Dive Deeper Blog

Organic Sunscreen What Does it Really Mean?

When most people think of organic sunscreen, they think natural, wholesome and safe. But, you might remember from high school chemistry that “organic” can also mean carbon-based chemicals.

So what’s the big deal? When talking about organic sunscreen ingredients, it’s not the same as the lovely organic tomato you might purchase from Whole Foods.

Organic Sunscreens Aren’t Always Telling the Whole Truth

Simply put, “organic” sunscreen ingredients can be labeled “organic” just because they’re carbon-based chemicals.  These “organic sunscreens” can still be cause for concern to the environment and to our health.  The manufacturers aren’t lying, but they certainly aren’t telling the whole truth.

Oxybenzone, for example, is an Organic Compound

Take oxybenzone, also known as benzophenone-3, for example. According to the manufacturer, oxybenzone is an organic compound and is commonly added to sunscreens for its UVA- and UVB-absorbing properties.

Controversy abounds regarding these ingredients: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that oxybenzone is found in urine samples of 97% of Americans and linked it to allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage. According to the Environmental Working Group, oxybenzone is “ineffective and harmful,” but lists nearly 600 products containing it, including sunscreens commonly found in local drug stores, outdoor outfitters and marketed towards water-enthusiasts.

Other studies show that oxybenzone can trigger outbreaks of viral infection in coral reefs, and can disrupt hormones in fish. 

What Kind of Organic Sunscreen Ingredients Matter?

This is definitely not the kind of “organic” ingredient most of us would want in our skincare products. These chemicals have the potential to bioaccumulate in our bodies and in our environment – a 2010 study by Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich found at least one “organic sunscreen chemical” in 85 percent of mother’s milk samples. These reports include oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnimate – both carbon-based chemicals that could be labeled as organic compounds.

The bottom line: Know your ingredients! Just because a product says that it is “natural,”  “organic” or “ocean reef safe,” does not mean that it is. 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 at hello@stream2sea.com 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 together, we can choose 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.



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