July 25, 2020

By Scuba bill

Another often asked question - is what sunscreen should I choose?  This seems like a straightforward question - and often you will hear folks say - a "reef safe" one.  Unfortunately, we don't have sufficient data to know what the long term effects on either the human body or our oceans are from any of the commonly available sunscreen ingredients.  So, scuba bill's answer - wear a cover-up.   Choose a broad brimmed hat, shirt, pants and face covering (good for CV-19 protection as well) that provides SPF50+ protection against UV A, B (and, if you can find it, C, although don't worry too much as the ozone layer does a really good job of protecting us from UVC).  This is the safest for both you and the environment.  However, for many folks, this isn't a fully practical solution or they want the comfort of additional protection.  In which case, some sort of additional chemical barrier needs to be added.  Based upon the research I have done ( see the links at the bottom of this blog although keep in mind this research continues to evolve), I suggest looking for active ingredients that are either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.   And then check the label to make sure that the inactive ingredients aren't anything you don't want on your skin or absorbed into your body.  Recently, the environmental working group posted some guidelines (  And, if you want to be helpful to the planet, look for companies that test their products in a humanely (i.e. no animal testing) and use ingredients that are sustainably sourced.  I hesitate to make any recommendations here, because this product list is ever evolving.  However, feel free to reach out to me for the most current list.  Stay safe and hopefully skin cancer free!!

As always, this blog isn't meant to be medical advice ... please consult with your own healthcare professional for your specific situation.

DAN Article on Sunscreen (fall 2019)

AMA JAMA study - Plasma absorption

AMA JAMA - Systemic absorption  

A common sunscreen ingredient turns toxic in the sea