Best Snorkeling Sunscreen

Author: Kristen Chandler

Do you enjoy snorkeling, or are you planning to try snorkeling soon? As opposed to scuba diving, when snorkeling your body isn’t completely submerged underwater. You stay closer to the surface. Therefore, you will need to be sure that you are protected from the sun’s harmful rays by using sunscreen. However, many of the popular brands of sunscreen contain chemicals that are not only harmful to your health but are dangerous to marine life and the water as well. These chemicals can cause coral bleaching, and some of them can even kill coral reefs and fish. Hawaii has prohibited the use of sunscreens containing some of these chemicals. Keep reading to find out what you need to look for in a snorkeling sunscreen, what to avoid, and the best snorkeling sunscreens that you should use!

Snorkeling Sunscreen Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t use sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate. These are the main chemicals that are attributed to coral bleaching and are banned in Hawaii.
  • Don’t use sunscreen that contains petrolatum, or mineral oil. It takes a while to decompose, meaning it stays in the water and can be dangerous to sea life.
  • Don’t use sunscreen that contains a lot of Titanium dioxide. If you do use a sunscreen containing titanium dioxide, make sure it is non-nano.
  • Don’t use sunscreen that contains any of the following chemicals: butylparaben, triclosan, PABA, octocrylene or 4-methyl benzylidene camphor.
  • Don’t use an aerosol spray sunscreen. You can’t see if you applied it evenly and aerosol sprays also contain chemicals that you breathe in during application, then breathe out into the environment.
  • Do try to find a sunscreen that lists non-nano zinc oxide as its top ingredient.
  • Do use a paraben-free sunscreen.
  • Do use a physical (mineral) sunscreen in place of a chemical-based one. Chemical-based sunscreens soak into the skin, and in turn, your skin absorbs the sun’s harmful UV rays. Physical sunscreens, or those that use zinc oxide, are not absorbed by the skin. Zinc oxide stays on the skin surface and reflects UV rays, keeping you from getting burned.
  • Do use a water-resistant sunscreen. No sunscreen is completely water or sweatproof, and manufacturers are no longer allowed to advertise this on the sunscreen label. Water-resistant sunscreens are your best bet. Less of these will wash off your body into the water. However, as it washes off, it leaves your skin prone to sunburn as well. So, you want to choose a sunscreen with the highest water-resistant label. The maximum amount of water resistance that the FDA permits sunscreen labels to advertise is 80 minutes. Therefore, you will need to reapply the sunscreen every 80 minutes.
  • Do apply sunscreen to your skin at least fifteen minutes before you go into the water, and let it dry completely. Doing so will help prevent it from washing off so quickly.
  • Do use a smaller quantity of mineral sunscreen than what you would typically use. Put on small amounts and rub to blend it in. A little bit of these sunscreens go a long way!
  • Don’t store sunscreen in hot places like your car or garage. The heat can destroy the protective ingredients.
  • Do refrigerate natural and biodegradable sunscreens when you’re not using them to help extend their shelf life.
  • Do smell your sunscreen before using it if it’s been a while since you last used it. If it has a rancid smell, don’t use it!
  • Do try to buy all-natural sunscreens straight from their manufacturer to ensure that the sunscreen hasn’t been stored on a shelf for a long time.

Try These Sunscreens for Snorkeling

Below, in no order, you will find a list of the best snorkeling sunscreens. These have the safest ingredients for both people and the environment. They are also snorkeler tested and approved.

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

Thinksport Sunscreen doesn’t contain avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, parabens, UV chemical absorbers, or reef harming chemicals. This sunscreen offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This sunscreen is also gluten-free, vegan, and not tested on animals. The active ingredient is 20 percent non-nano zinc oxide. It is non-oily and goes on smoothly.

Badger Sport Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Cream SPF 35

Badger Sunscreen is free from artificial fragrances and chemicals including paraben, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and GMOs. There are only five ingredients in this sunscreen! The active ingredient is non-nano mineral zinc oxide. Other ingredients are organic sunflower oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, and Vitamin E. It is 98 percent certified organic and 100 percent natural. The sunscreen is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. There are no artificial fragrances. However, the sunscreen does smell a little like sunflower oil.

RAW Elements Face + Body SPF 30

RAW Elements sunscreen does not contain oxybenzone or GMOs. It is biodegradable and reef safe. This sunscreen is not tested on animals, is soy, gluten and nut-free, and certified by the Natural Products Association. It also provides broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. The active ingredient in this sunscreen is 23 percent non-nano zinc oxide. Other inactive ingredients that are USDA certified organic and certified natural include black and green tea, sunflower oil, hemp seed oil, beeswax, vitamin E, and rosemary oil extract. It smells like sunflower oil and is water-resistant for 80 minutes. The sunscreen is a little oily but applies and spreads easily. It does dry slightly white.

Stream2Sea SPF 20 & 30

Stream2Sea sunscreen does not contain oxybenzone. It does include certified organic ingredients, with the active ingredient being non-nano titanium dioxide. It also contains the antioxidants green tea, tulsi, wakame, and olive leaf. The SPF 20 contains 6.6 percent titanium dioxide, and the SPF 30 contains 8.8 percent. This sunscreen has shown water resistance for more than 80 minutes. Stream2Sea goes on easily and is not oily. It is not as thick as other mineral sunscreens. It goes on white but rubbing it in while you are applying it helps it to dry less white. The SPF 30 is whiter, and once you have been in the water, it will dry very white on your skin. The Stream2Sea sunscreen is very water-resistant but will come off with soap and water. The company does make a tinted sunscreen in SPF 20 and 30 that is less white and more skin toned. However, the tint is made from natural pigments so while it may not make your skin look white, it might stain your clothes.