The sea of sunscreens out there can be confusing. But wearing any sunscreen is better than nothing. Did you know that an estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by sun exposure? This is a crazy number! UV-radiation from the sun is also a major risk factor for skin cancer. But fortunately we have sunscreen to protect us.
Why you should look for a broad spectrum sunscreen.
If you see a sunscreen labeled «broad spectrum», this indicates that it contains ingredients that protect you well against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning). UVB protection is measured in SPF, and UVA in PA. This broad protection is what you want! Therefore you should always try to use a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Mineral or chemical sunscreen?
Mineral sunscreens (or inorganic sunscreens for you chemistry nerds out there) contain minerals as active ingredients. Usually zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. This kind of sunscreen acts as a phycial barrier between your skin and the sun. Like a shield around your skin that reflects harmful UV-rays. A big negative with mineral sunscreens is that they are difficult to blend in and often leaves a heavy white cast. This can really make it difficult for anyone with a darker skin tone to find a good mineral sunscreen (and not look like Casper!) A good option may be a dark tinted mineral sunscreen, which we have included on our list down below.
Chemical (or organic) sunscreens work in another way, by absorbing the UV-rays. The chemicals in the sunscreens then get rid of the UV-rays. This way, the sunscreen absorbs the UV-rays before it has a chance to get to your skin. There has been a lot of fuss around active ingredients in chemical sunscreens getting into the bloodstream. Ingredients like Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and Octocrylene are just examples. But is this harmful? Is it more harmful to wear this sunscreen than to not wear sunscreen at all? We have written an article going deeper into these ingredients. Still, we want to point out that it is not certian if there ingredients are harmful to humans yet, and it is probably better to wear sunscreen than nothing!
Reef safe sunscreens?
Many sunscreens contain ingredients that are harmful to aquatic life. A «reef safe» sunscreen is supposed to be completely safe for the ocean. Nonetheless, a bottle of sunscreen labeled «reef safe» may not actually be reef safe. How can that be? Well, the term reef safe does not have a definiton and is not regulated. Therefore sunscreen companies can basically make their own interpretation of what a «reef safe» sunscreen should be.
So what should you do? Well, there are multiple organisations out there dedicated to save the ocean and aquatic life. HEL (Haereticus Environmental Laboratory) is a non-profit scientific organisation just like that. They have great list of what ingredients to stay clear of to actually have a «reef safe» sunscreen. Ps. Mineral sunscreens are often winners when it comes to this! Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide does not seem to harm aquatic life, except when it comes in «nano»-form, which is tiny particles of the same ingredients. Stay clear of this and save the ocean! We have included mostly reef-safe sunscreens in our list down below.
Our favorite sunscreens of 2021!
Finally, here are some of our favorite sunscreens of 2021! All broad spectrum!
SuperGoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
This chemical sunscreen is a non-greasy and lightweight sunscreen. It really is «unseen» and is a great choice for all skin tones. Its oil free and full of antioxidants to help protect your skin even more! It is water and sweat resistant for up to 40 minutes. This is a brand that focuses on being reef-safe, and all their sunscreens are free from oxybenzone. Yet, this sunscreen it is still not perfect. This is a chemical sunscreen, and if you dont like that, it is just fine, next up is a fantastic mineral sunscreen from the same brand.
SuperGoop ZincScreen SPF 40
This 100% mineral sunscreen is a great alternative to the one above. If you want a mineral sunscreen this is a great choice. It is lightweight and has a pink-hued formula, yet it may not be a match for the darker skin-tones out there. This one is considered reef-safe!
This mineral sunscreen is great for dark skin tones! The founder of Unsun (Katonya Breaux) stuggeled to find a sunscreen that work for her skin tone, so she created this! A fantastic tinted mineral sunscreen that is reef safe!
La Roche Posay Anthelison Ultra Light Fluid SPF 60
This is an oil-free and lightweight chemical sunscreen. It’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes and fragrance free. Now formulated without oxybenzone. It’s sutible for all skin types, especially normal and combination. A great choice if you don’t mind a chemical sunscreen.
MDSolarSciences Mineral Créme SPF 50
This is another great mineral sunscreen. This sunscreen is rich in antioxidants and sutible for sensitive skin. It is oil and fragrance free, as well as water resistant for up to 80 minutes. A great mineral sunscreen, but be aware that it may leave a white cast on darker skin tones. MDSolarSciences mineral tinted SPF 30 is a better alternative for darker skin tones. This brand focuses on being animal friendly and reef safe, and all their formulas are oxybenzone and octioxate free.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55
This chemical sunscreen absorbs quickly and leaves a lightweight, non-shiny finish. It is now oxybenxone-free, but still includes some other uncertian ingredients. Octinoxate, homosalate and octoclylene are also all known to be bad for aquatic life. Yet, this sunscreen is still a great and inexpencive choice if you stay away from the ocean. Its water resistant up to 80 minutes, so its a great choice if you are active out in the sun.
CeraVe Hydrating Mineral SPF 50
This 100% mineral sunscreen is sutible for sensitive skin. It’s oil-free, frangrance-free, paraben-free and gentle on the skin. It is also a good reef safe sunscreen. Its packed with ceramides, hyaloronic acid and ninacinamide. This does however leave a pretty significant white cast, and I would not recommend it to someone with tan or dark skin.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
This sunscreen is both chemical and mineral. It is dermatiologist recommended as it help calm and pretect sensitive skin types prone to acne, rosacea or discoloration. Its inculdes amazing high-purity ninacinamide, vitamin E and lactic acid. Its oil-free, frangrace-free and paraben-free. This does however have octinoxate as a main active, which is not a reef friendly ingredient. A big plus with this one is that it leaves no white cast, it really is «clear»!
This is some of our favorite sunscreens of 2021. Remember that seeking shade and wearing sun protective clothing is a must for a complete sun protection. Be safe and protect yourself from the sun every day!