The Best Eco-Friendly Sunscreens

Nothing turns you into a sun-worshipping lizard more than a day on the river. Whether you’re soaked to the bone after a Mad Mile of rapids or comatose after three tuna salad sandwiches, nothing feels better than basking in the sun, but before you know it you’re burnt to a crisp.

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 lotion that replaces chemicals (some of which are agents of coral bleaching) with healthy sun-blocking agents like zinc oxide.

These eco-friendly sunscreens will keep your pores clear and won’t leave behind nasty gunk in the river after a swim or three.


Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35

This is one of the toughest sunscreens on the market and with only five (that’s right 5, all of which can be pronounced easily) ingredients it’s also easy on the river. This product was 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.

AquaSport SPF 30 3oz Lotion - 2330

All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30

AquaSport is my go-to screen of choice on Jackson and Yellowstone lakes. The chemical-free goop doesn’t leave white, zinc residue, goes on dry and is fragrance-free. Added bonus: its mild ingredients are easy on kids sensitive skin and won’t sting their eyes.

3.4oz Organic Face & Body SPF 30

Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

This ultra-hydrating sunblock is perfect for long days spent in the Arizona heat. It contains “hydresia”, or capsules of safflower oil that release moisture into your skin over several hours. Plus, it’s paraben and pthalate-free!


Sun Salve Herbal Sunscreen SPF 27

Super Salve’s all-natural sun salve is perfect for protecting cheeks, nose and ears during the day or during those last rays of sun as you’re soaking warmth out of the beach sand. The small containers are easy to pack and will last longer than any cream-based product.

No matter what kind of sunscreen you buy, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this basic criterion for picking your 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

Image credit: Badger Balm, All Terrain, Kiss My Face