After a recent trip to West Bay where we had to comb through resort gift shop after gift shop in search of reef-safe sunscreen for our son who was visiting, we realized that Roatan has a major chemical sunscreen problem. It took us one whole hour and five shops later to finally find a sunscreen product that would not be damaging to the reef or our son’s health.
If we struggled to find reef-friendly sunscreen on the island, and we live here, what are the thousands of people who visit ever year wearing on their skin when they visit our beautiful island to snorkel, dive, swim, soak and float right next to one of our most loved and most important resources: the coral reef?
Usually ones to opt for hats or UV-protection clothing, we realized just how blind we’ve been to the lack of reef-friendly sunscreen and beauty products on the island. And we watched in horror as hundreds of people slathered with the telltale sign of chemical sunscreens splashed and played right next to one of our most beloved and valuable resources: the coral reef.
We HAD to do something about this and fast.
That hunt to find where to buy reef-safe sunscreen in Roatan prompted outreach to a company that one of our employees had recently been raving about and encouraging us to use for our defog: Stream2Sea.
The idea for the Sea2Stream skincare line came about after a similar experience on a Palau liveaboard for founder and fellow scuba diver Autumn Blum. “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.”
Like us, Autumn knew she had to do something. As a chemist, entrepreuner and ocean advocate she along with the team at Steam2Sea created a skincare line that they empirically know is safe for our marine environment and safe for our own bodies.
Why We Love Stream2Sea
Today, Stream2Sea is the only mineral-based sunscreen on the planet that’s been tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and coral larvae, and has passed the stringent HEL Labs Protect Land + Sea certification.
Steam2Sea formulas are also good for you! Their formulas are enriched with a proprietary and potent antioxidant-rich blend of: wakame seaweed, aloe vera, tulsi (holy basil), green tea, and olive leaf that protect and nourish from head to toe. They also actively avoid known endocrine disruptors and chemical ingredients that impact our water ecosystems and cause bodily harm.
It gets even better: All of their products are biodegradable and available in either recyclable sugar cane resin packaging or PCR plastic (from recycled milk jugs).
Our Stream2Sea Product Line
Soon, you will see Stream2Sea SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen and Hydrate Lip Balm for sale in our shop, as well as their Reef-Friendly Mask Defog on our boats.
Check out this blog article to learn more about Stream2Sea’s ingredients, rigorous and unmatched product testing, as well as skincare ingredients you should be running from.
As a scuba diver you’re automatically an ocean enthusiast and possibly even an advocate. And unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that most sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that are damaging to that ocean environment that you love so much. But you also don’t want to end your dive trip with a funky mask tan or even worse, a mask-shaped burn – those hurt and aren’t very stylish.
To make matters worse, there are about a gazillion different sunscreen options on the shelf with half of them now claiming to be “reef-friendly”. But what does that even mean? And how do you know which one to choose?
It’s a dilemma we constantly see people facing at our dive center and have even been faced with ourselves. Which is why we’re bringing Sea2Stream suncare products to our customers and have developed this helpful resource guide for how to determine if your sunscreen is truly reef safe.
Introducing the HEL-List
According to the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, the HEL LIST is a list of chemicals that are known pollutants in many different environments (freshwater streams, river, beaches, and ocean systems) or wildlife (e.g., corals, fish, birds, marine mammals, sea turtles). All of them pose a threat to ecosystem health.
It’s a great list to google next time you’re at the store stocking up on sunscreens or to audit what you have in your cupboards right now.
The HEL LIST includes:
- Any form of microplastic sphere or beads.
- Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
- Methyl Paraben
- Ethyl Paraben
- Propyl Paraben
- Butyl Paraben
- Benzyl Paraben
HEL has developed a certification for reef-friendly sunscreen called the Protect Land + Sea certification, that we like because they independently test products for ingredients on its HEL-List. And the list gets updated each certification period as more research uncovers which chemicals pose a threat to wildlife. When this happens, companies must resubmit their products for certification. See which companies are willing to make this investment to protect our fragile ecosystems (spoiler, it’s a short list!).
If you want a great explainer on WHY you should avoid these ingredients, check out Stream2Sea’s Ingredients to Avoid guide.
Your Health Matters Too
It’s great to make a more eco-conscious selection of sunscreens because you want to make a difference for our planet. But what’s better for the enviroment is also better for you when it comes to sunscreens. Your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs anything you put on it, both synthetic and natural. The FDA has only found two common suncreen ingredients that could be classified as safe and effective: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. But while these might be safe for use on our skin, these nanoparticles can cause development disorders in sealife.
A great rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it, you might not want to put it in or on your body. If you’d rather play it safe, look for UV protective clothing, wear a heat and seek the shade!
Why We Love Stream2Sea
After our own wild chase to track down reef-safe sunscreen here on Roatan, we decided to reach out to Stream2Sea to see if they’d partner with us to provide our customers with a better sunscreen option. And they said yes! This is why we’re thrilled about this partnership:
- We Share Values! Like Sun Divers, Stream2Sea is a business that believes that you can be good at business while also doing good, by prioritizing purpose as much as profits.
- It’s Protect Land + Sea Certified! Their SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen, which is available at our dive center, has undergone the rigorous, independent testing to determine that it is truly reef-friendly.
- No Zinc or Titanium nanoparticles! The EcoSafe Zinc™ used by Stream2Sea is naturally-coated, USP grade and Cosmos certified.
- Lotsa antioxidants! Too much exposure to the sun can release free radicals that rage on the collagen and elasten fibers in your skin. This leads to more wrinkles, dark skin spots and saggy skin, which no one wants. The good news is that antioxidants can halt free radicals from wreaking havoc on your good looks. And Stream2Sea is packed with them from ingredients like green tea, holy basil, olive leaf and aloe.
Sun Divers is now carrying Sea2Stream SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen and Hydrating Lip Balm, as well as using their mask defog on our boats. Every little step counts and we hope you’ll join our movement!