A New Ban on Certain Sunscreens to Protect Coral Reef

Recently, Key West voted to ban the sale and use of sunscreens that contain chemicals deemed harmful to the coral reef. Sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate will now not be available for sale or use in Key West. These chemicals both induce coral bleaching, and damage the DNA of corals. What does this mean? Ecologically, this means that coral populations will keep on declining in light of the fact that they can’t make a secure and healthy next-generation. Lean more >

This ban is just the beginning of help for the wellbeing of our coral reefs, and with your help we can make a massive difference. Although it is still highly advised to continue the use of sunscreen, there are plenty of options for sunscreen that does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate. In the market for some ocean-friendly sunscreen? We’ve got you covered.


Fact: Certain ingredients in biodegradable sunscreens are toxic to corals and reef fish, but are still in products that are labeled reef safe.

Why Is Stream2Sea Sunscreen the Way to Go?

We Make Sure Its Safe for You, and for the Ocean

There is a very real threat that skin care products are causing damage to the delicate ecosystems in our planet’s waters—and we need to develop products with as much certainty as possible that they won’t hurt the creatures they come into contact with, including coral.

So … we test our products to ensure they will not be harmful to fish and other aquatic life as used. We are adamantly against animal testing where there are in vitro alternatives.  At this time, however, there are no cellular cultures or models to replicate aquatic toxicity testing to the extent we need.

Aquatic Toxicity and Safety

We began by testing on C. Elegans, simple nematodes, which are ideal for rapid, predictive screening on inflammatory ingredients. We then moved on to freshwater and saltwater fish species, looking at the impact on the fish’s eating behavior, swimming behavior and, of course, mortality rates. Our studies were prepared and conducted by the EcoTox team at Eckerd College. The test subjects were fed at the same time every day and the same amount of food for 96 hours. The fish were exposed to the highest concentration of product that any marine animal or plant would ever naturally come into contact with. For each test, we added a competitor’s product to one group of subjects, the second group was exposed to the same concentration of Stream2Sea’s biodegradable sunscreens and product, and finally, the control group was not exposed to any foreign products. During every observation period, mortality rate, feeding behavior and swimming behavior was recorded. These experiments were done for each of our products before determining their safety. We were pleased to note that our sunscreen did not generate any mortality.

Swimming Behavior in Fishes

What these results show is that swimming behavior with Stream2Sea biodegradable mineral sunscreen is relatively unaffected, whereas the competitor sunscreen most definitely altered the fish’s swimming behavior. Baitfish may be sluggish in the water and not as responsive to their environment. In the wild, sluggish fish would be more vulnerable to predators, and less likely to find or compete for food.

Feeding Behavior

What these results show is that feeding behavior with Stream2Sea sunscreen is relatively unaffected, whereas the competitor sunscreen most definitely altered the fish’s desire to feed.

Coral Larvae Settlement Tests

Stream2Sea biodegradable mineral sunscreens (SPF 20 and 30) did NOT significantly decrease larval settlement, compared to the positive settlement control. The equivalent concentration of Brand X significantly inhibited larval settlement.

Tests Summary of Biodegradable Sunscreens and Products

We set out to create the safest product line of biodegradable sunscreens and bodycare possible for us and the environment. Our company is led by a vegetarian and an animal rights activist, yet we realized that the only way to determine if our products would be harmful to fish and other aquatic life was to test them on living animals. Read more about the tough decisions we’ve had to make about product testing through the process here.  In the end, we are very proud of the SAFE products that we have created. You can feel good using our products during all your adventures, in the backyard or while exploring our beautiful planet blue.

Particle Size Distribution

Stream2Sea biodegradable and reef safe mineral sunscreens are independently verified to contain only NON-NANO particles of titanium dioxide. The X-Axis on these charts are in microns. 100 nanometers equals 0.1 micron. Both plots show nothing below 100 nanometers or 0.1 microns.

Scientific Tests and Resources

Scientific Test Results


  • Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Downs C.A. et al. 2015 October. Summary of test results.  Also: Full Text.
  • Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections. Environmental Health Perspectives. Danovaro R, et al. 2008 April. Full Text
  • The Impacts of Sunscreens on Our Coral Reefs. National Park Service. Sunscreen Bulletin

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