Whether you enjoy spending time working in your garden or having long family beach days, you might be concerned about how the sun will impact your skin over the long term, so it's important to use safe suncare products and select the best zero waste sunscreens.
We created an amazing list of sustainable sunscreen brands for you but first, let’s show you how to choose a zero waste sunscreen.
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Why choose a zero waste sunscreen?
Finding a zero waste sunscreen is really easy. Of course, the higher the SPF ( how well a sunscreen protects you from the sun), the stronger the concentrations of these sunscreens will be. However, SPF only applies to UVB rays “burning rays”, it’s imperative to choose a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the label, as this indicates the product helps protect the skin from UVA rays “aging rays” as well. One thing to also keep in mind is that having overexposure to both UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin cancer in all skin types and ethnicities. This is why it’s essential for you to use a broad-spectrum sun protection product that can help protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays.
The Environmental Working Group recommends consumers avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone. Octinoxate is an organic UV filter. It is readily absorbed into the skin and continues to be absorbed after the sunscreen has been applied. It has been found in blood 16 times above the proposed FDA safety threshold. If you use sunscreen that has hormonally-active ingredients like oxybenzone, it can cause hormonal skin darkening.
Sunscreens made with mineral active ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, generally score well in EWG’s ratings, because they provide strong sun protection with few health concerns and don’t break down readily in the sun. Manufacturers often use nanosized versions of these minerals – materials measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter – to increase clarity and SPF.
How we choose zero waste sunscreen
As we shop for any zero waste sunscreen we first look for clean beauty brands that account for the health and environmental concerns associated with beauty products.
For that reason, we came up with clean beauty criteria for you to check off as you shop:
- Is the item available locally? Is it being shipped to you from another country?
- Is it made with natural or certified organic ingredients?
- Is it vegan or cruelty-free?
- Does it contain palm oil?
- How and where are the ingredients sourced?
- What kind of packaging does the item come in? Can it be reused, recycled, or composted?
These criteria are meant to help you and it lets you know how we choose brands to be featured on The Eco Hub, to make it easier for you.
Top Pick For Zero Waste Sunscreen In Canada
Badger is a leader in natural, effective sunscreens and is safe for both people and the planet. They offer a variety of consciously crafted products, starting from zero waste sunscreen lip balms to plastic-free sunscreens.
The zero waste SPF 50 sunscreen is antioxidant-rich, waterless formula with Vitamin E that leaves skin moisturized and protected. It also has one of the highest percentages of zinc oxide allowed by the FDA. The Badger SPF 50 Sport Mineral Sunscreen Cream includes other ingredients such as organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, sunflower vitamin E.
The sunscreen lip balm is the nourishing goodness of cocoa, shea, and vitamin E, plus has anti-aging benefits. They don’t use any palm oil for any of their products.
Badger has partnered with farms around the world to source organic, sustainably grown ingredients. They strive to protect the land and are sea Certified, making it safe for you and the planet. All products are packaged in an infinitely recyclable tin, cruelty-free, and made with solar power.
The Body Deli is well-known for its fresh, raw, organic skin and hair care. Offering a variety of natural products which are made by hand every day.
They carry a popular solar day cream that acts more like sun protection and moisturizer combined. It contains zinc oxide, plus vitamin C, CoQ10, tocotrienols, and pumpkin seed oil to nourish your skin with vitamins and antioxidants. This combo provides natural sun protection given by micronized zinc oxide which is equivalent to SPF15. Their lip balm is also very practical to use when taking extreme hikes, or long beach walks. The SPF 30 High-Performance Sun Stick provides clear broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection from the sun's harmful rays with its all-natural buttery ingredients such as organic sunflower oil, beeswax, coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, vitamin E, and more.
They also source their essential oils and ingredients from sustainable farms all over the world and follow cruelty-free standards.
Cocoon Apothecary is a botanical skincare company based in Kitchener, Ontario. They make skin and body care products that are as good for your skin as they are for the Earth. All products are clean beauty and focus on both babies', adults’ health and wellness.
Some of our favorites are their facial creams and the reflector SPF 30 facial sun protection which is mineral and contains all-natural ingredients with no use of palm oil. It has zinc and titanium that act like tiny mirrors that reflect sun rays off your face rather than creating a chemical reaction on your skin. This non-greasy formula goes on easily and doubles as a light moisturizer. I have used this sustainable sunscreen and I love it, it's not greasy at all and it goes on under my makeup perfectly. They also make one of my favorite natural and organic moisturizers and all-natural face wash.
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Attitude Living is online and in-store with a wide variety of hair care, natural hand soaps, plastic-free sunscreens, natural deodorants to select from. If you live in Canada you may find them at your nearby pharmacy. Fun fact! They even have a great selection of baby care and pet care products.
Attitude’s Plastic Free Mineral Sunscreen Stick is fully natural, efficient, and comes in an innovative biodegradable cardboard tube to reduce single-use plastic! This mineral sunscreen forms a physical barrier that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
As part of their commitment to lighten their environmental footprint, all of their products are recyclable and reusable as well. They encourage reuse by offering bulk eco-refills (like their cleaning products), and package orders in recycled and recyclable materials, filled with biodegradable and compostable starch packing peanuts. This zero waste sunscreen is PETA Certified, vegan, cruelty-free, and reef-friendly. I have used this sunscreen and I absolutely love it! It's very light, leaves no residue, and is great for the summer and winter months.
Top Pick For Zero Waste Sunscreen In the USA
This sustainable brand believes in using safer products thus all the ingredients are organic and from ethical and sustainable sources. Some of the ingredients used are coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, non-nano zinc oxide, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, and beeswax removing palm oil completely.
All the products they carry are completely cruelty-free starting from their all-natural zero waste toothpaste, body butter, and all-natural laundry soap. They carry the best zero waste sunscreen made from organic shea butter and coconut oil as a base and after adding non-nano zinc oxide it has SPF 45+.
Choose between reusable glass jars or compostable cardboard sticks for your packaging. They also have a thinner sunscreen that comes in a BPA-free plastic squeeze bottle which, while recyclable, is best avoided. Remaining plastic-free may cost a bit more but it’s a cost they’re willing to cover. They still find it in their budget to donate to animal welfare causes and organizations fighting California wildfires and leukemia.
Raw Element focuses on carrying a super gentle formula and offers 80 minutes of complete sun protection. It is packed with active antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and extracts. All zero waste sunscreens are water-resistant, reef-safe, and made from certified natural ingredients.
Reef Safe & Plastic-Free Sunscreen SPF 30+ has great reviews and contains no palm oil, no fragrances, preservatives, or chemicals. The main ingredients include sunflower oil, green tea, black tea, hemp seed oil, mango butter, vitamin E. It is cruelty-free as it contains beeswax and is very gentle on the skin which is perfect for kids.
They also are so focused on plastic-free packaging including the tin formula is stored in which is 100% recyclable.
A healing and soothing skincare and cosmetic sustainable beauty brand with all-natural, ethically sourced, non-GMO, cruelty-free, alcohol-free, palm oil-free (including derivatives), and preservative-free.
Ultimately, they use food grade and USDA certified Organic ingredients when possible.
It's why I love their plastic-free sunscreen which is made with organic ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter that will provide maximum sun protection, moisturize and hydrate your dry skin all at the same time. Not to mention the zero waste sunscreen is mixed with the max ratio of zinc oxide.
Some products do contain non-vegan emu oil and beeswax but they offer plenty of vegan options and support ethical beekeeping by donating to WSU bee research projects. Bee You Organics supports small businesses, various local charities, and is beginning to employ economically disadvantaged women as they grow and need more hands-on deck.
All zero waste products are shipped 100% plastic-free and the shipping label is compostable and/or recyclable.
We love All Good starting from their natural ingredients and their commitment to the planet. For example, comfrey, known for rapid healing, is a popular ingredient found in lip balms and sunscreens. One of the best zero waste sunscreens - All Good Sport Sunscreen is made of 6 natural ingredients including zinc oxide. It is SPF 50+ and provides broad-spectrum protection.
They are not only a woman-owned certified B-Corp, but Leaping Bunny and PETA certified cruelty-free (they don’t sell into China), Green America approved, and a member of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Also, members of 1% for the Planet, 1% of their profits are donated to either Save our Snow and United Plant Savers.
While they do not use palm oil directly, they could not confirm if their ingredients are free of all derivatives: “If palm oil extracts or derivatives are ever used in our products, it would be palm oil in alignment with Palm Done Right standards.”
Most people purchase online through Life Without Plastic where all products are made from non-plastic materials, mainly wood, ceramic, glass, stainless steel, and silicone, and free of industrial additives. The zero waste online store carries plastic-free essentials for adults and kids, wholesale and home, and zero waste living products.
Butterbean is a mama-owned business located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
The ingredients used for the products are all-natural and come from a local big organic farm. It leaves your skin so smooth and without having an oily feel.
This sustainable sunscreen brand in particular has the highest percentage of Certified Organic and Fair Trade coconut oil and shea butter. They use non-nano zinc oxide that has been tested to be a safe particle size and omit palm oil from their ingredients. The fragrance is derived entirely from these virgin oils and butter. They get the beeswax from a local apiary that adds a touch of sweetness that many rave about.
With so many options to choose from such as one in a paper stick, the second in a metal bottle, and the third in a glass jar with an aluminum cap.
Surfdurt’s natural sunscreen actually does what it's supposed to. It is a sunscreen created with surfers in mind by using a chemical and toxin-free formula that’s effective for 80 minutes of use in the water and an SPF 30 broad-spectrum protection.
This zero waste sunscreen is not vegan but cruelty-free as it does contain beeswax sustainably sourced in West Africa from a program vetted by the third-party Koster Keunen agency. It's produced in the USA using 100% solar-powered technology!
Most of the ingredients, including cocoa butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, carrot seed oil, and raspberry seed oil, are certified organic. They don’t add any scents to the sunscreen’s formula but many have said that it does smell like cookies. Not to mention that they totally win the award for most stylish packaging. Their aluminum-lined reusable bamboo pots are so neat and we can think of so many ways to reuse them.
They also give back to a different non-profit with every purchase and they support everything from coral reef restoration to surf therapy for underserved children of color. Reminding us of something important: “We just make the formula. You are the solution.”
Meow Meow Tweet has a variety of hand-made products from natural bar soaps to zero waste deodorants. They create pure, all-natural, plant and mineral-based products designed to not clog the pores.
One of the best zero waste vegan sunscreens has a gentle floral scent and a thick and silky texture for the face and body. It is reed-safe and contains non-nano zinc oxide.
Apart from being cruelty-free, they focus on reducing the amount of waste by using packaging that is naturally broken down and creating circular systems of reuse that eliminate waste entirely. For example, the aluminum bottle you can soak in water to remove the label, then it's ready to be refilled, repurpose, or recycled.
Every month they choose an organization to give back which they prioritize on small, mutual-aid, grassroots-focused, BIPOC, and queer-led organizations that align with their values through their work.
Final Thoughts on zero waste sunscreen
Protecting yourself from the sun should be a priority. You should always watch out for your skin’s health. Something to keep in mind is that commercial and mainstream sunscreens are horrible but not only because of their wasteful plastic packaging. They are incredibly harmful to your skin and the major damage it does to marine life and coral reefs.
By selecting one of the sustainable sunscreens listed above, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re protecting your skin and the environment and your zero waste bathroom will never look better.
Finally, continue doing your research, and ask lots of questions while finding the perfect zero waste sunscreen because it may take some trial and error, but remember that it is worth it. For your skin, for animals and wildlife, and for our oceans.
What's your favorite zero waste sunscreen? Please share with us the brand in the comments section.
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