5 of the Best Eco-Friendly Sunscreens
Sunscreen is one personal care habit that we river rats simply cannot skip. If you’re in the market for something besides generic-brand grease, you may want to consider an eco-friendly sunscreen that replaces chemicals (some of which are agents of coral bleaching) with healthy, sun-blocking agents like zinc oxide. Below are several brands that offer reliable eco-friendly sunscreens that will keep your pores clear, but won’t leave behind nasty gunk in the river after a swim.
Eco-friendly sunscreens worth checking out
1) Badger Clear Zinc Sunscreen Cream – SPF 40
This is one of the toughest eco-friendly sunscreens on the market and with only four (that’s right four – all of which can be pronounced easily) ingredients, it’s also easy on the river. Badger’s water-resistant products were designed with surfers and boaters in mind so the zinc oxide stays put and the sunflower oil keeps your skin moisturized after hours in the sun and wind.
2) All Good Mineral Sport Sunscreen – SPF 30
All Good Mineral Sport Sunscreen is a favorite among those who work on (or in) the water day in and day out. The chemical-free goop goes on dry and is fragrance-free. Its mild ingredients are easy on kids sensitive skin and won’t sting their eyes. Added bonus: There’s a spray option for easy application.
3) Kiss My Face Purely Mineral Sun Spray Lotion – SPF 30
Kiss My Face’s Purely Mineral Sun Spray Lotion is ultra-hydrating and perfect for long days spent in the sun. It contains “hydresia,” or capsules of safflower oil that release moisture into your skin over several hours. Plus, it’s paraben and phthalate-free. There’s a kids version of this eco-friendly sunscreen, too.
4) Thinksport Safe Sunscreen – SPF 50+
Formulated for eco-conscious athletes and outdoor lovers, Thinksport’s Safe Sunscreen is 20 percent zinc oxide, meaning solid sun protection, and zero harmful chemicals. The brand’s products are made in the U.S. and even the packaging is designed to have less impact on the environment.
5) Super Salve Sierra Madre Sun Cream – SPF 30
Great for people with sensitive skin, Super Salve’s all-natural Sierra Madre Sun Cream is hydrating and moisturizing without the greasy or oily feel. Though it’s zinc oxide-based, the light and smooth cream rubs in clear and lasts for hours. Like many of the company’s other products, it smells good too.
No matter what brand of eco-friendly sunscreen you buy, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this basic criterion for how to pick a product:
- Choose sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and at most SPF 50
- Reapply every two hours and after swimming or heavy sweating
- Look for ‘Broad Spectrum’ protection, which blocks both UVA (early-aging) and UVB (sunburn) rays
- Choose lotions over spray for more consistent coverage
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Image credit: Badger Balm, All Good, Kiss My Face, Thinksport, Super Salve – Dylan Silver
*An earlier version of this post was first published in June 2015 and was last updated June 2021