A suitable snorkel sunscreen requires different features than your average sunscreen. When you are floating on the water you get not only the rays of the hot sun beating down on you, but also the reflection. The sun bounces off the water to provide even more sun exposure. This leads to the dangers of you getting burnt double as fast. To combat this you need the best sunscreen for snorkeling.

As you are going into the ocean and swimming close up to many coral reefs and fish, it is important to get a chemical-free, biodegradable sunscreen. Many snorkel sunscreens contain chemicals that are not only harmful to your skin but can be toxic to sea life. Many countries have banned sunscreens that contain chemicals that can leach into the water. It is important to ensure that you are getting high-quality, safe sunscreen.

There are many features to look for when deciding the best choice for you as well as many options on the market. The SPF factor gives you a measure of protection. The higher the number, the fewer UV rays will penetrate your skin. Also, as you are in the water, you should consider how long a product is considered water-resistant. To help you navigate your way through, we have created a list of the best snorkeling sunscreens on today’s market.

How To Choose A Reef Safe Sunscreen – Buying Guide


There are many aspects of snorkeling sunscreen that people take for granted. Understanding each feature can help you get the right sunscreen for you and your family.

SPF Strength

The whole reason you are using snorkeling sunscreen is to keep from getting burnt. Having sunscreen with a suitable SPF will do just that. The strength you choose largely depends on your skin type and your susceptibility to burns. Typically you will find snorkeling sunscreens around 30 SPF.

Using an SPF greater than 30 doesn’t block as much sun as you may think. SPF 50 (98%) only blocks 1% more rays than SPF 30 (97%). SPF 100 blocks up to 99% of rays making it one of the best options for those with incredibly fair skin.

It is important to keep in mind that SPF only blocks UVB rays. These are the ones that cause burns. It doesn’t, however, block UVA rays, the rays that cause invisible damage. Some broad-spectrum sunscreens block against both so it is important to look for a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.

Water Resistance

You may be thinking you need to go with a snorkeling sunscreen that is waterproof instead of water-resistant. US companies are no longer allowed to claim any sunscreen to be waterproof. That is why it is important to look for water-resistant snorkeling sunscreen. You may not know that these products are only water-resistant for a certain amount of time. The FDA only allows a company to claim water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This is the type of sunscreen you will want to look for.


When first applying your snorkel sunscreen it is important to let it dry for at least 15 minutes before hitting the water. Otherwise, you risk the sunscreen washing off the moment you hit the water. You will also have to reapply your snorkel sunscreen at least every two hours to maintain constant protection.

It is important to fully understand the proper application techniques when applying your sunscreen. Pay attention to what you do after you apply your sunscreen. Sitting on a seat can rub the sunscreen off you, laying on a towel does the same. It is often best to apply snorkel sunscreen to one side of you, wait the 10-15 minutes and then flip to the other and apply.

When snorkeling in the water, we recommend paying attention to any sunscreen you apply to your face. This can often lead to your mask not sealing properly and you having a far less enjoyable time snorkeling.

Reef Friendly

As you are going to be swimming with sensitive coral reefs and many fish and animals, it is important to take into account getting a natural reef-safe snorkeling sunscreen. Lots of major brands use chemicals like Oxybenzone, a chemical that is known to be toxic to fish and coral.

Many snorkeling sunscreens now come in chemical-free options that are approved to be gentle on the reef, and your skin.

It is important to note that just because sunscreen is biodegradable, does not mean it is chemical-free. Many toxic chemicals, such as Oxybenzone, are biodegradable. Some chemicals are fine for you until they biodegrade and are then toxic to marine life.



Q: What is Reef Safe Sunscreen?


When you go snorkeling, you need to think about the sunscreen which you wear in the water. Regular sunscreen is fine on dry land as it is only on your body, but you need to think about life in the water when you are snorkeling or scuba diving. Regular sunscreens can be harmful to the creatures under the water, and reefs too. Some sunscreens are better than others, but dedicated snorkeling and scuba sunscreens are the best. They are specially formulated to be safer for underwater use. Here are some things to look out for when you are choosing your sunscreen.

To ensure that you have sunscreen which is best for life underwater, you should look for non-nano zinc oxide. The ingredients which you want to avoid are oxybenzone and octinoxate. These ingredients can be harmful to coral reefs. Look for packaging which states that the sunscreen is oxybenzone-free. You should also avoid butylparaben, PABA, and 4-methyl benzylidene camphor. Look for paraben-free sunscreen.

When you are looking at sunscreens, you should always try to choose water-resistant sunscreens. The fewer chemicals which can wash off of your skin in the water, the better. The best thing to look for is a reef or coral-friendly sunscreen. If you are ever in doubt, then you can find a recipe online to make your reef-safe sunscreen. No sunscreen is 100% safe for the reefs underwater, but you can take steps to limit your presence under the water.

Q: What Makes Sunscreens Biodegradable?


We love to recycle. After we are done with our sunscreen, we like to recycle the bottle, but when we talk about biodegradable sunscreen, we are talking about the sunscreen itself. Many sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients which will not break down over time. When sunscreen is absorbed into the water or anything, the ingredients cannot break down. When you are buying sunscreen, you should look for organic ingredients which will break down in water or soil.

Instead of using classic synthetic chemicals, many companies are now turning to aloe vera, green tea, seaweed, and olive leaf as alternatives. If your sunscreen is made from organic material, then it can break down in the water without having the chance to damage the life under the water. The more organic matter, the quicker the sunscreen can biodegrade. If you want to protect the oceans, then you can find sunscreen with those ingredients or make your own.

Q: Why Do Sunscreens Damage Coral Reefs?


Many of the ingredients (see the next section) in sunscreens are not soluble in water. Many of them are effective in blocking UV rays, but they are not safe for ingestion. This is fine for us, but when we wear sunscreen and go into the water, the sunscreen will mix with the water, and all of the chemicals will be floating around. For life in the oceans, this can be extremely detrimental. It has also been found that the ingredients in sunscreen can react with saltwater to produce adverse effects.

There are many ingredients in modern sunscreen that can cause the death of plankton. When the chemicals mix with the water, then the production of hydrogen peroxide is increased which hastens the death of plankton under the water. The thing about plankton is that it is part of a bigger food chain. Small marine animals eat plankton, and, in turn, larger animals eat those small animals. As plankton dies out, small animals die, and then larger animals die. Plankton is also one of the main foods for corals and reefs.

Many of the ingredients in sunscreen are also included as nano-particles. The size of the particles is very small, but they also clump. When they do, they can clog up the pores in a coral reef. This kills off the symbiotic plankton in a reef. The plankton is cut off from sunlight, which it needs to grow, and a food source. This means that the coral receives less nourishment too. The coral reef will slowly turn white when this happens, and when a coral turns white, it is starting to die.

When we use sunscreen during a dive, we should be aware that we are not wearing ingredients that can kill a coral reef. The same is true when we are swimming in any part of the ocean, even at the beach. With the number of people who swim in the ocean each day, there are a lot of sunscreens that are being washed off and into the ocean. This is damaging the coral reefs all around the world.

Q: What Are Common Ingredients Of A Sunscreen?


How many times have we picked up a bottle of sunscreen and checked the ingredients on the back? How many of us know what is in a bottle of sunscreen? The thing we pay attention to is the SPF number on the front, but what are the ingredients which provide us with that sun protection?

Oxybenzone is a common ingredient and is also found in other beauty products. This organic compound helps to block the UV rays when they hit our skin. While this compound is used extensively in sunscreen, it is also a common ingredient in manufacturing plastics.

Titanium oxide is also great for blocking UV rays. Great for protecting skin, and great for protecting your house, which is why it is commonly used in paint. Zinc oxide, which is commonly used in its nano form, is also very efficient in blocking the sun’s rays, but it is not soluble in water. You will often find zinc oxide in sunglasses.

Q: Why Do I Need A Special Snorkeling Sunscreen?


When you are snorkeling, you are under the water for a long period. The longer you are under the water, the more sunscreen is going to be absorbed into the water (even water-resistant sunscreen will come off your body). If your sunscreen is filled with chemicals, then it is going to negatively affect life in the oceans. This is especially true for coral reefs. If you wear sunscreen which has been designed specifically for snorkeling, then you will be protecting the life with which you are swimming. Snorkeling sunscreen is made from more organic materials and materials which will not harm the coral reefs.

Globo Surf Overview

Choosing the best snorkeling sunscreen for your next snorkel trip can be overwhelming. With so many chemical sunscreens on the market, it can be difficult to find one that is safe for you and the sea life. When snorkeling, it is important to look for sunscreen safe for coral reefs. All of the snorkeling sunscreens on our list provide the best sun protection while being safe for both you and the coral. These snorkel sunscreens are built to withstand the harsh sun conditions of snorkeling on the water. Being adequately water-resistant while also providing a sufficient SPF, these snorkeling sunscreens work to ensure that you have the best day on the water that you can.

For even more protection from the sun’s harmful rays, it is worth investing in a quality beach umbrella for when you are out of the water. This will work to give your body a break from the sun when you aren’t snorkeling.

More Snorkel Reviews:

Have you ever tried any of the snorkeling sunscreens on our list? How did they measure up for your summertime fun? Talk to us about it in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!