Choosing a reef safe sunscreen that respects the oceans

As you approach your visit to Indonesia, you are probably wondering about sunscreen! An invisible scourge, not enough talked about.  DIVERS is a VERY IMPORTANT subject.

We believe that article is less fun, but as a scuba diving center and responsible individual, you must know and share the information below. Please help us protect our marine life.

If some of you are informed, most people ignore the risk linked to sunscreen. Sunscreen is destructive for our underwater world (corals and fish and plankton) and the human body!

In this blog post, we aim to summarize the situation. We are not professional writers, but we collected articles, research, and proven data to prepare this article. The goal is to popularize the data to let everyone understand and taking solution for your next holiday


Never forget that every gesture counts!


Let’s start with a figure: about 14,000 tons of sunscreen are dumped into the oceans every year (!). The scientific fact: we know that it only takes 20 minutes for 1/4 of the sunscreen smeared on the body to end up in the ocean.

Even if you don’t bathe after applying sunscreen, it can run off while you’re showering. Aerosols often spray large amounts of sunscreen into the sand, which ends up in the oceans.

Suppose we are the cause of this contamination. In that case, we are also able to help these fragile marine ecosystems be protected by using effective alternatives.

In 2017, Hawaii legislators passed a bill to ban sunscreen sales containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, another harmful chemical compound. Hawaii is the first state to take such a step, which could go into effect by January 1, 2021.

We have taken this law into account, and we apply it to Dragon Dive Komodo (and some other local actors do the same, a mini victory for Komodo that we must continue to promote)

In 2008, a team of researchers from the Faculty of Science of the Polytechnic University of Marche estimated that sunscreens threaten 10% of corals. At the same time, 25% of marine species depend on coral.

For example, in recent years, the coral reef has been destroyed to the extent of (data from

  • 40% in Hawaii
  • 40% in the Great Barrier Reef
  • 85% in the Caribbean
  • 99% in the Florida Keys
  • AND almost 90% in GILI island (Lombok Indonesia)
  • AND almost not touched yet in KOMODO, SO IT MUST STAY THAT WAY!



In 2015, biologist Craig Downs and his team conducted a study showing that certain chemical compounds in sunscreens were an even more significant threat to corals than global warming and pollution!

One of them “can harm living coral in concentrations as small as 62 parts per trillion, the equivalent of a single drop of water in six Olympic-sized swimming pools” (

No need to go into the details of the scientific names for the moment (we list them at the end) but globally, the impact of sunscreen on the oceans is :

  • The development of infections that destroy the zooxanthella, a microalgae that lives in symbiosis with the coral and is necessary for its development. And thus the death of the coral in the long run.
  • Presence of chemicals in the tissues of marine mammals and fish
  • The presence of products on the sand threatens the nesting of baby turtles
  • Disruption or destruction of corals, sea urchins, and starfish
  • Modification of coral DNA
  • Inhibition of phytoplankton growth
  • Intrusion in the exchange between air and water (surface film)



We talk a lot about the oceans’ effects, but our own bodies’ results are pretty alarming! Many creams are composed of endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic substances, as in many cosmetic products.


First of all, the perfect sun cream does not exist yet! The healthiest protection is not to expose yourself to the strongest rays, to cover yourself, etc… This is not all accepted, so while waiting for the magic formula, it is advisable to minimize its impact on the MAXIMUM.

Dermatologists advise all to wear a T-shirt or a lycra UV 50 while avoiding peak hours!

On the other hand, there is no coherent certification and many brands fall into greenwashing by putting formulas like “eco-responsible”, “organic”, “certified for the oceans”, etc. on their packaging.

Finally, the best guarantee is to take a look at the list of ingredients.

We share with you the list of ingredients not allowed in many eco-marine reserves published by the site :

Only 2 natural mineral filters can be used: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide. The problem is that they should not be used in the form of nanoparticles that, of this size, cross any biological boundary (like the skin).

According to the site, “zinc oxide coupled with titanium dioxide*( *In the state of nanoparticles) have lethal consequences on corals in less than 96 hours”…

To make things a little bit more complicated, the cosmetics lobbies have managed to obtain a derogation for the display in the INCI list (list of ingredients): if in all cosmetics, when a material is present in a nanoparticle state, it must be mentioned [NANO], sunscreens have the right not to say it … Well done!


For us, we base ourselves on the environment and especially on what we find in the creams on the market, obviously testing the product seriously! Our result is without appeal. Only the cream below works under the Indonesian sun (which is VERY strong). It does not contain nanoparticles or products in the list above; we think it is the alternative today, especially since it costs 3x less than the traditional harmful creams!

We have selected the GREENEST cream on the market:

PS: we have no financial interest in any brand. It’s just a lovely meeting at the DEMA Show with the founders who have done doctoral studies. They fight day and night against the lobby and have been able to win the first battle in Hawaii! Both offer lovely communication, educational content, and they are fighting to help the ocean.


  •  RAW ELEMENT is the protection of the moment!visage corps creme solaire spf30 raw elements usa



2) Stream2sea is the second and educational website we advise.

stream2sea 2020


Soon available in Dragon Dive.

Share and please protect our ocean. Happy bubbles 🙂