Dive Deeper Blog

Biodegradable Sunscreen? What You Need to Know!

April 8, 2016

Just because a sunscreen is biodegradable does not mean it is a safe sunscreen for aquatic ecosystems, particularly if it contain oxybenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate and other harsh ingredients.

Biodegradability means that the product will eventually break down within 28-60 days, but our question remains what kind of damage can be done to the environment or our bodies during that time?

Toxicity and biodegradability are totally different issues.

For instance, one of the most toxic pesticides ever made – dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT – biodegrades into two compounds which are even more dangerous than the original poison. In this case, biodegradability is clearly a bad thing!

Is your sunscreen readily biodegradable?

There are several tests to measure a sunscreen’s biodegradability, and most are designed to analyze the product’s ability to breakdown in wastewater treatment facilities with high levels of microbes and enzymes. To be considered ‘readily biodegradable,’ the product must break down into its natural state from 60 to 80% in 28 days. ‘Inherently biodegradable’ means it will break down from as low as 20% to 60% in 28 days.

Is it tested in freshwater and saltwater environments?

When submitting our products to the lab, we requested a test method that would be more in line with what we were trying to prove: that our sunscreens would be biodegradable in streams, lakes and rivers, as well as our oceans, not just sewers and septic systems.

Although we were very excited to get the test results showing that not only our sunscreens biodegrade, but also our shampoo, conditioner, lotion, gel… our complete product line is readily biodegradable in both fresh and saltwater.  Even though we proved that Stream2Sea offers biodegradable sunscreen and bodycare, we knew there would be more testing required to prove that we had a safe sunscreen and body care line. Learn more about our continued testing here.

Read the label!

The bottom line is to know your ingredients! Just because a sunscreen says that it is ‘natural,’ ‘reef safe’ or even ‘readily biodegradable,’ does not mean that it is truly safe. Turn the bottle over and check out the ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ ingredients. (If you would like a convenient, wallet-sized card listing the top ingredients to avoid, email us with your address and we’ll drop one in the mail.)

I thank you for continuing to join us on this journey… because we DO have a choice and we can choose to do better. We appreciate your comments, concerns and questions that will help to ensure that we share information that is important to you along the way.
Autumn Blum
Formulator & CEO
Stream2Sea – home of the EcoConscious Mineral Sunscreen

Stream2Sea has set a new standard for EcoConscious sunscreen and skincare. Along with standard human safety and SPF tests, Stream2Sea products are proven to be biodegradable in both salt water and fresh water,  have passed a comprehensive series of aquatic toxicity tests and was formulated without ingredients known to harm the environment.  Formulated with powerful antioxidant blends to protect skin from sun damage, the Stream2Sea line includes sunscreens, conditioning shampoo and body wash, leave-in conditioner, nourishing body lotion and lip balms. Stream2Sea products are currently available online at www.Stream2Sea.com or ask for them at your favorite health food store, dive center or outdoor retailer. Friend us on Facebook or call (866) 960-9513.