouts and you want to avoid blocked pores, choose products that are non-comedogenic, water-resistant and nourishing for the skin. These are great for beach days in your swimsuit involving snorkelling and regular dips in the water to cool off.

Opt for a Hypoallergenic Face Sunscreen if You Have Sensitive Skin and are Diving, Surfing or Sailing in a Wetsuit

Divers, surfers and sailors who wear wetsuits should consider a sweat-resistant sunscreen that has been formulated for your face and suits your skin type. For those with sensitive skin, choose a hypoallergenic face cream to avoid sunburn, skin reactions and stingy eyes from drips of sweat. Be sure to use a reef-safe sunscreen on any other exposed areas of skin too!


Heading out surfing? Browse some of our favourite wetsuits.

10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens in the UK

This ranking has been compiled by the writing team at mybest UK via careful evaluation of the points made in the buying guide and thorough research of each product and comparing multiple verified customer reviews across the EC sites used.

1

Babo BotanicalsClear Zinc Sunscreen

£16.54

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 30
Water ResistantYes - 80 mins
Skin TypesAll including sensitive, plus babies and children
Suitable ForFace and body
ScentedNo
Volume89 ml
2

SuntribeAll Natural Zinc Sunscreen

£18.15

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 30
Water ResistantYes
Skin TypesAll including sensitive, plus babies and children
Suitable ForFace
ScentedNo
Volume45 g
3

ThinkSportThinkSport Sunscreen

£26.99

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 50
Water Resistant80 mins
Suitable ForFace and body
Skin TypesAll including sensitive
ScentedCitrus
Volume117 ml
4

Alba BotanicaSensitive Mineral Sunscreen

£8.09

Main IngredientsZinc oxide and titanium dioxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 30
Water Resistant80 mins
Skin TypesAll including sensitive
Suitable ForFace and body
ScentedNo
Volume118 ml
5
Main IngredientsAqua, titanium dioxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 30
Water ResistantYes
Skin TypesNormal
Suitable ForFace and body
ScentedYes
Volume175 ml
6

UltrasunUltrasun Extreme 50+spf sun protection

£26.25

Main IngredientsAqua, titanium dioxide
Non-Nano or NanoNano
SPF 50
Water ResistantYes
Skin TypesAll including sensitive, plus babies and children
Suitable ForFace and body
ScentedNo
Volume150 ml
7

BadgerKids Sport Clear Zinc Sunscreen

£26.25

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 40
Water ResistantYes - 80 mins
Skin TypesAll including sensitive, designed for children
Suitable ForFace and body
ScentedTangerine and vanilla
Volume87 ml
8

Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Protective Sun Lotion

£10.33

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or Nano-
SPF 30
Water ResistantYes - 80 mins
Skin TypesNormal
Suitable ForBody
ScentedKukui nut and coconut
Volume100 ml
9

Sun BumMineral Sunscreen Face Stick

£25.99

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 50
Water ResistantYes - 80 mins
Skin TypesAll including sensitive
Suitable ForFace
ScentedCoconut
Volume13 g
10

Raw ElementsFace and Body Certified Natural Sunscreen

£39.98

Main IngredientsZinc oxide
Non-Nano or NanoNon-nano
SPF 30
Water ResistantYes - 80 mins
Skin TypesAll including sensitive, plus babies and children
Suitable ForFace and body
Scented-
Volume85 g

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It Important to Buy Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

Coral reefs are living organisms that support a whole marine ecosystem, yet they are increasingly under threat from chemicals and plastics. The chemical UV filters from sunscreens contribute to coral bleaching, resulting in its deterioration and the devastation of marine wildlife. Choosing a non-toxic or natural reef-safe sunscreen will help save these beautiful marine environments.

Is Reef-Friendly the Same as Reef-Safe?

The terms 'reef-friendly' and 'reef-safe' found on sunscreen and other cosmetics are not currently regulated, making it very easy to be misled or misinformed by companies promoting their products as such. Therefore, it's extra important to check the active ingredients and avoid chemicals that are non-reef-safe. 

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Written and researched by Amanda Norman

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