The best reef-safe sunscreens for surfers

Surfing
Sunscreen: protect your surfing skin from UV rays

Reef-safe sunscreen lotion products are a crucial part of surfer's lives. The use of sunscreen protects you from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation sent by the sun.

Surfers are very much exposed to skin cancer. UV rays, sand, and water reflection are responsible for severe skin damages. Irreversible problems may appear in as little as 15 minutes of sunlight exposure.

Spring and summer, as well the period between 10 am and 4 pm, are the most dangerous periods for UV exposure. Also, UV rays travel through clouds on less sunny days.

Tanning looks good and can be addictive, but skin cancer may put an end to your surfing days.

Ultraviolet radiation destroys the skin's cellular DNA and produces mutations that lead to skin cancer. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and kills more than 8,000 Americans each year.

The best sunscreen creams, lotions, and sprays offer sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection.

These are called broad-spectrum sunscreens.

Sunscreens: always choose an eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen | Photo: Shutterstock

Protect Your Face, Hands, and Feet

If you're a surfer, apply two tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before hitting the waves.

If you're enjoying the surf for longer periods, reapply sunscreen every two hours because the contact with the water is always deteriorating your sun care protection.

Surfers wearing full wetsuits should apply a thick layer of sunscreen to the face, hands, and even feet.

If you're surfing with your boardshorts only, make sure to protect all of your body. And avoid sunburns at all costs.

So, what is sunscreen? High-quality sunscreen labels include chemicals that ensure sunblock, i.e., compounds that absorb ultraviolet light, inorganic ingredients that reflect scatter and absorb UV light, and a stabilizer that slows breakdown.

Kokua, Thinksport, All Good, Suntegrity, Art of Sport, Manda, Raw Love, Badger, Raw Elements, Blue Lizard, Stream2Sea, Mama Kuleana, and Babo Botanicals are the best sunscreen labels for surfing and surfers.

Please make sure you use them all the time.

Discover the best eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen brands and check the sun protective factor (SPF) that suits your skin type:

 

Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen

Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen

The Kōkua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen is a broad-spectrum protection that provides a natural physical barrier to the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

It does not contain oxybenzone or any other chemical sunscreens. Its light, coconut-vanilla scent derives from plant extracts.

SPF: 50

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen

The Thinksport Safe Sunscreen is a mineral-based formula with the highest water resistance allowed by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

It absorbs easily, doesn't leave you feeling sticky, and is free from biologically harmful chemicals, including avobenzone, oxybenzone, paraben, phthalates, PABA, 1,4 dioxane, and UV chemical absorbers.

SPF: 50

Buy: Amazon.com

 

All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen

All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen

The All Good Sport Mineral Face & Body Sunscreen is a non-greasy lightweight formula that includes organic green tea, rosehip, and buriti oil for repairing damaged skin.

It is oxybenzone-free, water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and made with only reef-friendly ingredients.

SPF: 50

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Art of Sport Skin Armor

Art of Sport Skin Armor

The Art of Sport Skin Armor Sunscreen is a weightless, oil and fragrance-free formula that hydrates the athlete's skin in harsh conditions.

It rubs in quickly, doesn't feel greasy, and has been dermatologist tested to provide superior sun protection.

SPF: 50

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Manda Organic Sun Paste

Manda Organic Sun Paste

The Manda Organic Sun Paste is a sun protection formula for outdoor enthusiasts featuring high-quality, food-grade, all-natural, and organic ingredients, including coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, thanaka, cacao powder, shea butter, and cinnamon oil.

It has anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and moisturizing properties and was not tested on animals.

SPF: 50

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Raw Love All Natural Mineral Sunscreen

Raw Love All Natural Mineral Sunscreen

The Raw Love All Natural Mineral Sunscreen is an eco-conscious, baby and reef-safe, plastic-free sun protection.

Its high-concentrated formula is free of parabens, PABA, preservatives, or synthetic fragrances.

SPF: 35

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Badger Sport Sunscreen

Badger Sport Sunscreen

The Badger Sport Sunscreen is a simple formula feature just five ingredients - clear zinc oxide, organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and sunflower vitamin E.

It is biodegradable, reef safe, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant for at least 80 minutes - A good pick for sensitive skins.

SPF: 35

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Suntegrity Natural Mineral Body Sunscreen

Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen

The Suntegrity Natural Mineral Body Sunscreen is an easy-to-apply sun protective formula free of parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic dyes, sulfates, nanoparticles, and chemical UV absorbers.

It is loaded with antioxidants and has a light, uplifting citrus scent.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen

Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen

The Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen is full-body UVA-UVB sun protection featuring biologically active antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and extracts.

It is perfect for children, biodegradable, soy, gluten, and nut-free, and never runs or stings eyes.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

The Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen was designed with dermatologists to provide head-to-toe sun protection without oxybenzone or octinoxate.

This non-skin-irritating formula protects your skin by acting like thousands of tiny mirrors that reflect UV rays away before they enter your body.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Tropicsport Sunscreen

Tropicsport Sunscreen

The Tropicsport Sunscreen is a reef-friendly formula that stays on and protects your skin for up to four hours in the water.

Its ingredients include tucuma seed butter, baobab oil, and macadamia nut oil, all inside an eco-friendly aluminum tube.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Stream2Sea Sunscreen

Stream2Sea Sunscreen

The Stream2Sea Sunscreen has been tested and proven safe for baitfish, saltwater fish, freshwater fish, and coral larvae and doesn't affect their natural behavior.

The formula includes green tea, tulsi, wakame, and olive leaf. It's non-greasy and won’t burn your eyes.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Mama Kuleana Reef Safe Sunscreen

Mama Kuleana Reef Safe Sunscreen

The Mama Kuleana Reef Safe Sunscreen is a mineral-based UVA/UVB protection that smells great and features a 100 percent microplastic-free, fully biodegradable, and compostable screw-top jar.

It is handmade in small batches in Hawaii. The list of ingredients includes organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, beeswax, organic safflower oil, non-nano zinc powder, raspberry oil, rosehip seed oil, and vitamin e oil.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com

 

Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen

Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen

The Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen is an effective and safe sunblock formula that doesn't leave any white residue.

It rubs in well, absorbs quickly, and contains rich, skin-soothing certified organic jojoba, coconut, and avocado. It also contains shea butter and beeswax to prevent and relieve chapped face, nose, lips, and ears.

SPF: 30

Buy: Amazon.com


The sunscreens for surfers review has been updated on April 4, 2021.