Best Eco Friendly Sunscreens 2024

May 25, 2021 (updated May 10, 2023) — Written by

We know what to consider when trying to find a sunscreen that will work to nourish and protect our skin. But what are some things to consider when shopping for eco-friendly sunscreen? We’re putting packaging, ingredients and environmental impact on main street to help you make the best SPF decisions with the least amount of environmental impact.

The best eco friendly sunscreens graphic

What makes a sunscreen “eco friendly”? 

There are several things to consider when it comes to finding an “eco friendly” sunscreen. Since a majority of SPFs on the market are packaged in plastic, one of the most obvious considerations is SPF packaging. 

SPF packaging considerations

I wish responsible packaging decision-making was as easy as following the “choose glass over plastic” rule, but it’s not. Plastic is still typically the easiest method of deliverability and it’s what most brands choose to use. Here are some things to consider when buying: 

  • Is the packaging made from recycled materials?
  • Is the packaging recyclable?  

For example, one of the hottest trends right now is using ocean plastic to create plastic packaging. This is fantastic because it’s cleaning up our oceans and it’s not creating any new plastic….or is it?

Plastic has a recycling limit meaning there are only a certain number of times you can recycle, reuse and rebuild with the same piece of plastic. Packaging made with 100% post consumer plastic (PCR) can typically no longer be recycled, whereas something made with 50% PCR typically can. 

So you can look at this one of two ways. Either, it’s better to use 100% PCR because it takes the onus off the consumer to find an appropriate way to recycle it. Or it’s better to use something like 50% PCR and 50% virgin plastic because now it’s possible to recycle that packaging again. 

Additionally, a big part of the recycling onus is on consumers—roll up your sleeves girl! To ensure recyclable plastics have a chance at actually being recycled, remove any parts that are not recyclable (like pumps) and wipe sunscreen containers clean (yes, this means cut the plastic open and wipe out residual product). 

But beyond this, most of the time, the bigger question is, does your local waste management operation have the capacity to recycle what can be recycled? It doesn’t matter how recyclable plastic packaging is if your town does not have the capacity to recycle it. You can always call your local waste management company to inquire.  

That being said, we’ve seen some pretty cool workarounds to counter like: 

For tough-to-recycle items, some brands have a send-back program where you can ship empires back and/or choose to partner with initiatives like TerraCycle who have the capacity to recycle items that typically can not be recycled. 

And we’ve also seen some brands forgo plastic all together like EIR or Raw Elements, who both offer plastic-free + zero waste product lines. 

RELATED: The Best Mineral Sunscreens.

Additional eco friendly SPF considerations

After packaging, we can look at production, shipping, giving back and ingredients. There are several things to consider when it comes to choosing an SPF as far as ingredients go. We deep dive into all of that here. BUT when it comes to looking at SPF ingredients through the lens of environmental impact, here are a few additional things to consider. 

Then we can also consider additional ways to reduce environmental impact like: 

  • Is the formula made in the USA? Local production can lower the overall carbon footprint of a product. 
  • And (although not feasible for all companies, especially start-ups) consumers can also check to see if a company is B Corp Certified, which legally requires them to consider their impact on the environment, among other things. 

Now, I’m not saying brands need to do all of these things to be considered “eco friendly.” What I’m saying is that these are some things to consider when you are standing in the sunscreen aisle of Target like 🤔.

Here are a few mineral, eco friendly sunscreen brands that are on our radar…

RELATED: How to read sunscreen labels like a champ and my summer quarterly faves.

Best eco friendly sunscreen brands

What eco friendly sunscreen brand is your go-to?

RELATED: Read my picks for the best sustainable swimwear, the best hair sunscreens and the best sunless tanners.

xo, lisa in cursive

TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!

1 Comment

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    I really like All Good’s sunscreen in the tins.

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