The 10 Best Reef-Friendly Sunscreens in Australia

Protect your skin whilst protecting the earth

The 10 Best Reef-Friendly Sunscreens in Australia

Australia's best reef friendly sunscreens

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. It’s also home to an abundance of marine life, including coral reefs. Unfortunately, these coral reefs are at risk due to climate change and human activity. One way that we can help protect them is by using reef-friendly sunscreens whenever we’re in the sun. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best reef-safe sunscreen brands available in Australia!

What is Reef Safe Sunscreen?

Reef Safe sunscreens are sunscreens that have been designed to protect our skin from the harsh rays from the sun whilst also protecting our planet. Whilst being just as effective as traditional sunscreens, reef safe sunscreens give us all of the protective qualities we need, but without the nasty chemicals that come along with it. The two most common chemical compounds that are removed in reef safe sunscreens are known as oxybenzone and octinoxate and are instead replaced with mineral filters that block the sun without compromising our coral reefs.

What is Oxybenzone and Octinoxate?

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are both common chemical compounds found within mainstream sunscreens and skincare products, used as a filter against UVA and UVB radiation. Whilst these filters are effective in protecting our skin from absorbing these harmful UV-rays, they are a major contributor to the damage on our coral reefs. Whilst not only contributing majorly to the coral bleaching of our reefs, oxybenzone and octinoxate can also disrupt the development of young coral reefs, causing deformities that make it even more susceptible to bleaching and even death.

Hawaii Bans Oxybenzone and Octinoxate

In 2018, Hawaii became the first state in the US to pass a ban preventing any sunscreen or skincare product containing oxybenzone or octinoxate. This was a historic act, which paved the way for other countries to follow suit and take action to protect their own coral reefs.

Tips for Buying Reef Safe Sunscreen

  • Check the ingredients list for oxybenzone and octinoxate. If these are present try to find a different alternative.
  • Look for sunscreens that contain natural or mineral filters such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These provide just as much protection without the harmful chemicals.
  • Look for water resistance: All sunscreens will wash off in water to some degree but the more it’s able to stick to your skin, the less it will damage the reef & sea.
  • Look for lotions and try to avoid spray sunscreens as these can be inhaled and are not good for you or the environment. It ends up in the air and sand around the beach which eventually makes its way into the sea.
  • Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF (30+) to ensure you’re getting the best protection possible from those harmful UV rays!

Best Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen

SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen


Thinksport sunscreen is a safe, broad spectrum UVA & UVB sunscreen suitable for daily for all skin types including sensitive skin. Best of all, this mineral sunscreen contains no nano Zinc Oxide particles, the formula is highly biodegradable, non toxic and does not contain any known chemicals harmful to coral reefs.

Sport Mineral Based Sunscreen

Blue Lizzard

This sunscreen lotion from Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is designed for athletes and features a high SPF of 50+. The sunscreen is mineral-based and contains zinc oxide to provide broad spectrum protection from UV rays. Also free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, which makes it ideal for those who want a swimming sunscreen that is gentle on coral reefs.

Best Reef Safe Sunscreen for Face

To Save Face Oxybenzone Free Superscreen


A facial sunscreen that is not only reef safe but is also designed to be non-greasy and almost weightless beneath makeup. This superscreen will not only protect your skin, but will remain matte and undetectable without leaving a white cast on the skin found with many mineral sunscreens. As well as being oxybenzone free, this formula is cruelty free, sulphate free & alcohol free.

Natural Zinc Sunscreen


Wotnot uses a zinc oxide mineral barrier to protect your skin from the effects of UVA and UVB rays, rather than chemical filters. In creating their formula, Wotnot also uses a hydrating blend of Certified Organic ingredients, including jojoba oil, aloe vera, and shea butter that leaves your skin feeling highly moisturised and silky smooth.

Best Budget Reef Safe Sunscreen

Sun SPF50 Sunscreen Range


The entire Nivea Sun range has been redesigned to be compliant with Hawaii’s Reef Bill banning oxybenzone and octinoxate. With a moisturising formula, Nivea Sun is formulated to not only protect your skin again sun damage but also against skin aging and dryness. Being four-hour water resistant also means that less sunscreen is likely to wash off and end up in our oceans.

Sheer Touch Facial Sunscreen


With 100% naturally derived ingredients, this sunscreen has been designed as an affordable option for everyday wear. With natural zinc oxide and a blend of rosehip oil, green tea, and cucumber, this formula is both nourishing and protective for your skin. On top of this, it’s Aussie made, carbon neutral, vegan, cruelty free, and has recyclable packaging, so you can know that you’re helping the planet.

Family Friendly Reef Safe Sunscreen

50+ Family UV Protect Set

Ocean Australia

Using a Zinc Oxide shield instead of any chemical filters, Ocean Australia’s reef safe sunscreen is safe and easy to apply for the whole family. Ocean Australia sunscreen also does not contain any nanoparticles, is two-hour water resistant, and is great for sensitive skin, meaning that you can enjoy a day at the beach or pool knowing your skin is in safe hands.

SPF30 Sunscreen Nourish


People4Ocean have designed a unique, 100% natural, semi-matte, golden mineral sunscreen that can be used by the entire family. Infused with a distinctive blend of carrot pigments and organic oils, this sunscreen has a distinctive golden glow that enhances the skin’s health and protection against sun damage. With each purchase of People4Ocean sunscreen, a donation is made to reef conservation efforts, which helps to further protect our reefs and oceans.

Best Reef Safe SPF Lip Balm

Original SPF 15 Sunscreen Lip Balm

Sun Bum

The balm contains SPF 15 to protect the lips from the sun’s harmful rays, and it is also water resistant for up to 80 minutes. The sun bum lip balm is also free of Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, making it a safe choice for those who are concerned about the environment.

Sheen Screen™ SPF 50 Hydrating Lip Balm

Ultra Violette

This lip balm is free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene – all of which may be harmful to coral reefs. This lip balm has a subtle tint for someone wanting a bit of colour and is also packed with antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients that will leave your lips feeling soft and hydrated.

Reef Safe Sunscreen FAQs

Which sunscreen ingredients are not reef-safe?

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the two most common chemical compounds that are not reef-safe. These ingredients are often found in mainstream sunscreens and skincare products. They can be harmful to both coral reefs and your own skin!

How Do You Know If Sunscreen Is Reef-Safe or Reef-Friendly?

The best way to know if your sunscreen is reef-safe or reef-friendly, is to check the ingredients list. If you see either oxybenzone or octinoxate listed, then it’s best to avoid that product. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are not just found in sunscreens, but can also be present in skincare products such as moisturisers, foundations and lip balms. So it’s always best to check the ingredients list before purchasing any product!

While there are many reef safe sunscreens on the market, these ten products are some of the best available in Australia. By investing in a quality sunscreen, you can not only protect your skin but also help to preserve our reefs for future generations. Do you have a favourite reef safe sunscreen? Let us know!

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