Our “Ingredients to Avoid” list is one of the most visited pages on our website. We’ve tried very hard to make this page easy to understand and even created a free card with the biggest “no-no” ingredients still commonly found in sunscreens labeled as “reef-friendly” or “reef-safe.”
Like “all natural,” there are no government regulations on labeling reef-safe sunscreens. It really boils down to taking the time to read the back of every sunscreen bottle – unless, of course, you’re in a dive center or retailer that carries Stream2Sea!
Marketing deception is rampant today: two new sunscreens totally take advantage of the lack of “reef-safe” regulation, including one from a major mainstream manufacturer that implies safety without exactly saying so. Read the label carefully, however and it turns out to be even worse than plain old oxybenzone. It combines both oxybenzone and octinoxate – and then throws in ethylhexyl methoxycrylene which contains cyanide! The data sheets on these products all note “very toxic to aquatic life,” with one clearly stating “long-term hazard.”
Another newly formulated sunscreen labeled as “reef-safe” uses clear zinc. I had actually thought about making it the primary ingredient in our sunscreens years ago, 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. This time, the 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 titanium dioxide instead and proudly wore the slight white sheen as a badge of honor until we created a natural mineral tint that makes the sunscreen slightly more effective.
Now that consumers are demanding reef-safe sunscreen, manufacturers across the country are simply relabeling their formulas. 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 pretty scary from my perspective, I’ve never used an ingredient without thoroughly understanding that document).
Stream2Sea is still the ONLY mineral based sunscreen that’s actually been tested and proven safe on various species ranging from tiny nematodes that mimic human interactions to the most vulnerable coral larva. You can feel good knowing that you made a safe choice for you, your family and our waters when using Stream2Sea.
Obviously, it’s a lot more fun to look at the latest counter lungs, kayak or hiking boots, but if you really care about the waters you’re enjoying, you’ll need to read the ingredients on any sunscreen you purchase. #knowyouringredients #protectwhatyoulove #saveourseas #leavenotrace #consciousliving
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of our “ingredients to avoid” card and take it with you next time you shop!