Lake-Friendly Sunscreens

Why it’s important to say NO to chemical sunscreens

For the longest time I did not know how harmful cosmetics, specifically sunscreen, could be for our lakes and waterways. I recently caught up with my friend (and vegan, cruelty-free, zero waste blogger) Kaitlyn Dickie to get the rundown on what kinds of products are lake-friendly. Here’s what she said:

Sunscreen and the Environment

There are two ways that sunscreen can protect the skin from harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays, through a mineral barrier or a chemical one. There are many ingredients in conventional sunscreen that are not only toxic to us, but also toxic to the environment! I’ll keep it light and only focus on a few of the harsh chemicals to avoid. The main one that you’ll find in chemical sunscreen (as well as some sunscreens that claim to be natural), is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a endocrine-disrupting chemical that has some harsh consequences. According to the Environmental Working Group, it is found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens. Most lake-friendly sunscreens use a mineral called Zinc Oxide which is one of the most effective UVA/UBV sun protections in the world.

Credit: Destination British Columbia

Credit: Destination British Columbia

Why it’s important to say NO to chemical sunscreens

All water sources are intimately connected and their individual health is crucial to the environment and ecosystems within them. When you put a chemical sunscreen on your skin and head for one of our many beautiful lakes, those toxins, nanoparticles and unnatural preservatives leach into the waterways and have a negative impact on the delicate wildlife.

Don’t worry though, Kaitlyn has broken it down for you so you know what to look for when picking out sunscreen, how to minimize your impact on our lakes and oceans, and she’s even provided you with some tried and true examples to pick up from your local store!

All of the following sunscreens are reef-safe, lake-friendly, cruelty-free, mineral based, nanoparticle free and paraben-free.


Uses mineral Zinc Oxide, organic and skin soothing, non-GMO and antioxidant rich. This sunscreen is quite thick and harder to spread on your skin but it might be something that you use for your face or the spots that are more prone to sunburns.

Bare Nature Products

Coconut oil and zinc based sunscreen. Lavender scented using essential oils. Blends in and applies well. Vegan, organic and uses Vitamin E and white willow bark as antioxidants and preservatives.

Sun Bum

Gluten-free, oil-free, hypoallergenic and vegan. This sunscreen goes on like your typical conventional sunscreen that is usually chemical-laden, without all the junk that comes with it. Sun Bum also has a mineral line as well that Kaitlyn highly recommends checking out!

Goddess Garden

Certified organic and vegan. This one is cool because it’s effective immediately. No waiting 20 minutes so the chemicals absorb into your skin before exposure. Kaitlyn really like this sunscreen because they use pure lavender essential oil that actually benefits your skin. It does go on slightly thicker but it does blend in and turns transparent once rubbed in.

Lavish Body Products

Eco-friendly, local to the Okanagan and has the option for zero-waste as it’s on the refill program at Unless Market in Kelowna. Completely natural and chemical free, no fragrances.

All Good

Non-nano zinc-based sunscreen and the company itself is a huge advocate for reef-friendly products! Check out their River to Reef Friendly Pledge.

Bare Nature Products

Coconut oil and zinc-based beach lotion perfect for any day spent in sand. It’s great for kids as well! Takes a little bit to work into your skin, but it’s worth the tiny bit of work!

Three Thompson Okanagan Lakes to Visit this Summer

Now that we know what kinds of products to pack in our beach bags, here are three of my favourite lakes to visit in the summertime.

Kalamalka Lake

Kalamalka Lake is hands down my favourite lake to visit in the warmer months. When the lake warms in the summer, dissolved limestone crystallizes, giving the lake a distinctive blue and green hue which looks almost tropical.

Murtle Lake

Murtle Lake is located North of Kamloops (Tk'emlups) in Wells Gray Provincial Park. This is North America’s largest non-motorized lake and it features white sand beaches, mountain views and unparalleled canoe-camping opportunities. If it’s your first time paddling, this isn’t the place to start - but it’s a wonderful destination for those who are comfortable in the pristine but remote wilderness.

Lightning Lake

Located in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, Lightning Lake is one of my favourite places to canoe or hike. There is a beautiful lush trail system and a series of lakes to paddle through. Camping and canoe rentals are available on-site.



Meghan Reading is a Canadian travel photographer. She grew up in the rocky mountains of Alberta but now calls British Columbia home. While she looks forward to continuing to explore the world with her camera, her favourite destination will always be her own backyard.

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