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Dive Deeper Blog
Ecofriendly Sunscreen: Five Things You Need to Know
1. Avoid petrochemical sunscreen ingredients
The full impact of petrochemical sunscreen ingredients – including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, ensulizole, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O and butyloctyl salicylate – is still being studied, but it appears that they all can damage aquatic ecosystems and the creatures who live in them in amazingly small concentrations. Check our Ingredients to Avoid list for more details.
2. Read the back of the package
There is no legal definition of “reef-safe” or “ecofriendly” sunscreen so manufacturers can say almost anything on the front of the bottle. They are, however, required by law to list active ingredients on the back of the label. Take the time to check and make sure that they don’t contain petrochemical sunscreens or other ingredients to avoid that could harm our oceans, lakes, rivers and reefs.
3. Ecofriendly sunscreen is important wherever you’re using it
More than 14,000 tons of sunscreen are reported by NOAA to wash off our bodies and into the oceans every year. What they don’t tell you is that the most important source of ocean-harming petrochemicals isn’t from beach-goers and scuba divers, but rather from the wastewater created when you wash those chemicals off in a shower or flush them down the drain. Most wastewater treatment plants can’t remove these synthetic organic ingredients so they flow into the nearest body of water, which eventually ends up in the ocean. (That’s why we’re named Stream2Sea, in case you wondered, because all streams lead to the sea.)
4. Check the container too
Eighty percent of ocean debris is plastic, that can take hundreds of years to break down. Plastics kill millions of animals every year who mistakenly eat it or get tangled in it. More recently, studies are showing that microplastics created when plastic containers break down into tiny pieces have been found in more than 100 species of fish and shellfish that humans are likely to eat. (All Stream2Sea products are packaged in sustainable containers made with bio-resins from sugarcane or post consumer recycled materials like milk jugs.)
5. Ecofriendly is people-friendly too!
Many questions remain about the safety of petrochemical sunscreens for the people using them too. In 2019, the FDA removed the GRASE – generally recognized as safe and effective – designation for petrochemical sunscreen ingredients and asked manufacturers to provide safety data. To date, they have not provided sufficient safety documentation for the FDA to reverse their decision. The only sunscreen ingredients that are still considered GRACE are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide found in Stream2Sea products – yet chemical companies continue to put new petrochemical based sunscreens on the market.
Since 2014, Stream2Sea has the first and only sunscreen to be scientifically tested and proven safe for fish and coral larvae. We still debate what it means to be reef safe, but we fully believe we are the reef safest! Check out the results of those tests here: https://stream2sea.com/product-testing/