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The Guide To Natural Sunscreens Contents: Safe And Sustainable Options

Natural Sunscreens

If you are someone that loves to use natural products that are also eco-friendly, you will be surprised to learn how harmful sunscreens are! Yes, the very thing that is supposed to protect your skin is harming your skin and other parts of the body.

Not to mention, non-eco-friendly sunscreens are also putting fish and corals in danger! Hence, we must switch to more eco-friendly and reef-safe options. The eco-friendly sunscreens are usually devoid of harsh chemicals that are harmful to humans, too, thus making them great for both people and marine life.

How is Sunscreen Harming Marine Life?

Natural Sunscreens

If you love the environment, you must know that when you apply sunscreen before going for a swim in the ocean, your sunscreen gets washed away and harms marine life. How do you ask? 

Well, when fish ingest it, it harms the development of their brain and liver. And, when corals come into contact with the chemicals in them, they bleach! Yes, sunscreens can cause infections in coral reefs and turn them white, and one way to avoid this is by buying reef-safe sunscreens.

What’s in Sunscreen?

Tom Merton

Now, if you are wondering what the contents of sunscreen make them so harmful to both humans and corals, here are the basics for you.

To begin with, there are two types of sunscreens: mineral ones and chemical ones. The main difference between them is that mineral sunscreens cover your skin to deflect the sun’s rays, while the chemical ones get absorbed into your skin and absorb UV light.

Some of the components of sunscreens include:

  • Zinc Oxide
  • Titanium Oxide
  • Octinoxate also called Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate
  • Oxybenzone also called Benzophenone-3
  • Octocrylene 
  • Homosalate
  • Enzacamene
  • Octisalate
  • Avobenzone 

These are just some of the main contents you usually find listed in sunscreens, and many of them are extremely harmful to humans, fish, and corals alike! 

Guide to Harmful Sunscreen Contents

The three main ingredients in coral reefs that are extremely harmful to humans and the environment are Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, and Octocrylene. These are the ones that you will seriously need to keep an eye on. 

Here is how these components are miles away from being safe and sustainable:

Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate)

If you find Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate or Octinoxate listed as an ingredient under makeup products or sunscreen, stay away from it. It is because there is a possibility that this chemical affects the hormones in your body!

Octinoxate has oestrogenic activity. Although weak, it mimics estrogen when it enters the body and can likely cause hormonal imbalances. You can also find Octinoxate in breast milk after the body absorbs it! So, if you are a breastfeeding mother, avoiding products that have this chemical is best.

Not only that, but Octinoxate is harmful to the environment as well! It bleaches corals and harms fish which is all the more reason why you should avoid it.


Are you trying to avoid sunscreens that give you irritations and allergies? Avoid buying them if you are Oxybenzone listed as an ingredient!

Oxybenzone is known for being the reason why people get allergies due to sunscreens. In addition, if you apply it near your eyes or if it gets into your eyes by accident, it will cause some severe irritation. But that is not all! This chemical also affects estrogen and testosterone production, thus resulting in hormone disruptions.

Moreover, the harm it does to corals is unavoidable as well. Oxybenzone is a “skeletal endocrine disruptor” that bleaches corals and damages their DNA. As a result, coral reefs do not develop how they usually would and have physical deformities. They also starve corals and cause them to die out easily. Not to mention, even the health of fish is not safe due to Oxybenzone.


Octocrylene is everywhere at this point. People have swum in rivers and seas with sunscreen so often that these bodies of water have an alarming amount of Octocrylene. Even if you are trying to avoid Octocrylene through sunscreen, you may still ingest it through seafood, as many fish and fish embryos seem to have this chemical in them.

Moreover, this chemical causes fish to have developmental deformities, and when it enters the human body, it causes them to have allergic reactions. So, no matter what you do, do not use products that have Octocrylene, especially if you are going out for a swim!

What Are Some Safe and Sustainable Sunscreen Options?

So, what should you look for now that you know the chemicals to avoid? Look for sunscreens that have Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. These are two minerals naturally found on Earth, thus making them natural sunscreen components that are extremely eco-friendly. Other than that, look for labels that say sunscreen is eco-friendly and reef-safe.

Some safe and sustainable sunscreen options include:

Suntegrity Unscented Body SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen

Suntegrity’s Unscented Body SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen is a lightweight, vegan option free of harsh chemicals. It is suitable for all skin types and child-friendly. Moreover, it is entirely reef safe and has antioxidants that are good for the skin.

Thinkbaby SPF 50+ Baby Sunscreen

This product is another eco-friendly, reef-safe option that is equally safe for humans. Starting from children as young as six months, anyone can use it to protect themselves from the sun. It is also not tested on animals and is devoid of harsh chemicals.

Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

Ready to make you the master of sustainability, this natural sunscreen is rich with zinc oxide and has certified organic ingredients. If you are someone who has sensitive skin, rest easy as this sunscreen is hypoallergenic and free of allergens like dairy, soy, nuts, and gluten. 


While most sunscreens have harmful chemicals that can harm humans, corals, and marine wildlife alike, it is not very difficult to avoid the ones that have them. There are options for natural sunscreens that are both safe and sustainable, and you will be able to find them if you know what to look for.

So, now that you have a guide to natural sunscreen contents make a well-informed purchase!

You can also read: Low-Calorie Drinks And Beverages – The Complete Guide

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full time health blogger

Hello, I am the founder of Health and Stamina and a full-time health and fitness blogger. Bringing you the most talked-about health and fitness issues from reliable sources. 

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