Dive Deeper Blog

Does Your Sunscreen Contribute to the Destruction of Coral Reefs?

October 26, 2015

parady-sunscreen-smallIf your sunscreen contains oxybenzone and parabens, they could be part of the problem.

When the Washington Post and Time magazine both published articles warning about sunscreens killing coral reefs, it didn’t surprise me one bit. The damage caused by benzophenone (also known as oxybenzone) and parabens had already been well documented in previous reports. The really big surprise with this latest research by Dr. Craig Downs, published in the Journal of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, was that such a tiny concentration could cause such extensive damage.

Oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3 or BP-3) is a commonly used ingredient in FDA approved sunscreens, including some that are labeled as ‘coral reef safe.’ “The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” said Downs.

We formulated and tested our Sunscreen and body care products to ensure that our products would NOT contribute to the destruction of coral.  

My sunscreen is a drop in the bucket. It can’t possibly make a difference…Or can it?

“Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers,” Downs adds. Not to negate the other very real threats to our oceans like coastal pollution, climate change and overfishing, but the informed consumer can no longer believe they cannot make a difference. The study showed that miniscule concentrations — about 62 parts per trillion — damaged nearly half of the coral larva exposed to it in a lab setting and researchers documented significantly higher concentrations in waters near reefs in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. Have a hard time visualizing that concentration? It’s roughly the equivalent of a drop of water in six Olympic-sized swimming pools!

We need to protect and preserve our coral reefs – Together, we can do better!


Stream2Sea does not contain ANY ingredients known to harm our sensitive marine environments.

I created Stream2Sea after spending a week diving in a very remote and sensitive environment, watching people apply aerosol sunscreens and other ‘reef friendly’ products that, as a cosmetic chemist, I knew were not at all safe.

I teamed up with researchers from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg – my alma mater – to conduct a series of pioneering tests on organisms ranging from the microscopic C. elegans to several fish species, then live coral larva collected at Mote Marine’s Tropical Research Foundation in the Florida Keys. After hundreds of hours of research and reformulations, nematodes, freshwater fish, saltwater fish AND the very sensitive coral larvae all came through with flying colors.

The biggest issue now is education. I encourage you to look at your sunscreen, shampoo and conditioner. If they contain any of the ingredients that are found on our ingredients to avoid page, please consider the potential impact of that collective purchase. Divers would never intentionally harm a coral reef, but we’ve already learned how little we know about the impact skin care products have on our environment. The goal with our in-depth testing was to identify products that don’t damage sensitive underwater ecosystems and then educate outdoor explorers about their choices. We want people to look at what they’re using on their bodies, and how that affects the waters they want to play in, on, or under.

After completing testing, my company launched our full line of Eco-conscious and biodegradable skin and sun care products in July 2015.


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.