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16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens (2021)

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

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What are the best zero waste sunscreen products, and how to choose the best non-toxic one for you? 

There are plenty of brands that offer excellent zero waste sunscreen options that are great for both your skin and the environment. 

In this article, I will tell you everything you should know about zero waste sunscreens, including: 

  1. Why should you make the switch to zero waste sunscreen?
  2. Top 16 zero waste sunscreen options
  3. FAQ:
    – What makes sunscreen zero waste?
    – How to pick the best zero waste sunscreen?
    – Why are chemical sunscreens bad?
    – Where else to find zero waste sunscreens?
    – Can I make a DIY zero waste sunscreen?
  4. Conclusion

Why should you make the switch to zero waste sunscreen? (A brief look)

Protecting yourself from the sun should be non-negotiable.

You should always watch out for your skin’s health. 

However, commercial and mainstream sunscreens are horrible not just because of their wasteful plastic packaging. 

They are incredibly harmful to marine life and coral reefs, due to some of the chemical ingredients they include.

These chemicals aren’t good for your skin either. 

For example, oxybenzone and octinoxate (both of which are commonly used in sunscreens) can disturb hormones, and have moderate to high rates of skin allergies.

You can read more about that at the end, where I included an FAQ section.

When searching for a zero waste sunscreen, the most important thing for me is that the product is: 

  • Plastic-free (recyclable or biodegradable packaging)
  • Ethically made with organic or sustainably sourced ingredients 
  • Vegan & palm-oil free
  • Non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals
  • Reef-safe
  • A local brand (if possible) 

The zero waste sunscreens below cover most of these points.

While not all of them are perfect, they have various positive aspects. 

Without further ado, let’s begin with the list!

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

16 Best Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens:

From 1 – 11 → based in the US | 12 – 14 → based in Australia | 15 – 16 → based in Europe (worldwide shipping)

1. Butterbean Organics

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 1, 4 or 7 oz (28, 113, or 198g) 
  • Made in: the US
  • Protection: 30 SPF
  • Vegan: No, it contains beeswax
  • Verified sun protection factor: Yes. FDA-approved laboratory procedures
  • You can use the code ALMOSTZEROWASTE for 15% OFF
  • Find at Butterbean Organics (the US)
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

 Why this brand:

  • The main ingredients come from a local Big Island Organic Farm
  • Natural, organic & waterproof formula 
  • Vegan & Cruelty-free
  • The main ingredients come from a local Big Island Organic Farm
  • Natural, organic & waterproof formula 
  • Vegan & Cruelty-free
  • Safe for all ages

Butterbean Organics provides safe, effective, and convenient sun protection. 

Ingredients & Packaging:

Their original formula contains the highest percentage of Certified Organic and Fair Trade coconut oil and shea butter. 

The ingredients leave your skin smooth and sort without leaving an oily feel. 

What’s awesome about this product is that you have a couple of great options to choose from.

They offer one in a paper stick, the second in a metal bottle, and the third in a glass jar (with an aluminum cap). 

2. RAW ELEMENTS

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Raw Elements offers complete protection for up to 80 minutes.

It is water-resistant, reef-safe, and made from certified all-natural ingredients. 

The sunscreen is packed with active antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and extracts. 

The super gentle formula offers long-lasting sun protection.

The tin is plastic-free and 100% recyclable (or reusable!). 

Why this brand:

  • No fragrance, preservatives, or chemicals
  • Certified 1% for the Planet
  • Cruelty-free (never tested on animals) 
  • Baby & Kids option

3. All Good Sunscreen

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

All Good has certified organic & natural ingredients that protect your skin from the sun while being reef-friendly and water-resistant. 

The sunscreen formula is non-greasy, providing intense sun protection. 

It’s a little bit on the darker side (it is tinted), but it is supposed to work with most skin tones.

It comes in a recyclable or reusable metal tin. 

Why this brand:

  • Certified B Corp 
  • All Good is a 1% for the Planet Member 
  • All Good is Carbon Neutral Certified, meeting net-zero or better carbon emissions through measuring, offsetting, and reducing their carbon footprint
  • 80-minute water-resistant

4. Badger Sunscreen

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Badger sunscreens have no added scent and give you SPF 40 broad-spectrum protection

What I think it’s great about this sunscreen is that it contains just 4 simple, but effective ingredients.

The natural, mineral-based sunscreen provides up to 80 minutes of water and sweat resistant sun protection. 

Certified natural and non-toxic, the zero waste sunscreen comes in a recyclable or reusable plastic-free tin.

Why this brand:

  • Lightweight and moisturizing sunscreen 
  • Reef-friendly biodegradable formula
  • Badger is a certified B Corp
  • Protect Land + Sea Certified Sunscreen
  • 80-minutes water resistant 

5. RAW LOVE

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Raw Love is a zero waste broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains certified organic ingredients.

Raw Love was developed in 2015, and the main focus was to create a sustainable, reef-friendly, biodegradable, moisturizing mineral sunscreen. 

What stands out for me here is that the sunscreen is suitable for all ages – kids & babies included.

This sunscreen will protect your skin while protecting our oceans, too.   

The zero waste sunscreen comes in sustainable metal tin packaging. 

Why this brand:

  • Water-resistant 
  • Baby safe 
  • A little of the sunscreen goes a long way

6. ELEVATED SUN

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Elevated Sun is a natural and sustainable sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white film on the skin. 

The perfect non-greasy formula is ideal for the whole body, including the face & lips. 

For me, the best feature of this sunscreen is that it is vegan, while still being zero waste.

It is a combination that’s a bit rarer, since there are many great sunscreens (low waste & ethical), but contain animal-derived ingredients.

This one is 100% vegan & cruelty-free. 

It is recommended to be applied every 1-2 hours. 

Why this brand:

  • The products are FDA compliant and have been tested on human subjects 
  • Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection
  • Clean, ocean safe products 
  • Top rated by the Environmental Working Group
  • Water and sweat-resistant (up to 80 minutes) 

7. Apothecary Muse 

Specifications:

  • Size: 1 oz (28g) or 1.5 (42g)
  • Made in: the US (Pittsburg)
  • Protection: The brand does not list an SPF 
  • Vegan: Yes
  • Verified sun protection factor: No information
  • Find at Apothecary Muse (the US)
Zero Waste Sunscreens

Ingredients & Packaging:

Apothecary uses seed oil, candelilla wax, and aloe powder in most of its sunscreens.  

Cruelty-free and palm-oil-free guaranteed, this zero waste sunscreen offers you protection for up to two hours.

Their sunscreen comes in a compostable cardboard stick.

Apothecary Muse uses earth-friendly labels printed with wax-based ink. 

You can choose between – “During Activity”, “Everyday”, or “Gentle” for face.

Why this brand:

  • Variety of sizes and zero waste sunscreens depending on the activity and body part (insect repellent, during workouts, face or body, etc.)
  • Affordable 
  • The brand supports local suppliers and cultivates personal relationships with each 
  • Organic ingredients whenever possible

8. Surf Durt

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.5 oz (42.5g) 
  • Made in: California 
  • Protection: 30 SPF
  • Vegan: No, contains beeswax
  • Verified sun protection factor: The SPF factor is third party tested by AMA labs
  • You can use the code ALMOSTZERO15 for 15% OFF! 
  • Find at Surf Durt (the US)
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Made in California, the reef-safe sunscreen is an all-natural everyday essential, providing you with high-performance premium protection and up to 80 minutes of water resistance 

The brand uses certified organic ingredients such as cocoa butter, coconut oil, and jojoba oil. 

Rich in antioxidants and free of any harsh chemicals or pollutants, Surf Durt’s zero waste sunscreen contains sustainably sourced beeswax.

Why this brand:

  • Refill program; you can send back your old container and get 25% off your next order 
  • High dedication in finding the most ethical ingredients, even though this means paying a little extra 
  • Generous donation system for each order to various environmental and social causes
  • Beautiful tin and bamboo packaging that is easily reusable or up-cyclable at home
  • Surf Durf offers many tan & white versions

9. Little Hands Hawaii

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste


Ingredients & Packaging:

Created back in 2011, Rosalyn’s sunscreen is entirely plastic-free. 

All packaging is made with 100% recycled materials and labels with soy dye. 

Safe for children and the environment, this sunscreen is biodegradable, reef safe, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Ingredients-wise, the mixture is mainly composed of organic oils, beeswax, shea butter, and essential oils.

The zero waste sunscreen is available in both regular and tinted (tinted with iron oxide minerals). 

Why this brand:

  • Family-owned in Hawaii
  • Small production and locally prepared
  • Essential oils are natively grown and sourced

10. Life Guard Sunscreen 

Specifications:

  • Size: 4 oz or 8 oz (113 or 226g)
  • Made in: the US
  • Protection: Between 25-50 SPF
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

The Life Guard Organic Sunscreen uses organic ingredients, such as red raspberry seed oil, candelilla wax, and essential oils.

The sunscreen is easy to apply. It leaves no greasy residue – it just faintly lightens your skin tone a bit. 

This zero waste sunscreen is packed in a glass jar. 

Why this brand:  

  • It is a small, family-run business
  • They focus on using all-natural, non-chemically derived ingredients
  • They offer bigger sizes, that will last for much longer
  • They have an option that offers extra protection

11. Avasol Sunscreen

Specifications:

  • Size: 1 oz or 2.5 oz (28 or 70g)
  • Made in: the US
  • Protection: 30 or 50 SPF
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Avasol promises that its sunscreens are non-greasy, non-runny, and won’t irritate your skin.

Their zero waste sunscreens are hand-crafted in small batches.

They use ethically sourced, organic, nutrient-rich, and highly antioxidant raw ingredients.

You can choose between an aluminum pump bottle (designed for refills) or stick it in a paper tube. 

Why this brand:  

  • You have a couple of products to choose from, including refillable options
  • 100% bio-based product that’s been clinically and allergy-tested
  • No animal testing

12. Sunbutter Sunscreen

Specifications:

Size: 3.5 oz (100g)
Made in: Australia
Protection: 50 SPF
Vegan: Yes
Verified sun protection factor: Therapeutic Goods Administration approved and registered
Find at Sunbutter Oceans (Australia)

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste


Ingredients & Packaging:

Are you interested in stronger protection?

Then the Sunbutter natural sunscreen might be the one for you. 

What I love about this sunscreen (apart from the fact that it’s vegan) is that it offers higher broad-spectrum protection – up to 4 hours.

It is designed with our health and the planet in mind, and it is free from parabens or other nasties.

It is made with certified sustainable ingredients, and it comes in metal thin.  

Why this brand:

  • Made in a solar-powered factory
  • Suitable for sensitive or inflamed skin
  • Safe for all ages (baby-friendly!)
  • Gentle and reef-safe sunscreen formula
  • Cruelty-free & Vegan

13. Sun & Earth

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.7 oz (50g) 
  • Made in: Australia
  • Protection: 30 SPF
  • Vegan: No, it contains beeswax
  • Verified sun protection factor: Yes. Compliant with Australian sunscreen standards.  
  • Find at Zero Waste Store (Australia)
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste


Ingredients & Packaging:

Sun & Earth’s sunscreen acts as a physical barrier on the skin is water-resistant, making it an ideal option for outdoor activity. 

The zero waste sunscreen is made with cold-pressed, Fair Trade, certified organic oils, locally sourced beeswax, and zinc oxide.  

The Sun & Earth range includes three shades – Sandy Light, Sunny Tan, and Earthy Cocoa. 

If you have oily skin, maybe this sunscreen will feel quite greasy, so consider choosing another option. 

The packaging is a reusable steel tin.

Why this brand:  

  • Handmade in Byron Bay on solar power 
  • Broad-spectrum protection
  • Nourishing and anti-oxidative properties

14. Dirty Hippie

Specifications:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

This sunscreen contains a sun-blocking combo of all-natural, broad spectrum Zinc Oxide powder with organic, fair trade essential oils.

The zero waste sunscreen is extremely creamy and non-greasy.

It leaves almost no white film on the skin. 

My favorite aspect about this sunscreen is that it was developed especially for people with sensitive skin.

Why this brand  

  • Dirty Hippie has its recycling program, where they accept empties on all of our full-sized tin and bottle products from Australian residents
  • Their products are vegan & cruelty-free

15. SUN TRIBE

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.5 oz (45g) 
  • Made in: Sweden
  • Protection: 30 SPF
  • Vegan: No, it contains beeswax. However, they have a vegan option (20 SPF)
  • Verified sun protection factor: Yes (read all about it here)
  • Use almost0waste for a 10% discount on all products (except sales items) 
  • Find at Sun Tribe (worldwide)
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

Sun Tribe is made with just a couple of (organic) ingredients, like coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa powder, and zinc oxide. 

Non-nano zinc oxide in the plastic-free sunscreen with natural mineral filters is reef-safe and suitable for all skin types. 

The skin is shielded against sun damage and external influences.

This zero waste sunscreen is ideal for any outdoor activities or hiking. 

What I really like about this product is that they have a couple of options, including a vegan & non-comedogenic sunscreen, that won’t clog your pores. 

Their other 4 options are: Original White, Mud Tint if you prefer a less visible sunscreen, Ocean Blue, or Retro Red for some funky colors. 

Tin made from 56% recycled tin sheet and 100% paper label. 

Why this brand:

  • Suitable for children
  • Created by surf teachers, so it is designed and ideal for outdoor water sports
  • Choose between 4 options
  • Nanoparticles free & Free of toxic ingredients

16. Sol De Ibiza

Specifications:

  • Size: 40g or 100 ml (1.4 or 3.3 oz) 
  • Made in: the EU
  • Protection: 30 SPF and 50 SPF. Water Resistant 40 minutes 
  • Vegan: Yes
  • Verified sun protection factor: Yes
  • Find at Sol De Ibiza (worldwide)
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Ingredients & Packaging:

This vegan sunscreen is toxic-free, made with natural ingredients, and safe for sensitive skin.

My favorite aspect about this sunscreen is that all the ingredients are organically farmed.

Sol De Ibiza is made with a combination of vegetable-based oils, plant-based wax, and zinc oxide.

You can find a couple of options on their website – two of them are in a recyclable metal tin, and the other – in a paper tube.

Why this brand:  

  • 1% donated to Ibiza Preservation Foundation
  • No fragrances, preservatives, or harsh chemicals
  • AIAB Certified Organic
  • 1% for the Planet member
  • Suitable for kids

17. Bonus – After sun care:

While it is vital to take care of your skin and avoid sunburn, they can still happen.

That’s why I decided to add a couple of “After sun care” options. 

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

FAQ:

What makes sunscreen zero waste?

Zero waste isn’t about creating absolutely no waste (as this is kind of impossible in our current world).

Perhaps a great way to describe it would be – consuming responsibly and using products that cause the least amount of damage to the Earth.

So, sunscreen can be considered zero waste when:

1. It is packaged sustainably, like (recycled or sustainably sourced) glass, tins, cardboard, etc.

Packaging also includes shipping packets. 

While not all brands will ship with plastic-free & sustainable packaging, it’s always a good plus to choose brands that do so.

2. The raw materials were sourced organically and ethically (& are safe for our oceans).

This is where it gets tricky. The generation of waste in production is rarely ever talked about, which is an equally significant issue.

As such, it is best to choose products that source their products sustainably and organically.

That way, you can ensure that pesticides and generate no unnecessary toxic waste

other chemicals along the process.

For more information, read this article written by Laura from Puratium. They included further details on and additional tips on protecting your skin from the sun. 

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

How to pick the best zero waste sunscreen?

So, what makes a good zero waste sunscreen? 

For the best sun protection and low environmental impact, choose a sunscreen that is:

  • Broad-spectrum
  • Mineral
  • Reef-safe Lab-verified
  • SPF (& at least 30 SPF)

Let’s break each of those down in detail. 

Broad-spectrum

Broad-spectrum has everything to do with how you are protected from UV rays. 

There are different types of rays that the sun emits.

The most important to us are UVA and UVB rays since these are the only ones that can reach the Earth’s surface. 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 5% of the UV rays are UVB. The rest 95% are UVA rays. 

The UVS rays are the ones that cause sunburn.

Most conventional sunscreens offer up protection for this type of UV ray. 

On the other hand, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, cause photodamage, and speed up the effects of aging. 

Broad-spectrum sunscreen offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

That’s why it is essential to ensure that your sunscreen is broad spectrum. 

Otherwise, you’d be getting limited protection and expose yourself to many risks. 

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen

For a sunscreen to provide adequate protection from the sun, it needs to have an active filter. 

There are two broad classes of sunscreen when it comes to active ingredients or filters:

Chemical and mineral sunscreens. 

For reference, here are some common chemical filters (to avoid):

  • Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Cinoxate, Nanoparticle 

And here are the two available mineral filters (to look for)

  • Zinc Oxide (non-nano)
  • Titanium Dioxide

Chemical filters work by absorbing and transforming UV rays into heat. 

On the other hand, mineral filters act as physical barriers to the skin. 

Mineral sunscreen is generally considered the safer and more environmentally-friendly option. 

What’s the difference between nano and non-nano zinc oxide? 

Zinc is a powdered mineral that sits on top of the skin, to protect it from the sun.

Zinc oxide comes in two different forms; either nano or non-nano.

Any zinc oxide with a particle smaller than 100nm (nanometers) is considered a nanoparticle. Non-nano is anything larger than this.

There is a concern, that the nano-zinc oxide may absorb into the skin.

Some studies indicated that nanoparticles in large doses can harm living cells and organs.

Other studies have produced no evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles can cross the skin in significant amounts.

While it is a controversial topic, it is best to be on the safer side and to only use non-nano zinc oxide.

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Reef Safe

Reef-safe sunscreens are essential due to the issues surrounding chemical sunscreens and how they affect our coral reefs. 

It is estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enter our oceans annually

Unfortunately, those chemicals have a destructive effect on corals. 

Studies proved that certain active ingredients in chemical sunscreens have negatively affected the health of our coral reefs. 

The most notorious one is Oxybenzone – a chemical filter commonly found in many sunscreens. 

This study showed that exposure to oxybenzone interfered with the proper growth and development of young corals. 

High levels of chemical sunscreen in our oceans can lead to increased coral bleaching and abnormal growth levels. 

Sadly, there’s no regulation on reef-safe sunscreen, so checking the ingredients is incredibly important. 

Generally, most brands will call their sunscreens reef-safe or reef-friendly as long as they don’t contain Oxybenzone. 

However, that’s not entirely accurate. More and more studies are trying to show that most chemical filters are not safe in large amounts. 

While one person in the ocean may not make much of a difference, thousands of people wearing sunscreen will. 

As of the moment, the safest filters are non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. And to a higher degree, zinc oxide is preferable. 

If you want an entirely reef-safe sunscreen, your best choice is non-nano zinc oxide. 

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Verified Sun Protection Factor

SPF or Sun Protection Factor indicates the amount of extra time you have before your skin starts to burn. 

For example, a sunscreen with SPF 30 will protect your skin, and it will take 30x longer for your skin to burn than it would without any sun protection. 

It is essential that you use sunscreen with SPF that’s verified by third-party laboratories. 

This step ensures that you are using sunscreen that can protect you adequately from the sun. 

Furthermore, use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 for optimum protection.

That number should give you around 97% protection from UV rays. 

The higher the SPF, the better it is for your skin.

Whichever SPF you take, it is recommended to apply the sunscreen every 2– 3 hours.

Why are chemical sunscreens bad?

Chemical sunscreen is harmful because they:

  • Bleach and kill coral reef
  • Impairs growth of algae
  • Give congenital disabilities to mussels
  • Accumulates in dolphins, and transfers to their young
  • Gives unnatural characteristics to fish and harms their reproductive systems
  • Damages the reproductive systems of sea urchins
  • There are concerns that it may cause hormone disruption in people
  • Some chemical ingredients have moderate to high rates of skin allergies
  • Seeps into your bloodstream in a couple of seconds
Source: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/sunscreen-corals.html 
16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Where else to buy zero waste sunscreens?

Try to find something local.

It will lessen the amount of carbon footprint it takes to get to you. 

Plus, there will be less packaging involved, and it allows you to support your local businesses. 

If you don’t have this option, buy from companies that use sustainable shipping practices, too. 

For example, my first zero waste sunscreen was a product that’s I found locally:

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

Can I make a DIY zero waste sunscreen?

Yes! While you will not be able to calculate the exact SPF, you can create your own DIY zero waste sunscreen.

All you need is a couple of good active ingredients that have natural UV blocking abilities. 

Such ingredients are:

  • Red raspberry seed oilProvides between 28-50 SPF protection factor against UVB rays and 6.75-7.5 SPF against UVA rays.
  • Shea butterSPF 3-4. Moisturizing and solid at room temperature. In contact with skin, it melts, making it an excellent base for lotions.
  • Coconut oil SPF 7.1
  • Olive oilSPF 7.5
  • Almond oilSPF 4.6  
  • Zinc oxide (non-nano) – SPF 2-20 depending on how much is used. Zinc oxide is a physical blocker that works by reflecting / scattering UV light.

To make a DIY zero waste sunscreen, you will need to combine some of these ingredients.

You can watch the video below and see how to make it.

Soon, I will also make a video and DIY guide with much more details, so stay tuned for that!

Video from Our Oily House:
DIY Sunscreen | SAFE FOR BABIES | All Natural Sun Protection

Conclusion 

There you have it, folks – a bunch of fantastic zero waste sunscreen options & tips on how to choose the one for you.

Remember that it is imperative to protect your skin. 

While finding the perfect zero waste sunscreen can take some trial and error, remember that it is worth it. 

For your skin, for animals and wildlife, and our oceans. 

16 Non-Toxic & Zero Waste Sunscreens - Almost Zero Waste

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