Hormone disruptors, toxins, carcinogens, additives, preservatives in many popular sunscreens can negatively effect people, corals, aquatic / marine life. In 2018, Hawai’i passed a ban on sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate, though it doesn’t go into effect until 2021. Meanwhile many local stores continue to sell these sunscreens. Chemical sunscreen brands are now labeling their sunscreens devoid of these two chemicals as “reef safe”, despite them being filled with other toxic ingredients. There are no regulations on the terms “reef safe” or “coral safe”… or “safe” in general. but Here are some of the many ingredients to avoid: oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, avobenzone, dimethicone, parabens, BHT, nano-particles, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances, retinyl palmitate, cocamide dea, phenoxyethanol.
While we are under no illusions anything is 100% devoid of an impact, we look for the safest options for people and the environment. When choosing a safe sunscreen look for broad spectrum protection from minerals such as non-nano zinc oxide (or titanium dioxide) in a natural base. Zinc content should be 18%+. If you’re looking for water resistance, you may want to avoid water-soluble fillers (H2O, Aloe, Alcohols, which would require added emulsifiers). Avoid chemical aerosols: these do not apply evenly, atomize toxins, making them airborne, travel hundreds of feet in the wind, get into people’s lungs, coat sand & enter the ocean at high tide. FDA recommends to never spray these directly on children. (Even if you choose mineral spray, be respectful and apply them in your bathroom. Inhalation of TiO2 and silica can cause lung damage, irritation and inflammation).
In the past couple years, safer sunscreens have become more available. If your fave shop doesn’t stock any, pass this list along to their buyer! Tell them to get their store Safe Sunscreen Certified. Many of these natural sunscreen companies are small – support them by shopping direct on their site. These brands may seem more costly, but many are concentrated formulations, utilizing pure quality non-GMO, organic ingredients. They also often stay on longer and are more efficient. Also consider looking at ounces included. In sticks for example, some brands have less than .25 ounces, while natural brands are one ounce!
* Remember, don’t solely depend on sunscreen!: hydrate, eat right, seek shade, utilize sun protective clothing (dark), avoid scrubbing sebum (natural SPF) off skin with hot water and soaps before going into the sun, avoid photosensitizing oils.
None of this information should replace logic or your doctors recommendations (luckily many dermatologists are switching to mineral sunscreens, especially after oxybenzone won skin irritant of the year). Check for FDA guidelines and updates. This is our opinion, research for yourself. We do recommend to do skin patch tests for all skin care including sunscreens.