World Oceans Day: should you switch to stocking sea-safe sunscreen?

For some salons, it's no longer enough for sunscreen to protect clients, it has to look after the marine environment too. In aid of World Oceans Day (June 8), which informs the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, we delve into the science behind marine-safe sunscreen and round-up some of the best options to stock in your salon or spa. 

Sunscreen is one of the more recent everyday items to come under the scrutiny of environmentalists for its damaging effects on the planet. Ingredients including oxybenzone and octinoxate have long been used in sunscreen formulas to filter the sun’s rays away from the skin, keeping it protected.

But relatively new research now attributes a substantial amount of coral reef damage, including bleaching, to these chemicals, sparking quick responses to try to stop the harm before it’s too late. 

Hawaii passed a bill in May 2018 banning the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in the state, after a study found its marine environment severely damaged; while Florida’s Key West followed suit in February 2019. The ban came into force in January 2021. Coral reefs may be the most diverse ecosystem on the planet, and through the habitat they give to fish and other marine life, indirectly provide food for millions of humans. 

While scientists agree that more thorough research needs to be conducted to determine the relationship between sunscreen and reef damage, environmentally aware consumers are starting to turn their backs on traditional suncare products in favour of reef-safe alternatives, at least when intending to apply them beachside. 

4 of the best marine-friendly suncreens to stock in your salon or spa:

Caudalie Suncare Oil

1. Caudalie Suncare range

Caudalie’s suncare range is intended to protect nature as well as the skin. Formulated without filters believed to be toxic to the marine ecosystem, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, the products contain four filters with guaranteed non-toxicity from the Mediterranean Institute of Biodiversity and Ecology.

There are five products in the range, Milky Sun Spray SPF30 and 50, Anti-wrinkle Face Suncare SPF 30 and 50, and Beautifying Suncare Oil SPF 30.

Each contains Caudalie’s organic grape water and grapeseed oil, along with antioxidant ingredients including vitamin E and spruce extract. 


Comfort Zone Water Soul

2. Comfort Zone Water Soul SPF30 

Formulated for people who play water sports, Comfort Zone’s water-resistant sun cream spray was developed to have minimal impact on the aquatic environment. The spray doesn’t contain filters that are said to be harmful, such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

It is also packaged in a 100% recyclable bottle and made using renewable energy at Comfort Zone’s factory in Italy. To protect the skin, the formula uses a DNA-defence biomimetic peptide that helps correct damage from light radiation.

Abyssinian oil, rich in omegas 6 and 9, helps hydrate and nourish skin by strengthening the lipid barrier. 

Clarins High Performance Sun Care Cream for Body SPF50

3. Clarins High Performance Sun Care

Clarins’s sun care range contains 10 protective formulas in SPF 30 and 50+, along with two after-sun products. Six of the products – Invisible Sun Care Gel-to-Oil, Dry Touch Sun Care Cream, Sun Care Oil Mist, Sun Care Lotion Spray, Sun Care Gel-to-Oil and Sun Care Cream – are marked with a symbol to indicate that the formula does not harm coral.

The products use organic filters to absorb the sun’s UVA and UVB rays before they penetrate the skin, in textures that spread evenly for consistent coverage.

A 100% plant-based complex of senna, baobab, plane tree, olive, pea and aloe vera offers cellular protection to help prevent signs of photoageing. 


Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30

4. Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 

Free from oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone, this suncreen product from Ren has been formulated to provide “clean” protection through a mineral sunscreen that doesn’t harm the environment. It uses 22% non-nano, naturally derived zinc oxide for broad-spectrum protection against UVA, UVB and blue light, with antioxidant passion fruit extract and rice starch for a matte finish.

The product is packaged in a tube made from 50% recycled plastic, with a 100% recycled-plastic cap.

Both are 100% recyclable, and Ren has been awarded a recyclability certification from Suez for the packaging. 

Get your clients knowing the correct SPF facts using our myth-busting guide