Environmentally friendly sunscreen

Has anyone on here done any research on environmentally friendly sunscreens that will stay on for long swims? I was just reading this article in the Guardian, and after two weeks of slathering myself in the stuff while on holiday, it's got me thinking.

On a related note, I'm looking for a reliable vegan alternative to products like Desitin and Sudacrem (i.e. no lanolin / beeswax). Any suggestions?

P.S. while I was doing some searching on the subject of sunscreen, I came across a suggestion from @david_barra that Mediterranean genes help ...but I'm afraid that the Throsby's are of pasty Northern European stock and pharmaceuticals are our only hope.



  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member

    Last I read, it's been a few years, all of the clear titanium dioxide creams used nanoparticles which seemed to cause their own problems. That the white opaque ones were the ones that were OK.

  • swimrn62swimrn62 Stowe, VTMember

    You can buy powdered zinc and make your own sunblock from the base of your choice.
    Search for non-nano zinc oxide powder, there's a wealth of information online. I just got
    a jar and plan to experiment this summer.

  • SuperfishSuperfish St. John US Virgin IslandsMember

    The sunscreen topic is a complicated one. Most importantly, you can't rely on the labels to be truthful (imagine that!). The details are in the very very small print of the active ingredients list.

    I work with a coral reef researcher who is doing much of the work on this subject, Dr. Craig Downs. His lab haereticus-lab.org has a list of all the potentially harmful products found in sunscreens and other skin care products (yep, it isn't just sunscreen....) . Oxybenzone and other "oxy-" derivitives are harmful to coral reefs and water quality. I am attaching a few different links to articles from different sources. Typically near the bottom of the articles are references to safer alternatives.

    From The Daily Mail: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4460166/Hawaii-wants-ban-certain-sunscreens-save-coral-reefs.html

    From The Guardian: https://theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/28/sunscreen-damage-coral-research-oxybenzone

    For the fashion conscious, from Vogue: vogue.com/article/reef-safe-sunscreens-oxybenzone-free-sea-turtles-environment-stream2sea

    From Minnesota Public Radio: blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2017/04/scientists-think-they-know-what-killed-coral-reefs-it-was-us/

    From PopSci: popsci.com/hawaii-sunscreen-ban-coral

    And a short article from NewsFast: https://news.fastcompany.com/your-sunscreen-may-be-killing-coral-reefs-4036231

  • SuperfishSuperfish St. John US Virgin IslandsMember

    And thinking of this sunscreen discussion, and other water quality threads as I was recently read this passage:

    "The sea does not change visibly as we do things to it, not in the way that cutting down a forest is immediately and undeniably visible. Water poured into the sea rarely appears urgent as an environmental problem, and measures we might take to help it often achieve little that's readily seen".

    (from: Other Minds: the Octopus, the sea and the deep origins of consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

    It is tedious to track the size of the nanoparticles in your titanium or zinc based sunscreen, but those of us who spend so much time in the water accept this as a part of keeping our special part of the planet healthy.

  • pavlicovpavlicov NYC USASenior Member
    edited August 2018

    I would like to revisit the subject and seek the wisdom of the forum.

    Recently, Hawaii banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. I am going to swim WRS as well as vacation in Hawaii soon and I burn easily and painfully. So far, I was using SolRX but even their "Reef Safe/Friendly" sunscreens contain octinoxate. I feel very dodgy bringing coral-reef-damaging sunscreen to Hawaii even if the ban starts in 2021.

    I am in search of a new sunscreen. I used to also use Blue Lizzard (more in non-marathon swimming activities), but only their sensitive formula does not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Unfortunately, it is not sweat friendly and I just don't know if I can trust it on a long swim.

    Do you have any other recommendation for sunscreen(s) that do not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate and will stay put on for several hours?

    And yes, I know of desitin and I used it many times. My rule is that I use desitin on 5+ hours swims. I just would like to look attractive on my vacation, not like Casper the ghost.

    Thank you for your wisdom!

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    Look for mineral sunscreens. All of mine have either titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as the active ingredient. My favorite is banana boat kids lotion 50SPF for swims under a few hours.

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