To help you know which sunscreen ingredients to look out for when shopping for reef-friendly sun creams, we asked our Cosmetic Scientist, Ian Taylor, to identify which ingredients to choose and which to avoid.
Here we reveal why Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are not included in any of our reef-safe sun cream formulas and explain the extra safety-precautions we take to ensure that you can trust our organic sun care collection to be as safe for the sea as it is for the skin.
Our reef-safe sun cream policy
To make sure our organic sunscreens are reef safe, it is our policy to refuse to use the sunscreen ingredients Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (also known as Octinoxate or Benzophenone-3 (also known as Oxybenzone) in any of our sun care products.
These sun filters are effective at safeguarding skin from the sun but are known to be marine hazards and can even be fatal to coral reefs. The risk that Oxybenzone is thought to pose to reefs is so great that several territories with coral reef marine parks have now banned its use completely.
Shocking statistic: 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen are thought to wash into the oceans each year[i]
Having worked with the UK’s Marine Conservation Charity, MCS, for over a decade and raised over £100,000 for the charity through sales of our organic sunscreens, it greatly concerns us that some sun cream filters could harm fish and coral reef.
As partners of the Marine Conservation Society, we take many precautions to ensure our natural sun creams do not harm the environment and all our organic sun care products are therefore Oxybenzone-free, Octinoxate-free and reef-safe.
Where is Oxybenzone sun cream banned?
Hawaii, Aruba and Palua are just some of the territories that have banned the use of Oxybenzone sun creams to help protect coral reefs and the marine life that depends on the reefs for survival.
Sunscreen ingredient to avoid: Oxybenzone
Although there are some coral reefs off the shore of Scotland, the UK isn’t known for its coral communities and you may wonder why as a British sun cream brand, we are so committed to making Oxybenzone-free sunscreens.
The simple answer is that the use of Oxybenzone in sun creams is a huge, global ecotourism concern. Much more than a scenic snorkelling space for UK holidaymakers, coral reefs supply a vast amount of our oxygen and also provides a sanctuary for many species of fish.
It is inevitable that sun cream will slip off skin when you are in the sea and if this ingredient comes into contact with coral reefs, they become more at risk of bleaching and more vulnerable to disease and death.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SUN CREAM IS OXYBENZONE FREE
It can be confusing to know if your sunscreen contains this ingredient as in EU sun creams the ingredient is listed as Benzophenone-3, but it is perhaps more commonly known by its American name, Oxybenzone. This ingredient has never been used in Green People products.
Sunscreen ingredient to avoid: Octinoxate
Without coral, fish lose part of their habitat and even fish that swim in UK seas and their genetic make-up can even be put at risk by sun cream filters. Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate) is widely used in many brands of sunscreen and studies have shown that this sun cream ingredient is a hormone-disrupting chemical which mimics oestrogen and could genetically alter the gender of fish.
As well as to endangering marine life, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate can also irritate the skin. For these reasons Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is not used in any Green People’s natural sunscreens.
Our marine-safe sunscreens
To safeguard plants, fish, sea birds and sea mammals from we do not add Oxybenzone or Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate filters to any of our organic sun products.
Our safe sun cream ingredients
Titanium dioxide & Isoamyl p-methoxycinnamate
Instead of using Oxybenzone and Octonixate sun cream filters we use Titanium dioxide, a naturally occurring white mineral that acts as a reflective barrier predominantly to UVB radiation, and Isoamyl p-methoxycinnamate, which is derived from cinnamic acid found in the leaves of the cinnamon tree and provides natural protection against UVB radiation.
Distinctly different from Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, it has no known hormone-mimicking effects and will not irritate the skin.
Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate
All Green People sun creams also contain a filter called Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate. This gives protection specifically against UVA radiation and is synthetically produced.
We use Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate because it has an excellent safety profile and is very well tolerated even by ultra-sensitive skin. It also biodegrades readily and has no adverse effects on the environment.
Making our sun creams safe for all
When making our sun creams, our aim is to create a non-toxic formula that looks after skin without harming the environment.
This makes the manufacturing process quite complicated and, to ensure the product is safe for skin and the sea, our Cosmetic Scientist conducts extensive research into legislation governing sun care manufacturing and continuously reviews scientific evidence around sun filter’s aquatic safety profile. This helps to ensure that sunscreen ingredients known to be harmful to aquatic life never make it into our reef-friendly products.
Every time you choose a tube of our organic sun creams, you can trust that you are buying sun protection that is effective and ethical.
The following are our Zinc-free sunscreens:
- SPF15 Sun Cream with Tan Accelerator
- Scent Free Sun Cream SPF30
- Children's Scent Free Sun Cream SPF30
Do you look for sun cream without Zinc oxide, Oxybenzone and Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate? Take a look at our reef-safe sunscreens now or ask our UK customer care team any questions about sunscreen ingredients on 01403 740350.
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