Sunscreens that Protect You and the Ocean



When it’s time for fun in the sun, lather up with sunscreen that is good for you AND the ocean.  when you go to buy a sunscreen you are faced with the daunting prospect of choosing from hundreds of products lining your store’s shelves.

What makes your purchase even more complicated is that you have been told that not all sunscreens are created equal, false labeling is rampant and often misleading.  So, what brands are safe for you ….

Some Sun Suggestions

Use shsunscreen-Kris Carr, sunglasses, sun protection,ade, find it or make it with a beach umbrella and keep infants in the shade. Wear clothes whenever possible, especially hats. And don’t forget to wear sunglasses, this is a must to protect your eyes from what could become permanent damage. Consider rash guard shirts, they’re flexible, protect against sunburn and abrasions, light weight and quick drying. (photo – Kris Carr)

First a Few Sunscreen Facts, sunscreen, sun protection, sustainable lifestyleThere are sunscreens, which protect by absorbing ultraviolet rays and there are sunblocks, that protect by applying a physical barrier to rays hitting your skin. (photo – medicalnewstoday)

Avoid or at least take with a grain of beach sand, sunscreens that claim high SPF (Sun Protection Factor), the FDA claims these products are “inherently misleading”.

Sunscreens that contain chemicals can impact your health. Since sunscreens are applied directly to the skin, this allows chemicals to be absorbed into the body. There is limited data insuring the safety of sunscreen ingredients and some evidence that they may cause skin rashes or hormonal issues.

Avoid sunscreen sprays. Chemicals in these products can be inhaled and the spray is more likely to stick to the sand than to your skin.

14,000 Tons of Sunscreen Slime Coral Reefs Annually, coral reef damaged by sunscreenWhen you realize that approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion finds its way onto coral reefs annually, you can begin to see the magnitude of the problem. After 12 years of research Downs pinpointed certain ingredients contained in sunscreens, (specifically oxybenzone, but also others) that pose a serious threat to not only coral reefs but marine life worldwide. (photo-


“We did studies under controlled conditions and we were horrified at what we found,” Downs said.

Oxybenzone can damage coral DNA resulting in reefs that look “healthy but are actually sterile and dead—so they cannot reproduce.” As a result of the research of Downs and others. Mexico has banned products with oxybenzone from its eco-reserves and similar legislation is being proposed for Hawaii.

New Products Protect the Marine Environment

stream2Sea_sunsreen, biodegradabl, sustainable lifestyleCompanies have responded with eco-conscious products containing ingredients that are less harmful to the underwater environment. Autumn Blum, a chemist with Stream2Sea had an “aha” moment while diving in Palau several years ago.

“We were showering on deck, with fragrant suds running right overboard, putting leave-in conditioner in our hair, slathering on chemical-based sunscreens, then jumping back in the ocean to repeat the process.”

When Blum returned to the US she discovered that products that were marketed as “reef-safe” contained chemicals that she knew were not safe. The result of her research is now the Stream2Sea Sunscreen, a biodegradable product that has passed numerous independent clinical tests


Generally mineral sunblocks (those containing titanium oxide, zinc oxide, or both) are thought to be safer for the environment than chemical sunscreens (which usually contain oxybenzone).  tested some of the most available lotions, four sunscreens and three sunblocks, here are their results.

Alba Botanica produces several products. Hawaiian Aloe Vera (SPF 15), Hawaiian Green Tea (SPF 30+), SUN/Sport (SPF 30+)

Aubrey Organics Natural Sun offers Green Tea (SPF 25)

Burt’s Bees Chemical–Free sunscreen, Hempseed Oil (SPF 15 and 30) got a definite  thumbs down.

Jason Sunbrellas Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Kiss My Face, SPF 30

Desert Essence Organics Age Reversal Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30

Aveeno Active Naturals Continous Protection Sunblock

The Bottom Line from they found Kiss My Face, Desert Essence, and Jason to be the most effective (and Alba’s sunblock, (not reviewed) may be a good bet, given the effectiveness of its sunscreens). Whatever, stay clear of Burt’s Bees — it’ll leave you seeing red.

Also consider sunscreens from Patagonia and Kassia + Surf. stays with sunscreens that are mineral instead of chemical. Their researcher also avoids sunscreens with fragrance and parabens (a preservative). This limited their suggestions to two products and she found them at Target, however in the infant section, not the sunscreen section.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40

Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunblock Stick, SPF 60+

A Comprehensive Resource From Environmental Working Group

ewg_logo_environmental working group, sunscreen, environmentally safe, sustainable lifestyleOne of the best resources that everyone seems to tap into is the Environmental Working Group that publishes their comprehensive rating of sunscreens.

Or Make your Own Sunscreen

All content provided on the “Scuba Diving Resource”  website is for informational purposes only. Any comments, opinions that may be found here at Scuba Diving Resource are the express opinions and or the property of their individual authors.
Scuba Diving Resource makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Please note that regulations and information can change at any time.

August 24, 2017 |

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