Product Guide: The Most Effective Reef and Environmentally-Friendly Sunscreens for Your Trip to Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Did you know that every year between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen washes into reef areas around the world? Did you also know that most of that sunscreen contains oxybenzone, a toxic ingredient that has been linked to coral bleaching and widespread coral reef destruction?

This has become such an issue that Hawaii actually just banned sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, and other islands and coastal areas are being encouraged to do that same.

It is absolutely crucial that you protect your skin from the sun when you are in Costa Rica to avoid painful burns and an increased risk of skin cancer. Fortunately, there are sunscreens that are not harmful to the reefs and ocean environment. These sunscreens are classified as mineral or natural sunscreens and typically contain zinc oxide and or titanium oxide as the active ingredients.

RipJack Inn in Costa Rica
Protect your skin and protect the reefs while in Costa Rica | © Skeyndor/Flickr

The RipJack Inn gift shop carries several locally made natural sunscreen brands and there are multiple other organic companies around the country that makes some pretty incredible products. If you don’t want to wait until you arrive in Costa Rica to sort out your sunscreen situation, we have also provided a list at the end of this short product guide of our top recommendations that you can pick up before your trip.

Help Costa Rica protect its marine environment by only wearing reef-friendly sunscreen. All of these brands have been personally tested in the sun and in the surf in Costa Rica.

SIMPLE Apotheca

SIMPLE Apotheca is an organic and environmentally conscious skincare and wellness products company based out of Playa Grande, Costa Rica. Their mission is to make “effective and simple products with ingredients your body understands.”

They make two types of reef and environmentally-friendly sun protection products that are flying off the shelves. Their 50 SPF sun defense and their sun paste are perfect for both the sun worshipper and the surf addict. The RipJack Inn gift shop carries several of their products, including the sunscreen.

Buy locally | © SIMPLE Apotheca

Raw Botanicals

Raw Botanicals has been making and distributing some of the most delicious smelling and effective natural and organic products in Costa Rica since 1999. They only use the highest quality ingredients that are either organic or wild harvested. Some of their signature ingredients include banana leaf extract, papaya extract, ylang ylang flower oil, coconut oil, coffee extract, and aloe vera.

Raw Botanicals has a water-resistant SPF 20 ylang ylang protective sun cream that is heavenly, as well as a lavender after-sun treatment, banana hair balm, and eucalyptus skin mist. RipJack Inn also carries this line in their shop.

Reef-friendly sunscreen
Sweet smelling organic sun protection made in Costa Rica | © Raw Botanicals

Jungle Mama

Jungle Mama is a Costa Rican based company that specializes in reef-friendly, non-GMO, and all-natural sunscreen, balms, and scrubs. They make a sunshield cream and an extreme face sunblock stick that are super water resistant, long-lasting, and stick so well that they won’t run off into your eyes when you are sea-saturated or sweating. Their sunscreens are zinc-based, 100% organic, and many of their ingredients are sourced directly from Costa Rica.

RipJack Inn, Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Mama knows best | © Jungle Mama

Surf Butters Organics, Inc.

Surf Butter Organics, Inc., has been dedicated to creating nature-friendly sunscreens that are highly effective when surfing or engaging in other action-packed water sports or activities in Costa Rica. Their sunscreen product line includes a lavender or cacao scented surf butter, a tinted option, an extremely water resistant 50 SPF, and a 35 SPF sun stick.

surf in Costa Rica
Heavy surf tested | © Ed Dunens/Flickr

*It might be a good idea to order Jungle Mama or Surf Butters Organics, Inc. products before your trip. Some surf shops and boutiques around the country carry their products, but they aren’t readily available everywhere yet. Both brands ship to the United States and other locations outside of Costa Rica.

Brands to buy before you arrive in Costa Rica

These are our favorite non-Costa Rican brands that have been put to the test on the beach, in the surf, in the jungle, and just out and about in the heat in Costa Rica.

Alba Botancia

Watermans Sunscreen 

Sunbum (mineral line and signature line)

All Good

MD SolarSciences

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