waste free sunscreen

Zero Waste Sunscreen You Can’t Live Without!

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If you’re looking for a zero waste sunscreen, your quest ends here!

WWB Writer and eco enthusiast Dilyana has got you and your beautiful skin covered with the top 17 of the best waste free sunscreens.

Whether you’re after finding a 100%-plastic-free sunscreen, a vegan one, or such that will protect your skin without breaking your wallet, you’ll find something for yourself!…

And if you’re wondering what exactly makes a sunscreen zero waste, why do you need one, and what qualities it should possess, stay till the end.

There you’ll also find answers to some of the most frequent questions like what sunscreens are reef safe and what the least harmful sunscreen is.

Ready? Let’s find out how we can keep our skin and the environment happy! 

But first, take a sneak peek at the contenders:

  1. Little Hands Hawai’i: Organic Reef Safe Mineral Sunscreen Butter
  2. Sol de Ibiza Plastic Free Cream – Natural Mineral Sunscreen
  3. Dirty Hippie Coconut Sunscreen Balm
  4. Raw Elements Face and Body Certified Natural Sunscreen
  5. Raw Elements Tinted Facial Moisturizer Certified Natural Sunscreen
  6. Sea & Summit Mineral-Based Moisturizing Face Stick Sunscreen
  7. Suntribe All Natural Zinc Sunscreen Face & Sport
  8. Butter Me Up Organics Plastic Free Sunscreen
  9. SunButter SPF50 Sunscreen
  10. All Good Zero Waste Sunscreen Butter
  11. MANDA Organic Sun Paste
  12. EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 Natural Organic Sunscreen for Face
  13. EmpireSquid LifeGuard Organic Sunscreen
  14. Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder
  15. Herbal Chest Vegan Natural Sunscreen
  16. SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen
  17. Apothecary Muse Sun Stick Woodsy Warrior

It might be because Australians have an inevitable relationship with sunscreens that they have created the ultimate one.

My personal favorite and recommendation, the SunButter SPF50 Sunscreen, it is vegan, suitable to use by the whole family for both face and body, and all skin types, including sensitive skin.

It’s extremely water-resistant and offers the highest long-lasting, broad-spectrum protection.

And it’s great value for money!

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DISCLOSURE

Some of the included links are affiliate links, and I may earn if you click on them AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

What Is A Zero Waste Sunscreen?

A zero waste sunscreen ideally protects you from the negative effects of the sun WITHOUT HARMING both your skin and the environment, more specifically the marine ecosystem.

All its ingredients are:

  •  Natural,
  •  organic, and
  •  are of certified origin. 

Additionally, it is produced with minimal to zero environmental impact, excluding any inhumane practices, and put in eco-friendly containers and packaging.

As you can see, creating a sunscreen that meets all these requirements it’s not an easy task. 

But more and more individuals and companies have taken to heart to come up with products that protect both us and our magnificent planet.

Let’s see them!

17 Best Zero Waste Sunscreens

Without further ado, here are your top 17 of the best zero waste sunscreens:

1. Little Hands Hawai’i: Organic Reef Safe Mineral Sunscreen Butter

Zero Waste Sunscreen

Our first contender comes from a place that has become a byword for a beach paradise, Hawaii, and the company of a local family, Rosalyn and Mike.

Rosalyn, a mother of four and registered nurse, developed the recipe during her first pregnancy as she couldn’t find a single product on the market safe enough for her newborn.

Non-nano zinc oxide, the safest possible active ingredient, provides you with a broad-spectrum SPF 35+ for up to 80 minutes, while coconut oil and shea butter, among others, will take care of your silky skin.

Important: Unlike its nano counterpart, non-nano zinc oxide particles don’t enter the skin but form a protective film over it. This quality makes it the best natural sunscreen. Learn more about the different active ingredients of waste free sunscreens below.

This zero waste reef safe sunscreen is water-resistant and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If you’d like to avoid any white cast, a tinted version is available on the company’s website. 

Additionally, for you, dear vegans, Little Hands Hawai’i has released a Vegan Head To Toe Stick, also coming in regular and tinted versions.

Mahalo, Rosalyn and Mike!

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Beeswax, Organic Raw Shea Butter, Organic Frankincense, Vitamin E Oil, Elderberry

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 35+

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Production is kept strictly local, All Ingredients are GMO-free

Pros

Regular and tinted versions
Good value for money

Cons

Not vegan

 

2. Sol de Ibiza Plastic Free Cream – Natural Mineral Sunscreen

Zero waste sunscreen
Plastic free SPF – Sol De Ibiza

From the sunny beaches of Hawaii, we continue our exploration of the best zero waste sunscreens in the lively magic island of Ibiza.

Created by a passionate open-water swimmer, Alessandro, our next contender allows your whole family to enjoy plastic free SPF 30 with water resistance for up to 40 minutes.

It comes in a compact 100-percent recyclable label-free metal tin and contains only certified natural and organic ingredients, including local Aloe Vera.

Ethically produced in Italy, Sol de Ibiza’s sunscreen is vegan and cruelty-free.

IngredientsZinc oxide (20%), Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Cocos nucifera oil*, Silica, Euphorbia cerifera cera, Polyhydroxystearic acid, Tocopheryl acetate, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Helianthus annuus seed oil*, Prunus amygdalus dulcis oil, Calendula officinalis flower extract*, Oryzanol, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl palmitate, Lecithin, Citric acid* Ingredients coming from organic farming

Vegan

Yes

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 30

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Ethical production in Italy, Supports the Ibiza Preservation Foundation Collaborates with Casita Verde, a local pioneer project that encourages a zero-impact lifestyle

Pros

Good for both face and body
Usable by the whole family
Great texture
No white residue

Cons

Pricey
Not non-nano zinc oxide

3. Dirty Hippie Coconut Sunscreen Balm

vegan zero waste sunscreen
Dirty Hippie Coconut Sunscreen Balm

Despite its name, there’s nothing dirty in this zero waste sunscreen.

On the contrary, it contains all-natural, broad-spectrum non-micronized zinc oxide powder combined with organic, fair trade coconut, carrot seed, red raspberry seed, and wheat germ oils. 

And its gentle lime scent will keep you fresh and inspired.

This vegan zero waste sunscreen has been specifically developed for people with sensitive skin. In this respect, the content of pure essential oils has been lowered to a minimum.

But probably its coolest feature is that it also has a version with a bug repellent formula. Both are available in a variety of sizes and containers to match your needs and preference.

IngredientsNon-Micronized Zinc Oxide, Virgin Coconut Oil*, Shea Liquid*, Shea Butter*, Cocoa Butter*, Candelilla Wax*, Carnauba Wax*, Carrot Seed, Raspberry Seed* and Wheatgerm Oils*, Natural Vitamin E, Steam Distilled Lime Essential Oil*Certified Organic

Vegan

Yes

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes, 30 SPF

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Supports a Dirty Hippie Recycle Program

Pros

A variety of sizes and containers for different occasions
Could order in bug repellent version
Suitable for sensitive skin

Cons

Pricey

 

4. Raw Elements Face and Body Certified Natural Sunscreen

zero waste sunscreen

This sunscreen was the one that most often popped up during my research.

I can see why. It is:

  •  Leaping Bunny certified, (Leaping Bunny is considered the most trusted cruelty-free certification for products not tested on animals)
  • cruelty-free, 
  • reef-safe, 
  • biodegradable, and 
  • doesn’t contain any GMO. 
  • Its 23% non-nano zinc oxide will keep you safe from the sun for at least 80 minutes.

Boasting a combination of natural and certified organic ingredients, neatly put in a reusable, recyclable, plastic-free tin, and all at an affordable price, Raw Elements sunscreen indeed ticks every single box.

Oh, and to top it all, the company is a member of the 1% for the Planet initiative, a global network of businesses, individuals, and non-profit organizations addressing pressing environmental issues.

It has also founded World Reef Day on June 1st to raise awareness and encourage people to save the world’s reefs.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide (23%), Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Green Tea, Organic Black Tea, Organic Coffee, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, All Natural Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, All Natural Rosemary Oil Extract, All Natural Vitamin E

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 30

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

1% for the Planet memberFounder of the World Reef Day to raise awareness and encourage positive action in saving the world’s reefs

Pros

Affordable

Cons

Some consider it a bit oily.
Might not be suitable for sensitive skin
Not vegan

 

5. Raw Elements Tinted Facial Moisturizer Certified Natural Sunscreen

zero waste moisturizer with SPF

Another representative of the Raw Elements family, created specifically for the face, this zero waste moisturizer with SPF 30 will keep it protected for up to 80 minutes.

It has all the goodies mentioned for its face and body counterpart but takes things up a notch with its ultra-moisturizing formula, suitable for even dry and sensitive skin.

Furthermore, it has a medium tint that matches all skin tones.

I think you can say “Goodbye!” to your regular moisturizer, at least for the summer months.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide (23%), Sunflower Oil*, Green Tea*, Black Tea*, Coffee Bean*, Hemp Seed Oil*, Cocoa Butter*, Mango Butter**, Beeswax*, Rosemary Oil Extract**, Vitamin E**, Iron Oxides*USDA Certified Organic **Certified Natural

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 30

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

1% for the Planet member, Founder of the World Reef Day to raise awareness and encourage positive action in saving the world’s reefs

Pros

Affordable
Suitable for sensitive skin

Cons

Some find it oily, sticky, and hard-to-apply
Not vegan

 

6. Sea & Summit Mineral-Based Moisturizing Face Stick Sunscreen

plastic free face sunscreen

If your face needs some additional protection + hydration, this zero waste face moisturizer with SPF 36 is perfect for you.

Created by Ryan, an ocean kayak guide and lifeguard off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, it’s water-resistant and great for any outdoor activity, from pool parties and BBQs to sightseeing to hiking.

Forget about white residues and stingy eyes; thanks to its all-natural, all-organic formula, the sunscreen rubs in clear and doesn’t burn your eyes.

Despite its compact size, this plastic free face sunscreen is said to last for about 100 applications.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Alfalfa Extract, Beeswax, Carnuba Wax, Cedarwood Essential Oil, Iron Oxide, Lanolin, Lavender Essential Oil, Mica, Brazilian Rose Clay, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Shea Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil, Vitamin E, Yellow Iron Oxide.
All ORGANIC

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 36

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Committed to producing environmentally friendly sunscreens by employing responsible, transparent business practices to encourage clean and conscious living

Pros

Compact
Easy-to-apply

Cons

Pricey

 

7. Suntribe All Natural Zinc Sunscreen Face & Sport

waste free sunscreens
Suntribe All Natural Zinc Sunscreen Face & Sport

Get Olympic protection for your face with our next contender!

This 100% natural zinc sunscreen is created with professional athletes in mind. Its highly effective formula keeps your face and neck safe whether you’re riding the big waves or sweat on land.

It is extremely water-resistant and comes in four different tints, all packed in a compact plastic-free push-to-open metal tin.

Multiple professional athletes, including Swedish pro surfer Tim Latte, British kitesurfing champion Rachael Hooper, and Olympic class sailors Jimmy Togni and Ubo Crivelli, have attested to the efficiency of this zero waste face sunscreen.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Coconut Oil*, Beeswax*, Natural colorants: Theobroma Cacao Seed Powder* (Mud Tint), Iron Oxide (Retro Red), Ultramarine (Ocean Blue)*Organic

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 30

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Keeps strict policy of transparency for all their products’ ingredients, production, and certification
Scientifically validated 100%-safe for marine life sunscreens
Collaborates with Nordic Ocean Watch and Sea Going Green, organizations dedicated to reducing people’s negative impact on world oceans

Pros

Extreme water resistance
Four different tints

Cons

Pricey
Not vegan

 

8. Butter Me Up Organics Plastic Free Sunscreen

zero waste face sunscreen
zero waste face sunscreen

Our next contender raises the bar that is the SPF to 45+.

I guess the company’s motto summarizes it all: “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t put in it.”

Made of all-edible certified organic ingredients, including non-nano zinc oxide of the finest quality, it is all-natural, safe, and cruelty-free. 

The combination of coconut oil and mango butter gives it a delightful tropical scent and puts you in a holiday mood.

But probably the best thing about this zero waste sunscreen is that you can have it in a jar as big as 8 oz.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide*, Coconut Oil*, Shea Butter*, Mango Butter*, Non-GMO Grapeseed Oil, Vitamin E*, Beeswax*
*Certified Organic

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 45+

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Zero-waste company
Plastic-free shipping
Upcycled packaging when possible

Pros

Available in a variety of sizes, including an 8-oz. jar

Cons

Some consider it a bit oily
Not vegan

9. SunButter SPF50 Sunscreen

zero waste vegan sunscreen
SunButter SPF50 Sunscreen

Price: $22 for a 3.5-oz tin

We’re reaching the heavy category of sunscreens, giving a maximum of SPF 50.

And we start with a zero waste vegan sunscreen coming from a place where wearing sunscreen has become part of people’s daily routine, Australia. 

Besides the high SPF, it is also water-resistant for 4 hours and suitable to use for the face and body by the whole family.

Furthermore, the non-aqueous formula ensures your sunscreen will not only last longer compared to other water-based sunscreens but will lock in more of your skin’s natural moisture.

This zero waste sunscreen SPF 50 comes in a food-grade-safe, reusable and recyclable tin. 

It is registered with and approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the country’s medicine and therapeutic regulatory agency.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Medium Chain Triglycerides (from coconut oil), Candelilla Wax, Coco-Caprylate, Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Polyglyceryl-3 Ricinoleate (vegetable-based emulsifier), Isostearic Acid (plant-based binder), Vitamin E

Vegan

Yes

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 50

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Locally made in Australia in a solar-powered factoryApproximately 10% of profits goes to saving the planet Earth

Pros

Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin
Suitable for babies and face application
Great value for money

Cons

Ordering outside Australia might not be sustainable due to the air miles

10. All Good Zero Waste Sunscreen Butter

zero waste sunscreen SPF 50
zero waste sunscreen SPF 50

The next zero waste sunscreen SPF 50 lives up to its name.

There’s not a single negative thing I can say about it.

The 25% non-nano zinc oxide will form a protective sealing on top of your skin and won’t absorb, which makes the sunscreen hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin.

The coconut oil and the calendula flowers infused in jojoba oil allow for a smooth application and super hydration. 

The beeswax adds to the sunscreen’s water resistance that could last up to 80 minutes.

This compact reusable tin of all-goodness will keep you safe in even the most extreme environments, be it high in the mountains or in the water.

A tinted version is also available.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide (25%), Coconut Oil*, Beeswax*, Calendula Flowers* infused in Jojoba Oil*, Non-GMO Vitamin E*Organic

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 50

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

1% for the Planet member
Climate-neutral certified company

Pros

Compact
Great for air travel

Cons

Pricey
Leaves white residues
Not vegan

11. MANDA Organic Sun Paste

zero waste SPF

Our next contender has been battle-tried by its surfer creators.

It is a performance-driven, long-lasting sunscreen for active people, be it surfers, hikers, or athletes, that spend multiple hours under the sun.

The star among its ingredients is undoubtedly the thanaka, a small tree in Myanmar.

Locals have been using a paste from its bark for more than 2000 years for its natural sun-protecting and skin-beautifying qualities.

Furthermore, thanaka is high in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties, which makes this sunscreen suitable for acne-prone skin.

Lastly, by using thanaka, MANDA aims at further lowering the company’s footprint on the environment by reducing the amount of mined zinc oxide.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide (20%), Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Beeswax*, Organic Cocoa Butter*, Thanaka, Organic Cacao Powder*, Organic Shea Butter*, Organic Cinnamon Oil**Certified Organic

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 50

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unspecified

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Using innovative plant-based plastic packaging for new productsUsing thanaka, a small tree in Myanmar offering natural sun protection and skin beautification, to further offset the company’s footprint on the environment by reducing the amount of mined zinc oxide

Pros

Long-lasting protection
No oily feeling

Cons

Pricey
Not vegan
Some find it hard to apply

12. EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 Natural Organic Sunscreen For Face 

 zero waste face sunscreen

The last in the zero waste SPF 50 series is also created by surfers, the surf community in Montauk, New York, but it specifically protects the face.

Remember when I told you a zero waste sunscreen should not contain ingredients more than your fingers?

Well, with only six ingredients, this zero waste face sunscreen lives up to this requirement.

They are all-natural and simple, but mighty as the Norse goddess of healing Eir the company was named after.

The non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide extra broad-spectrum protection that will last throughout your activity, either on the slippery slopes or the high waves.

The cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and coconut oil deeply nourish and hydrate the skin.

The beeswax seals the moisture into the skin while creating a natural barrier and adding to the product’s water resistance.

Thanks to its compact stick form, you can apply this plastic free face sunscreen directly to your face and then simply blend it using your fingertips.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Beeswax, Cocoa Butter*, Coconut Oil*, Cocoa Fruit Powder**Organic

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 50

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Committed to exploring new sustainable solutions
Plastic-free packaging
Hand-selected ingredients and packaging

Pros

Compact
Easy to apply
Extra-long protection

Cons

Pricey
Not vegan

13. EmpireSquid LifeGuard Organic Sunscreen

zero waste sunscreens
EmpireSquid LifeGuard Organic Sunscreen

The remaining zero waste sunscreens all have an additional quality that makes them one idea more special.

We start with flexibility.

It is not every day that you can choose the ingredients of your cosmetics, but the GiantSquid LifeGuard Organic Sunscreen gives you the freedom to do so.

You can customize this hand-made to order sunscreen to be vegan, to have a higher SPF, or skip or modify the essential oils.

The only negative is that the estimated SPF, 15-25 for the original and 20-35 for the extra, is not laboratory tested.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Organic Shea Butter*, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil*, Beeswax*, Organic Lavender Essential Oil*, Organic Peppermint Essential Oil*, Organic Macadamia Nut Oil*, Vitamin E*Certified organic

Vegan

Customizable to

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; Original SPF 15-25, Extra SPF 20-35

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Committed to high-quality, environmentally conscious products, and packaging

Pros

Customizable content
Available also in an 8-oz jar

Cons

SPF not laboratory tested

14. Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder

low waste sunscreen

Effective sun protection requires reapplying your sunscreen multiple times.

But what about when you’re wearing full make-up? Our next contender solves this problem!

This innovative low waste sunscreen allows for reapplying with your make-up intact.

Simply twist the bottom, release the brush, and apply the all-natural sunscreen powder.

It’s portable, compact, and can fit in any purse, sports, or make-up bag to ensure your face is protected anytime, anywhere.

How convenient, right?

The only downside is that it’s put in a plastic container. However, refills are available, so this compensates for the not-so-eco-friendly factor.

IngredientsTitanium Dioxide (15%), Zinc Oxide (12%), Alumina, Boron Nitride, Chamomile Flower Extract, Green Tea Extract, Honeysuckle Flower Extract, Iron Oxides, Mica, Rice Lipids, Rice Starch, Safflower Oil, Silica, Stearic Acid, Triethoxycaprylsilane

Vegan

Yes

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 30

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

No/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Unspecified

Pros

Portable, compact
Self-dispensing brush
Refillable

Cons

Plastic container

15. Herbal Chest Vegan Natural Sunscreen

zero waste SPF moisturizer
Herbal Chest Vegan Natural Sunscreen

The next entry on our top 17 of the best zero waste sunscreens is this handmade vegan natural sunscreen.

If you’re allergic to or simply not a fan of coconut oil, you’re lucky cause you won’t find it among the ingredients.

In fact, this zero waste SPF moisturizer is unscented and perfect for sensitive skin.

The combination of non-nano zinc oxide, green tea, and shea butter will keep your skin protected, nourished, and super-hydrated.

It should be noted that the estimated SPF of 20 hasn’t been attested by any regulatory organization. Also, the sunscreen is not water-resistant, so make sure you reapply it after sweating or being in the water.

IngredientsNon-nano Zinc Oxide, Green Tea, Olive Oil, *Elder Flower and *Violet Infused Grapeseed Oil, *Shea Butter, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Candelilla Wax, Non-GMO Vitamin E Oil*Organic

Vegan

Yes

Broad-spectrum
protection

Not specified; SPF 20

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Unspecified

Pros

Unscented
Available in different sizes

Cons

SPF not confirmed by any regulatory organization
Not water-resistant

 

16. SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen

zero waste tinted sunscreen

Created by Californians Nikki, an avid surfer, and Max, a passionate biker, with the support of Max’s dad, a Ph.D. chemist/ surfer from Hawaii, our next contender offers high-performance water-resistant SPF 30 for up to 80 minutes.

The formula, a fine combination of non-nano zinc oxide and food-grade ingredients, such as coconut and avocado, takes care of both your skin and the reefs.

But what I most like about this sunscreen is that the company donates a portion of the proceeds from the different products it offers to various causes, such as saving coral reefs, clean water, and planting trees programs.

For example, a portion of the proceeds of this zero waste tinted sunscreen goes directly to Coral Gardeners, a global community organization dedicated to fighting coral reef decline by planting and restoring coral systems.

Check SurfDurt’s website for more details.

Although it’s currently unavailable due to the global pandemic, the company used to support a refill program.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide, Cocoa Butter*, Coconut Oil*, Jojoba Oil*, Avocado Oil, Beeswax, Beeswax Derivative, Mango Butter, Vitamin E, Iron Oxide Pigment*Certified Organic

Vegan

No (contains beeswax)

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes; SPF 30

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes/ Unknown

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

A portion of all proceeds from the company’s different products is directly donated to different causes/organizations supporting coral, providing surf therapy for underserved communities, or planting trees.

Pros

Long-lasting protection
Blends well with skin color

Cons

Not vegan
Pricey
Might tint white or light-colored clothes

 

17. Apothecary Muse Sun Stick Woodsy Warrior

zero waste sunscreen
Apothecary Muse Sun Stick Woodsy Warrior

Our last contender comes from a truly inspirational woman, dare I say, a real muse.

Her name is Eryn Hughes, former DJ, lifelong cyclist, and owner and adventure aromatherapy maker of Apothecary Muse.

She has taken the creation of products that are environmentally safe and practical to use by outdoor adventurers, such as bikers, hikers, runners, and skiers, to heart.

One of them is our contender, aka the ultimate sunscreen-bug repellent, which will keep you protected for up to 2 hours, even in the desert.

Suitable for both face and body with no white residue, this solid stick zero waste sunscreen comes in a compact, eco-friendly cardboard tube that allows easy application without messing up your hands.

Its solid formula also makes it great for traveling by air.

Opt for the 1-oz version for a weekend getaway, or take the 1.5-oz one on a longer trip with your family.

IngredientsNon-Nano Zinc Oxide Powder, Sunflower* Seed oil, Illipe Butter, Candelilla Wax, Kaolin Clay Powder, Red Raspberry* Seed Oil, Aloe Vera* Leaf Extract, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, Geranium Oil, Texas Cedarwood Oil, Carrot* Seed Oil, Patchouli Oil, Catnip Oil, Neem* Oil, Yarrow Extract*Organic

Vegan

Yes

Broad-spectrum protection

Yes

Reef-safe

Yes

Sustainable container/ packaging

Yes

Company ethical/ sustainability practices

Zero-waste packagingSourcing  raw materials of the highest quality

Pros

Sunscreen + bug repellent
Two different sizes
Compact
Easy-to-apply

Cons

Pricey

 

Why Do You Need Zero Waste Sunscreen?

waste free sunscreen
Image by marijana1 from Pixabay

To tell you why you need a zero waste sunscreen, I think it’s best to tell you why not only don’t you need a conventional sunscreen, but you must run away from it faster (if that’s possible) than Usain Bolt.

We use sunscreen to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of the sun that cause our skin to age and could lead to skin cancer.

Ironically enough, the main ingredients of conventional sunscreens could also cause skin cancer, as well as mess up our hormonal balance. 

Among the most common ones are oxybenzone and octinoxate

And to top it all, when the sunscreen gets washed into the ocean as we enter the water, it leads to the so-called coral bleaching, discoloring of corals due to extreme stress. 

Multiple studies have demonstrated that the chemicals in conventional sunscreens not only kill the corals but lead to their DNA damage and deformation.

Even if you don’t care that much about the corals and the marine ecosystem (although you should but hey, no judgment here), I bet you wouldn’t like either you or any beloved person of yours to get hormonal disbalance or skin cancer.

So, if not for the environment, you need low waste sunscreen for your and your family’s health.

Top Five Things To Look For In A Good Zero Waste Sunscreen

waste free sunscreen
Image by AdoreBeautyNZ from Pixabay

I hope I got you persuaded that you do need zero waste sunscreen, and if you’ve gone through the top 17, you probably got an idea about what makes sunscreen plastic free and what qualities it should possess.

But if you still have any hesitations, here are the top five things to look for when choosing your low waste sunscreen:

1. Ingredients

The ingredients are the true differentiator for a waste free sunscreen. 

Active

The most common ingredients offering natural sun protection are derived from two minerals: zinc and titanium.

They are in the form of zinc oxide and titanium oxide powders and come in two versions: nano and non-nano. 

The nano versions have very small particles that could be absorbed by the skin and are equally harmful to marine life like the previously mentioned chemicals.

So, pay special attention to get a sunscreen containing the non-nano versions of the minerals. 

Other

Coconut oil and/or butter, cocoa butter, and various essential oils are among the most common non-active ingredients of natural sunscreens.

The important thing here is to make sure they are, if not certified organic, at least organic.

2. Broad Spectrum Protection

The two types of ultraviolet sun rays that we need to be vigilant about are UVA and UVB.

A sunscreen that protects us from both types is considered to offer broad-spectrum protection.

So, check whether the one you intend to buy has this quality and that it has been laboratory tested for it.

3. Reef-Safe

sunscreen plastic free
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Reportedly one drop of the majority of the over-the-counter sunscreens can damage an area with coral reefs as big as 6 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

National Geographic indicates that approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen are washed into the oceans yearly.

Even if you’re bad at math (like me), I believe you can understand the gravity of the problem.

So, carefully read the label of your future sunscreen, and ensure it doesn’t contain any of the following chemicals detrimental to coral reefs and other representatives of the marine ecosystem:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • PABA (Aminobenzoic Acid)
  • Enzacamene
  • Octisalate
  • Homosalate
  • Avobenzone

Neither does the below preservatives and additives:

  • Methyl Paraben
  • Ethyl Paraben
  • Propyl Paraben
  • Butyl Paraben
  • Benzyl Paraben
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan 
  • Microbeads (plastic)
  • Phenoxyethanol

4. Production

If the production of a zero waste sunscreen is (more) harmful to the environment than what it intends to save, then it goes without saying that this is not a good product.

Look for locally produced sunscreens utilizing sustainable practices. 

Additionally, as it is a cosmetic product, make sure it is cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

5. Container/ Packaging

Just like with production, it is pointless if the sunscreen comes in a non-sustainable container and packaging.

Aim for recyclable and/or reusable containers and check about the packaging while shipping if you’re ordering it online.

Zero Waste Sunscreen FAQs 

low waste sunscreen
Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash

What Sunscreens Are Reef Safe?

Reef-safe sunscreens don’t contain harmful ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. For a more detailed list of ingredients, you should avoid, see above.

What Is The Least Harmful Sunscreen?

The least harmful sunscreen is unscented, mineral-based, and free of harmful chemicals. It uses natural ingredients as opposed to synthetic ones that harm the corals and us.

Conclusion

And there you have it, your top 17 of the best zero waste sunscreens.

Using sunscreen that is bad for the environment does not need to be an option anymore!

But now you’re empowered with all the knowledge that will help you choose wisely and have fun in the sun without harming neither yourself nor our beautiful planet.

What are you waiting for? Go, make an eco-friendly splash!

Zero Waste Sunscreen

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