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  • Writer's pictureValinda

Protect Your Skin and the Planet: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Sunscreen

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

With summer just around the corner, many of us are stocking up on sunscreen to protect our skin from harmful UV rays. But have you ever stopped to think about the impact your sunscreen might have on the environment? Traditional sunscreen is packed with chemicals that can harm marine life and ecosystems, and the packaging often ends up in landfills or oceans. That's where zero waste sunscreen comes in. Not only does it offer protection from the sun's rays, but it's also environmentally friendly, leaving behind no trace of harmful waste. In this blog post, we'll explore the problem with traditional sunscreen and introduce you to a range of zero waste sunscreen options that are both effective and eco-friendly. So, get ready to enjoy the sun while also protecting the planet!

Why is zero waste sunscreen important?

Zero waste sunscreen is more important now than ever before. The harmful chemicals found in traditional sunscreens are not only bad for our skin but are also detrimental to the environment. When we swim in the ocean or dive into a lake, the chemicals from traditional sunscreen wash off our skin and pollute the water. This can have a devastating impact on marine life and ecosystems, damaging coral reefs and disrupting delicate aquatic ecosystems. By switching to zero waste sunscreen, we can reduce our environmental impact while still protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. With the world becoming more environmentally conscious, it's time we start taking responsibility for our actions and make the switch to eco-friendly products, starting with our sunscreen.

zero waste sunscreen

What makes sunscreen biodegradable?

Sunscreen is an essential part of sun protection, but traditional sunscreens can have a devastating impact on the environment. That's where biodegradable sunscreen comes in - it's a more eco-friendly option that breaks down naturally and doesn't harm the environment. But what exactly makes a sunscreen biodegradable? The answer lies in the ingredients. Biodegradable sunscreens contain natural, plant-based ingredients that can easily break down in the environment. These ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are safe for marine life and ecosystems. Biodegradable sunscreens also come in plastic-free packaging, further reducing their environmental impact. So if you want to protect yourself from the sun while also protecting the planet, consider making the switch to biodegradable sunscreen.

Chemicals to avoid in sunscreen

There are several chemicals commonly found in traditional sunscreens that can have negative impacts on the environment and human health. These chemicals are known to be difficult the remove from wastewater which means they will continue to pollute our (drinking) water when they end up in our oceans. When they pollute our waters, fish may eat them which results in these chemicals ending up in our food chain. So it is best to avoid them as much as possible.

  • Oxybenzone: This chemical is found in many sunscreens and has been shown to damage coral reefs and marine life. It can also cause allergic reactions and hormonal disruptions in humans.

  • Octinoxate: Another chemical that is harmful to coral reefs and marine life, octinoxate has also been linked to endocrine disruption and may have negative impacts on reproductive health.

  • Retinyl Palmitate: This form of vitamin A is sometimes added to sunscreens to enhance their effectiveness, but it has been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer when exposed to sunlight.

  • Homosalate: This chemical has been linked to hormone disruption and can accumulate in the body over time.

  • Octocrylene: Octocrylene can break down into harmful byproducts when exposed to sunlight and is toxic to some marine organisms.

  • Octisalate: Octisalate is a water-resistant ingredient that is used to improve the longevity of sunscreen in water through swimming and sweating. It is known to affect coral reef.

When looking for a more environmentally-friendly sunscreen, it's important to choose a mineral-based option that doesn't contain these harmful chemicals. Look for active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are less harmful to the environment and don't have the same negative impacts on human health.

What to look for in zero waste sunscreen

When it comes to zero waste sunscreen, there are several factors to consider to ensure you're making a sustainable choice. To help you navigate the world of clean beauty, it's important to check off a few key criteria as you shop. First, consider the item's availability - is it being shipped to you from another country or can you find it locally? Next, look for natural or mineral-based ingredients, as well as certified organic options. Vegan and cruelty-free formulations are also important to keep in mind. Pay attention to whether the product contains palm oil and investigate how and where the ingredients are sourced. Finally, don't forget to consider the packaging - look for options that can be reused, recycled, or composted to minimize waste. By keeping these factors in mind, you can find a zero waste sunscreen that not only protects your skin but also supports a healthier planet.

20 Zero Waste Sunscreen

Earth Harbor

  • Packaging: Glass

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide

Get ready to protect your skin like never before with Earth Harbor's Eclipse Sheer Mineral Sunscreen. This SPF 30 formula is perfect for everyday use, guarding your skin against outdoor and indoor stressors. Say goodbye to heavy, pore-clogging sunscreens, and hello to a lightweight, gentle solution that works for all skin types. The Eclipse Sheer Mineral Sunscreen is reef-safe, non-nano, and 100% mineral-based with Zinc Oxide, Macroalgae, and Green Tea Extract, ensuring your skin is protected against sunburn, skin damage, early aging, and environmental stress. Apply it before your makeup routine or at least 15 minutes before sun exposure to defend your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, blue light, and pollution damage. Don't compromise on your skin's health – let Earth Harbor's Eclipse Sheer Mineral Sunscreen do the heavy lifting for you!

zero waste sunscreen - earth habor

All Good

  • Packaging: Recyclable Plastic

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide

Introducing a sunscreen that is not only safe for your skin but also for the environment - and especially for our precious coral reefs. The Family Size Sport Zinc Sunscreen from All Good is made from organic and oxybenzone-free ingredients, making it a perfect choice for anyone who wants to protect their skin while also minimizing their impact on the planet. With added zinc oxide, green tea, rose hips, and buriti oil, this sunscreen provides both sun protection and nourishment, so you can keep your skin healthy and glowing all summer long. And with SPF 30 UVA/UVB broad spectrum mineral-based formula, you can rest assured that you are getting the best possible protection from the sun's harmful rays. Plus, it's water resistant for 80 minutes, lightweight, and non-greasy, making it the perfect choice for any outdoor activity - whether it's a beach run or an ocean swim. So why settle for a sunscreen that harms the environment when you can have one that is good for your skin and the planet? Give All Good's Family Size Sport Zinc Sunscreen a try and discover your new go-to sunscreen!

zero waste sunscreen - all good

Goddess Garden

  • Packaging: Aluminum bottle

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Titanium Dioxide (8.0%), Zinc Oxide (5.0%)

From soccer to swimming, tennis to track practice, it seems like your kids are always on the move! With all that activity, you need a sunscreen that can keep up with their active lifestyle. That's where the Kids Natural Spray Sunscreen from Goddess Garden comes in. Designed to protect your little athlete from the elements, this powerful formula is a must-have for parents on the go. With an impressive SPF 30, it offers superior sun protection without leaving behind a greasy residue. Plus, it's water-resistant, so you can rest easy knowing that it won't wash off during those poolside playdates. From wind and rain to dirt and sweat, this sunscreen has got your kids covered no matter what. Invest in the best for your little ones and try the Kids Natural Spray Sunscreen from Goddess Garden today!

zero waste sunscreen - goddess garden


  • Packaging: Sugarcane resin

  • SPF: 20

  • Active ingredient: 6.6% Titanium Dioxide

Get ready to soak up the sun without harming the planet with Stream2Sea's revolutionary Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 20). This high-performance sunscreen not only protects your skin from the sun's harmful rays, but also nourishes it with a powerful blend of green tea, tulsi, wakame, and olive leaf. Say goodbye to sticky and greasy sunscreen with this lightweight and non-greasy formula that offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. And the best part? It's reef-safe and won't harm the ecosystems you love. Tested by chemists to ensure its safety for our oceans, this mineral-based sunscreen is also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it perfect for all your outdoor adventures. Plus, it won't run into your eyes with sweat, so you can focus on having fun in the sun. Apply this biodegradable formula in sections and rub in well – a little goes a long way! Protect your skin and preserve our planet with Stream2Sea's Mineral Sunscreen.

zero waste sunscreen - Stream2sea


  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 40

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide 22.5%

Picture this: a beautiful summer day spent outside with your loved ones, basking in the warm sun without a care in the world. But wait, are you protected from harmful UV rays? Look no further than Badger's Clear Zinc Sport Sunscreen Tin. With just four natural ingredients and no added scent, this SPF 40 sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The clear cream-based zinc oxide formula is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you can enjoy your day without constantly reapplying. Not only is it certified natural and non-toxic, but it also comes in a recyclable or reusable plastic-free tin, making it the ultimate eco-friendly choice for sun protection. With Badger's Clear Zinc Sport Sunscreen Tin, you can feel good about protecting your skin and the environment.

zero waste sunscreen - badger

Tierra & Lava

  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 15

  • Active ingredient: Titanium Dioxide

Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays is important, but why not do it in style with the Turmeric & Vanilla Sunscreen from Tierra & Lava? This organic and natural sunscreen is crafted with locally and sustainably sourced ingredients straight from Guatemala, making it an eco-friendly choice for those who care about the planet. Not only is it reef-safe, but it's also water and sweat resistant, so you can stay protected even during intense outdoor activities. The formula features eight botanicals, plus zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, providing SPF 15 broad spectrum protection. And the best part? You can say goodbye to greasy, hard-to-apply sunscreen and hello to this convenient balm. Simply rub it between your fingers and apply it generously to both your face and body. Remember to reapply at least every two hours, and even more often if swimming or sweating in the sun. With Tierra & Lava's Turmeric & Vanilla Sunscreen, you can enjoy your time in the sun worry-free, knowing your skin is protected and you're making a positive impact on the planet.

zero waste sunscreen - tierra and lava

Seed Phytonutrients

  • Packaging: Aluminium

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Titanium Dioxide: 1.50%, Zinc Oxide: 11.25%

Don't let harmful UV rays damage your skin! With Seed Phytonutrients' Daily Protective Moisturizer SPF 30, you can easily add daily sun protection to your routine without sacrificing moisture or adding extra steps. This mineral-based sunscreen is packed with nourishing ingredients such as coconut alkanes and green tea, as well as powerful UV-blocking agents like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. With its broad-spectrum protection, this moisturizer is perfect for all skin types, ensuring that you can enjoy the great outdoors without putting your skin at risk. Get ready to step up your skincare game and protect your skin with Seed Phytonutrients' Daily Protective Moisturizer SPF 30.

zero waste sunscreen - seed phytonutrients

Raw Elements

  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (23%)

Get ready to enjoy the sun without harming the environment or your skin with Raw Element's Face + Body 30 SPF sunscreen. This innovative product comes in a recyclable and reusable tin, allowing you to avoid the use of plastic in your daily routine. Made from certified all-natural ingredients, this sunscreen provides UVA-UVB true broad-spectrum protection to keep your skin safe from harmful rays. It's also incredibly gentle and moisturizing, making it perfect for children. Plus, its performance-driven formula is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you can have fun in the sun worry-free. The sunscreen is packed with biologically active antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and extracts, which continue to nourish and protect your skin long after exposure to the environment. Say goodbye to harmful chemicals and say hello to Raw Element's Face + Body 30 SPF sunscreen.

zero waste sunscreen - raw elements

Bare Republic

  • Packaging: Recyclable Plastic

  • SPF: 70

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide 16.9%, Titanium Dioxide, 3.49%

Ready for a big adventure without worrying about a mess? Look no further than Bare Republic's family-friendly sunscreen stick, the perfect go-anywhere solution for your sun protection needs. With an impressive SPF 70, this stick provides the highest mineral protection available, thanks to its Non-nano Zinc Oxide formulation. Not only is it effective, but it's also free of chemical sunscreen actives, making it a safe and gentle option for all skin types. The teardrop-shaped applicator allows for easy application, even in those tough-to-reach spots. And with added ingredients like moisturizing Shea Butter, antioxidant-rich Raspberry Seed extract, and Carrot Seed extract to soothe and nourish your skin, you can feel confident in your sun protection while also giving your skin some extra love. So don't hold back on your adventures - go big and don't go home with Bare Republic's family-friendly sunscreen stick.

zero waste sunscreen - bare republic


  • Packaging: Recyclable Plastic

  • SPF: 50

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20% (non-nano).

Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen is the ultimate solution for those looking for effective and natural sun protection. With its non-nano mineral zinc oxide formula that blocks both short and long UVA & UVB rays, you can rest assured that your skin is fully protected. What's more, Thinksport has enriched its sunscreen with vitamins and antioxidants that help moisturize and nourish your skin. And the best part? It smells incredible! Infused with the subtle scents of fresh currant and grapefruit, this sunscreen is perfect for everyday use, whether you're hitting the gym, exploring the great outdoors, or just lounging on the beach. Highly water-resistant and suitable for both face and body, Thinksport is the ultimate choice for athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and environmentally conscious consumers alike.

zero waste sunscreen - thinksport

Salt & Stone

  • Packaging: Recyclable Plastic

  • SPF: 50

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide (Non-Nano) 22.5%

If you're looking for a natural sunscreen that's easy to apply and leaves a matte finish, look no further than this face stick! With a water-resistant formula that glides on smoothly and absorbs into the skin quickly, you won't have to worry about any white residue or stickiness. Plus, the added benefit of a natural tint means it blends perfectly with all skin tones, making it a great option for a variety of skin types. But that's not all - this sunscreen is also clean, effective, and sustainable, so you can feel good about using it on your skin and in the environment. Say goodbye to harsh chemicals and hello to a natural solution for sun protection!

zero waste sunscreen - salt stone

Reef Repair

  • Packaging: Recyclable Plastic

  • SPF: 50

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide

Looking for a natural sunscreen that won't leave you looking like a ghost? Look no further than this amazing face stick! With a matte finish and water-resistant formula, this sunscreen glides on smoothly and sinks into the skin effortlessly, leaving no white residue behind. And unlike other natural sunscreens, this one is formulated with a natural tint that blends into all skin tones, so you can protect your skin without sacrificing your style. Best of all, this sunscreen is clean, effective, and sustainable, so you can feel good about using it every day. Protect your skin and the planet with this natural sunscreen face stick today!

zero waste sunscreen - reef repair


  • Packaging: bamboo

  • SPF: 50

  • Active ingredient: Non-nano zinc oxide - 20%

Get ready to take on the great outdoors with MANDA Organic Sun Paste. This SPF 50 formula is specially designed for adventure-seekers, whether you're hitting the waves, scaling a mountain, or exploring a new trail. With its physical sunscreen formula, this product sits on top of your skin, creating a visible layer that you can apply as thick or as light as you want. It stays put for a long time, so you can enjoy the sunshine worry-free. And best of all, it's made with high-quality, food-grade, all-natural, and organic ingredients that are certified organic. One of the key ingredients is Thanaka, a natural cosmetic used for over 2000 years by the Burmese people for its anti-aging, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-acne properties. MANDA Organic Sun Paste is not only good for your body, but it's also good for the environment, with its reef-safe formula that avoids harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Plus, the unique packaging made from bamboo and tin is not only recyclable but can also be reused for storing small items like coins or headphones.

zero waste sunscreen - manda


  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Non-nano Zinc oxide

Looking for a natural sunscreen that's safe for both you and the ocean? Look no further than SurfDurt! This reef-safe sunscreen is made with 11 food-grade ingredients and non-nano zinc oxide, replacing harmful toxins with a natural formula that protects your skin while keeping marine and aquatic life safe. With a mineral base that includes nourishing antioxidants and ingredients like coconut, avocado, and jojoba oil, SurfDurt's performance-driven formula offers UVA and UVB, broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection that's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Produced sustainably in San Diego, CA, SurfDurt is a safe sunscreen that does what it's supposed to do: protect your skin. But the real solution is you! By choosing a reef-safe sunscreen like SurfDurt, you can make a real difference in protecting our oceans and marine life.

zero waste sunscreen - surfdurt

Little Hands Hawaii

  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 35

  • Active ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide

Looking for a sunscreen that's safe for your family, the land, and the ocean? Look no further than Little Hands, Hawaii's original mineral sunscreen handmade by Hawaiians. This small family-run business takes pride in using organic and locally sourced ingredients that are packed with antioxidants and skin-nourishing oils and butters. With no chemicals or preservatives ever used, their zinc-based sunscreen rubs in beautifully and is effective for all skin types. What's more, Little Hands is reef and ocean safe, with no harmful chemicals entering the ocean to impact and kill marine life and coral reefs. Plus, all of their packaging are either compostable or recyclable, making them completely plastic-free. And with a portion of all sales going towards coral reef education and beach clean-ups, you can feel good about choosing Little Hands for your sun protection needs.

zero waste sunscreen - little hands hawaii

Raw Love

  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 35

  • Active ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide

If you're looking for an eco-conscious, environmentally-friendly sunscreen that checks all the boxes, Raw Love has got you covered. This sunscreen is not only SPF 35 and provides UVA-UVB protection, but it's also reef-safe and baby-safe, making it perfect for the whole family. Raw Love is proud to be plant-based and cruelty-free and their formula is completely free of toxic chemicals, parabens, PABA, preservatives, or synthetic fragrances. Plus, a little bit of this sunscreen goes a long way, so you can feel good about not wasting the product. Raw Love is even FDA-compliant and made in the USA, with distribution in Maui, Hawaii. If you want sunscreen made with love and aloha, look no further than Raw Love.

zero waste sunscreen - raw love


  • Packaging: Cardboard

  • SPF: 20

  • Active ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide

If you're looking for a sustainable and environmentally-friendly sunscreen option, you'll want to check out this amazing reef-safe sunscreen. Unlike traditional sunscreens, this product is made without any harmful chemicals and instead relies on a blend of natural ingredients like zinc oxide, beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter to create a barrier between your skin and the sun's harmful rays. Not only is this sunscreen better for the environment, but it also comes in zero-waste packaging, so you can feel good about using it up and tossing it back to the earth. With an SPF of 20+ (and the option to apply more for SPF 50+), this sunscreen provides visible protection you can count on. Plus, the more you apply, the more protection it provides!

zero waste sunscreen - zero


  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Non-nano uncoated zinc oxide 22%

Get ready to conquer your outdoor adventures without any worry of sun damage with Butterbean's water and sweat-resistant sunscreen, perfect for beach days, sporting events, and outdoor runs. Made with certified organic and fair-trade oils, this sunscreen is packed with antioxidant-rich protection to nourish your skin while non-GMO and gluten-free vitamin E nourishes it with goodness. Butterbean uses non-nano-sized particle Zinc Oxide above 100 nm, which has been scientifically proven to be very safe, and its quick and even coverage is due to the use of plant-derived Polyhydroxystearic Acid that stabilizes the sunscreen. Best of all, it's cruelty-free, reef safe, and biodegradable, so you can enjoy your outdoor activities without harming the planet or marine life.

zero waste sunscreen - butterbean


  • Packaging: Glass

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide

with a white cast or sticky feeling? Look no further than Thrive's latest sun protection offering! This non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen creates a physical barrier against harmful UV rays without relying on potentially harmful chemicals. And with a matte finish and upgraded formula that layers perfectly with your other skincare products, it's a great choice for daily use. But this sunscreen isn't just good for your skin - it's also good for the environment and the farmers who help produce its natural ingredients. So why not give it a try and see for yourself? With Thrive's 100% satisfaction guarantee, there's nothing to lose!

zero waste sunscreen - thrive


  • Packaging: Aluminum

  • SPF: 30

  • Active ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide

Looking for a sunscreen that not only provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB light rays but also nourishes your skin? Look no further than this natural sunscreen made with non-nano zinc oxide and a blend of all-natural organic food-safe ingredients. Not only does it keep your skin protected and deeply hydrated, but it also helps keep your skin young and healthy with a sun-kissed glow. And the benefits don't stop there - this natural sunscreen is Oxybenzone and Octinoxate free, making it safe for coral reefs and oceans. Plus, the beeswax creates a natural barrier that helps seal moisture into the skin, making it water-resistant and perfect for any outdoor activity, from surfing to skiing. The smooth and thick consistency won't sting or burn your eyes, and the chocolate-scented finish will leave you feeling delicious. Safe for adults, kids, and families, this sunscreen is made with simple, 100% natural, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and chemical-free ingredients. So not only are you treating your skin to the best possible care, but you're also investing in our earth's future. Choose EiR NYC for a premium natural skincare line that's pure, luxurious, and sustainable.

zero waste sunscreen - EiR

In conclusion, choosing a zero waste sunscreen is not only good for the planet but also good for your skin. By avoiding harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, you can protect yourself from skin damage and do your part to preserve our oceans and coral reefs. Plus, opting for natural and organic ingredients can provide added benefits like deep hydration and nourishment for your skin. Whether you're spending time at the beach or hitting the slopes, there are plenty of great options for zero waste sunscreens that can keep you protected and feeling great. So next time you're shopping for sunscreen, consider choosing a more sustainable and eco-friendly option - your skin and the planet will thank you!


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Meet Valinda

Hi there, I am the founder of the green and happy mom blog and green and happy shop. After battling severe depression, I am determined to make the world a little better and I want to take you along that journey with me. 

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