Ever try telling a dermatologist that you skip sun protection? You’ll be looked at like you’ve just asked a hairdresser for Donald Trump’s new look. It’s no wonder that just about every interview with a celebrity eventually leads to them crediting – you guessed it – SPF for their clear, wrinkle-free complexions. And we follow suit, slathering on the stuff without giving it a second thought. Until now.
It’s estimated that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen washes off us and ends up in our oceans every year, disrupting coral endocrine systems and killing baby coral. It also causes damage to coral DNA, preventing it from reproducing and bleaching existing coral. The knock-on effect of this is devastating, as our marine life and entire aquatic ecosystem depends on coral reefs.
In May 2018, Hawaii announced a ban of sunscreens that contain chemicals believed to contribute to coral bleaching when they wash off into the sea. The Republic of Palau announced the same ban six months later and, in February 2019, the city of Key West followed suit. “Most brands on sale contain two filters that damage and cause the beaching of coral: oxybenzone and octinoxate. These ingredients are cheap and effective, but they have an impact on the marine ecosystem,” explains Mathilde Thomas, founder of Caudalie.
The problem is that these nasties can be found in over 3,500 brands of sunscreen – but the good news? There are more and more brands choosing to shun them in favor of ocean-friendly formulas. “For my new suncare range, I didn’t want to compromise between protecting the skin and protecting nature,” says Thomas. “Caudalie selected four filters, compared to the nine that brands usually use in suncare products. These filters, combined together to work in synergy, are formulated at a lower dosage than the market average and provide maximum SPF protection.”
It’s not just the oceans being harmed by these chemicals, it’s our skin, too. Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of luxury natural skincare brand, Shiffa Dubai, argues for avoiding chemicals in our cosmetics, especially now that we are subject to them in all aspects of our lives. “In a world where most things are packaged and chemical, why shouldn’t our skincare be natural? The skin absorbs what is put on it,” she says.
She also believes that avoiding chemical ingredients allows our bodies to function better, stating that natural ingredients get absorbed better and therefore work better to give more effective results. “More importantly, they’re excreted easier by your body, so there’s no heavy build-up internally and no overloading your liver and kidneys,” she explains. And that’s why Savoir Flair has curated this edit of the best reef-safe SPFs that will protect both your skin and our oceans. This one’s a no-brainer, really.
Ren 'Clean Screen Mineral SPF30'
Made with 99 percent natural ingredients, this vegan-friendly face SPF protects against UVA and UVB rays as well as shielding skin from the harmful blue light emitted from our phones and computers. It also soothes, helps mattify oily skin, provides antioxidant protection, tackles pigmentation, and prevents aging thanks to zinc oxide, yellow passion fruit seed extract, and rice starch.
Ren ‘Clean Screen Mineral SPF30’
Soleil Toujours 'Mineral Sunscreen SPF30'
Protecting skin with 100 percent mineral UV filters, this reef-friendly SPF shuns chemicals in favor of natural ingredients such as zinc oxide, aloe-leaf juice, and red algae, as well as green tea and mugwort extracts. These work to target signs of aging and lack of firmness, in addition to reducing redness and irritation and, of course, warding off harmful rays.
Soleil Toujours ‘Mineral Sunscreen SPF30’
Green People 'Edelweiss Sun Lotion SPF15'
Green People’s range, which contains a minimum of 80 percent organic ingredients, includes plant-derived green tea, rosemary, and edelweiss to stimulate collagen production and soothe sensitive skin. Titanium dioxide and a compound found in the leaves of the cinnamon tree protects skin from UV radiation, while a natural tan accelerator helps you tan up to 28 percent faster. Win-win!
Green People ‘Edelweiss Sun Lotion SPF15’
Caudalie 'Milky Sun Spray SPF50'
Boasting the anti-aging and skincare benefits of Caudalie products, this two-in-one SPF spray can be used on the face and body to keep you safe in the sun. Its light, milky formula is enriched with organic grape water to soothe and moisturize, while notes of frangipani flowers leave you smelling sublime. Plus, its non-toxic, highly biodegradable formula keeps the marine ecosystem and your skin happy.
Caudalie ‘Milky Sun Spray SPF50’
Uriage 'Bariésun Cream SPF50+'
Perfect for those who suffer from heat rash or redness, this gentle and hypoallergenic SPF is enriched with soothing and hydrating thermal water to look after skin from the inside out. Its photostable formula is quickly absorbed and protects for hours, all without harsh ocean-harming chemicals.
Uriage ‘Bariésun Cream SPF50+’
Dermalogica 'Prisma Protect SPF30'
This clever SPF uses light-activated technology to boost skin’s luminosity while protecting it in the sun, giving you a gorgeous glow both on and off the sand. It’s also packed with antioxidants to protect against pollution and free radical damage, and bio-ferment from sage to help you maintain an even skin tone.
Dermalogica ‘Prisma Protect SPF30’