Our “Ingredients to Avoid” list is one of the most visited pages on our website – probably because many outdoors adventurers aren’t scientists even though they are committed to wearing reef-safe sunscreen. We’ve tried very hard to make this page user friendly and even created a free card with the biggest “no-no” ingredients still commonly found in sunscreens, some even labeled as “reef-friendly” or “reef-safe.”
Like “all natural,” there is no government regulations on labeling reef-safe sunscreens. It really boils down to taking the time to move beyond the marketing on the front, and read the back of the sunscreen bottle – unless, of course, you’re in a dive center or retailer that carries Stream2Sea!
One of the newest but most blatant abuse of the “reef-safe” sunscreens are those using clear zinc. I had actually thought about making it the primary ingredient in our sunscreens until I saw the technical data sheet that is included with every order of raw materials. Most of the time, “aquatic safety” is listed in the way back of a long technical (and mostly boring) document. For clear zinc, the honest sales rep actually pointed out to me that it’s listed as “Acute Aquatic Toxicity” in red on the first page!
I was disappointed, because I really wanted a clear sunscreen like what you get with the chemical formulas — but not at the expense of using an ingredient clearly labeled as toxic in an aquatic ecosystem. We went with non-nano titanium dioxide instead and proudly wore the slight white sheen as a badge of honor until we reformulated it with a natural mineral tint that actually makes the sunscreen slightly more effective.
Now that consumers are demanding reef-safe sunscreen, manufacturers across the country are simply removing oxybenonze or relabeling their formulas – and since zinc oxide sounds so safe, clear zinc has become the ingredient of choice in many lines. I honestly don’t know if the manufacturers read the technical data sheet and chose to ignore it, or if they just didn’t bother to look at it. (Either is scary from my perspective, I’ve never used an ingredient without thoroughly reviewing and understanding that document.) Maybe some clear zincs are safe, but until someone does the safety testing dis-proving the details on the material safety data sheet, we will continue to avoid it and encourage EcoConscious consumers to do the same.
Obviously, it’s a lot more fun to look at the latest fitness tracker, counter lungs, kayak or hiking boots than stand in front of a bewildering row of sunscreens labeled reef-safe, but if you really care about the world you’re enjoying, you’ll need to read the ingredients on any sunscreen you purchase. #protectwhatyoulove #saveourseas #leavenotrace #consciousliving #knowyouringredients
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of our ingredients to avoid card and take it with you next time you shop!
Stream2Sea has set a new standard for EcoConscious sunscreen and skincare. Along with the required human safety and SPF tests, Stream2Sea products are proven to be readily biodegradable in both salt and fresh water and have passed a comprehensive series of aquatic toxicity tests. Formulated with powerful antioxidant blends to protect skin from sun damage, the Stream2Sea line includes safe 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.