Lately I have been reading loads of local posts on multiple social media pages and various news
sources about the ban of Single Use Plastic. I love what people are doing to eliminate plastic waste.
They are coming up with very innovative methods to save our planet. Let’s look a bit further on how
we can also help our oceans. Let’s consider our sunscreen purchases.
Do you buy the least expensive formula? Or, perhaps one that has antiaging benefits ? Otherwise,
do you purchase the products that are best for our planet?
As we go for a swim in our waters, there are tens of thousands of different kinds of personal care
products that have made their way into the oceans. The most pertinent polluter is sunscreen. It
washes off your body when swimming and enters the marine environment. Common chemical
sunscreen ingredients, such as Oxybenzone and octinoxate can kill coral and damage coral reefs as
well as harm marine life.
What we can do:
• Avoid sunscreens with a high content of Titanium Dioxide. This mineral does not
biodegrade and is found to react in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxide which is
harmful to all sea life.
• Avoid the ingredients octocrylene, 4MBC, butylparaben, Oxybenzone and octinoxate.
The last two chemicals have been recently banned in Hawaii and are believed to cause
• Mineral Sunscreens made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are mineral-based.
Therefore, the particles of these ingredients sit on top of the skin and block harmful UV
rays rather than be absorbed into the skin like traditional sunscreen. But, as the
sunscreen washes off the body into the water, the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can be
ingested by corals and cause death to the coral if the chemicals are “Non- Nano particles
(if smaller than 150 nanometers).
• Avoid spray on sunscreens. Generally more goes onto the sand than onto our bodies
and they add harmful chemical ingredients into the sand. When the tide comes in, this
sunscreen left on sand is then carried out into the ocean, which can lead to additional
contamination of our seas. Another issue to be aware of is that when it rains, this
sunscreen residue can seep underneath into the sand, where sea turtles lay their eggs.
Thus causing great danger to our turtle populations. Please also remember these facts
when applying bug repellent- but that will be another blog!
Unfortunately, many of the sunscreens we find here in Costa Rica are very expensive and are not
eco-friendly. Most contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, parabens, and sulfites. Some common brands
that contain these dangerous chemicals are Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat.
Currently, Banana Boat has come out with a line called, “Simply Protect” which is made without
oxybenzone and parabens.
Just because it says, “Eco Friendly” and “Reef Safe” read the label further. Even ‘natural’ or
“organic” ingredients can cause harm to the ocean. Plant-based oils added to sunscreens, like
eucalyptus and lavender, can be dangerous to invertebrates. Beeswax can contain industrial
insecticides that, when mixed in products, can release these chemicals onto your skin and into the
Remember: the simpler the formula, the better for the environment.
• Buy Rub on — Not Spray on.
• Buy a “non-Nano” (greater than 150 nanometers) zinc oxide or titanium dioxide mineral
based sun screen.
The following sunscreens come up on many lists as the products to look for to be “eco Conscious”,
Vegan, Sulfate, Paraben, and Cruelty Free (look for the Bunny logo).
Please note that many of these containers are being made from recycled plastic.
• All Good Sunscreen Butter – SPF 50 Reef Friendly In a tin- No Plastic!
• All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
• Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
• Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen (vegan)
• Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
• Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
• Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
• Loving Naturals Clear Body SPF 30+ All-natural Sunscreen
• Reef Safe Oxybenzone Free Biodegradable SPF 50 Sunscreen
• Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
• TotLogic Sunscreen – 20% Zinc Oxide – SPF 30 – Broad Spectrum
This is just a starting point and if we all chip in we can create a difference in our world and the
marine ecosystem. When you can, invest in UPF 50 clothing and purchase ocean friendly SPF.
Love, Light, and Insight,