A Local’s Guide to Buying Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Five Hawai‘i brands have created reef-safe sunscreens that are safe for your ʻohana and the ocean. Think of it as a win-win for you and the environment.

Update, May 30, 2019: Whole Foods Market announced the ban of oxybenzone and octinoxate in all body care and sunscreen products sold in its stores across the U.S., two years ahead of regulation in our state and Key West, Florida. This story was originally published on October 30, 2018.


Reef-safe Sunscreen from Ao Organics Hawaiʻi
Photo: Courtesy of Ao Organics Hawaiʻi


If you have gone swimming recently at Hanauma Bay, you may have seen the impact chemicals have had on the once rainbow-like coral reefs on Hawaiʻi. This summer, the state became the first in the country to ban sunscreen containing oxybenzone or octinoxate


If the news left you searching for another way to protect yourself from the sun, a few Hawai‘i companies have already created sunscreens that are reef-safe and packed in chic, reusable containers. Here are some of our favorites.


SEE ALSO: The Sunscreen Ban in Hawai‘i is Creating Opportunities for Local Businesses


Little Hands Hawaiʻi

Little Hands Hawaiʻi
Photo: Courtesy of Little Hands Hawaiʻi

What started off as an obsession with keeping her new daughter safe from the sun, turned into a tried-and-true recipe for a truly natural sunscreen, Little Hands Hawaiʻi. Rosalyn Ardoin and her partner Michael Koenigs use only baby-safe and organic local ingredients including Big Island beeswax and local macadamia nut oil. The sunscreen is packed in tins and biodegradable push-up tubes which are available in retail stores in Hawaiʻi, Japan and the Mainland.

$12 to $20, available at littlehandshawaii.com and Down to Earth Kakaʻako, 500 Keawe St., Honolulu, (808) 465-2512.


SEE ALSO: 7 Eco-Warriors Weigh in on How to Live a Sustainable Life


Mama Kuleana

Photo: Courtesy of Mama Kuleana

Originating from the West Maui Mountains, Mama Kuleana is a local company dedicated to keeping up the kuleana of our land. Owner Susan Varsames has intertwined her background in holistic health and her desire to protect the oceans into an industry-standard natural sunscreen the company says is SPF 30 and waterproof for 40 minutes. The small-batch organic shea butter and coconut oil-based sunscreen comes in biodegradable containers and is sold in various shops in Maui, Bayside Adventures in Captain Cook on the Big Island and Growing Keiki in Hale‘iwa. 

$20, available at mamakuleana.com.



Raw Love

Raw Love
Photo: Courtesy of Raw Love

The retro, mermaid-topped tin is a cute addition for any beach bag. But inside Raw Love’s container is the real tanning day essential. Maui native Jenna Davis's eco-friendly sunscreen was inspired by her love for marine biology and her obsession with keeping her tattoos safe from the sun. The all plant-based formula includes jojoba and cold-pressed coconut oil and quickly sinks into skin without leaving a greasy residue.

$17 to $25, available at rawlovesunscreen.com.


SEE ALSO: 7 Eco-Friendly Cups, Flasks and Bottles You Can Buy on O‘ahu


Ao Organics Hawaiʻi

Ao Organics Hawaiʻi
Photo: Courtesy of Ao Organics Hawaiʻi

From toning spray to after sunscreen balms, Ao Organics creates eight all-natural products to get you through the sunniest of Hawai‘i days. Mother of three Chelsea Davis whips up all the recipes in her home on Big Island. The tinted sunscreen comes not only in tins, but also biodegradable push-up sunscreen sticks for protection on the go. You can find her sunscreens in shops on the Big Island, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

$18 to $25, available at aoorganicshawaii.com.


SEE ALSO: 10 Local Ocean-Friendly Restaurants on O‘ahu to Try Now


Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Honua Hawaiian Skincare
Photo: Courtesy of Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Founded in 2015 by Oʻahu native Kapua Browning, Honua Hawaiian Skincare was created to honor and share her love of Hawaiian culture and botanicals with the world. Inspired by the power of Hawaiian healing, Browning’s all-in-one Malu day cream contains coconut and sunflower oils, and has an SPF 30, to protect and hydrate skin. The best part about the product? A percentage the proceeds from the day cream is donated to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi. Think of it as a gift to yourself and the environment.

$42, available at honuaskincare.com.