Why do we make our sun creams without zinc oxide?

18/05/2020 — By Hannah Mepham

Why do we make our sun creams without zinc oxide?

Ever wondered what makes our sun care range marine-friendly?

Here we lift the lid on our natural sun care ingredients and reveal why we refuse to use the filters Zinc oxide, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (also known as Octonixate) or Benzophenone-3 (also known as Oxybenzone) in our organic sun care range.

How to tell if your sun cream is marine-friendly

Are you worried that your sun cream could be harming marine life? Here our Cosmetic Scientist, Ian Taylor, explains what to check the label for when shopping for reef-friendly sun creams.


The use of Oxybenzone in sun creams is a huge ecotourism concern and in recent years several marine parks have taken the decision to ban sun creams containing this ingredient. This is because if coral reefs encounter it they are at risk of bleaching and more vulnerable to disease and death.

It can be confusing to know if your sun care 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.


Another ingredient in sun creams that is raising concern is Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. Like Oxybenzone, it poses a threat to marine life and several marine parks are introducing measures to ban the use of sun lotions containing this ingredient.

Studies have shown that this chemical ingredient is a hormone-disrupting chemical which mimics oestrogen and could genetically alter the gender of fish. In addition to endangering marine life. It can also irritate the skin. Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is not used in any Green People products.


eco beach message



Zinc oxide is a UV-filtering compound that is used in many natural sunscreens. In its Zinc oxide form it is non-toxic for both the skin and sea life and effectively filters out UV light. However, in the presence of chemical pollutants such as petrochemicals and in heat or sunlight, a reaction could take place which cleaves Zinc ions away to create free Zinc. This is toxic to aquatic life even at low levels and tests have shown that sea plants and animals may be exposed to a high level of Zinc over the course of their lifetime.

Green People makes its sun creams without Zinc oxide. The other skin care benefits of Zinc oxide mean that it can be found in the Calming Nappy Cream and Blemish Banish Concealer, which are designed to be used in tiny quantities and should not come into contact with ocean environments.


sun cream in sand


Our marine-safe sun filters

To safeguard plants, fish, sea birds and sea mammals we do not add Zinc oxide, Oxybenzone or Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate filters to any of our sun care products.

Instead 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.

By using these two ingredients we guarantee that our sun care gives broad-range protection against both UVA and UVB radiation.

Titanium dioxide is very safe and, when used in creams or lotions, its individual particles are so strongly bound together that they cannot break down or penetrate the skin.

Whilst Titanium dioxide is highly unlikely to oxidise, Green People takes extra care to ensure the Titanium dioxide used in our sun care is always safe for the skin and aquatic life by coating our Titanium dioxide in a thin layer of silicates.

This coating physically prevents the Titanium dioxide from meeting oxygen and guarantees that it is chemically stable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

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 this filter 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.


coral reef


What else makes Green People sun creams eco friendly?

When making our sun creams, our aim is to create a non-toxic formula that delivers gentle but effective UVA & UVB protection 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 the ingredients known to be harmful to aquatic life and ensures that marine toxins never make it into our reef-friendly products.

Packaging our products in an environmentally-friendly way is also incredibly important to us and we package our sun creams in recyclable sugar-cane plastic.

We’re also passionate about doing our bit to keep our shorelines clean of litter, so in addition to urging all customers to recycle our products after use, we continue to donate 30p from the sale of our full-size scent-free sun creams to the Marine Conservation Society and regularly participate in team beach cleans.

Shop marine safe sun creams

Scent Free Sun Cream - SPF30 200ml

Scent Free Sun Cream - SPF30 200ml

High factor fragrance-free SPF30 sun cream suitable for sensitive skin


Organic Children Scent Free Sun Cream - SPF30 150ml

Organic Children Scent Free Sun Cream - SPF30 150ml

High factor scent free SPF30 suitable for children with sensitive skin


Scent Free Facial Sun Cream - SPF30 50ml

Scent Free Facial Sun Cream - SPF30 50ml

High factor, scent-free SPF30 facial sun cream for sensitive skin


Edelweiss Sun Cream with Tan Accelerator - SPF15 200ml

Edelweiss Sun Cream with Tan Accelerator - SPF15 200ml

Organic SPF15 sun cream with tan accelerator



Do you look for sun cream without Zinc oxide, Oxybenzone and Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate? Join the conversation at @GreenPeopleUK or ask our UK customer care team any questions on 01403 740350.