Water is at the heart of everything we live for. It is crucial for human survival, a healthy ecosystem, food production and social-economic development. Water flows all around the world and is connected to everything. What ends up in a stream one day, will eventually lead to the sea.
Sunscreen, sunblock, or suntan lotion is a topical product for the skin to protect against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. When we go swimming, up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen is washed off our skin and into the water each year. This runoff eventually reaches coral reefs – most with ingredients that are harmful to marine life.
Certain ingredients commonly used in sunscreen, cosmetics and soaps are highly toxic to corals and other aquatic life. These include benzophenone-2, oxybenzone, octinoxate and parabens.
Corals for instance can get sick, expel their life-giving algae and “bleach” (turns white). When coral bleaches and dies, this negatively affects thousands of reef species who depend on corals for sustenance. This in turn affects us who depend on these ecosystems for medicine, food, coastal protection and economy.
Why you should be using reef-safe sunscreen: The sun is shining, the UV index is through the roof. Wearing sunscreen is extremely important to protect your skin. But did you know that certain sunscreens cause damage to our planet’s reefs and wetlands?
Modern wastewater treatments do not remove oxybenzone and other harmful chemical ingredients from water. However, choosing to use a mineral sunscreen that sits on top of your skin, as opposed to a chemical one that is absorbed into your body, can go a long way in protecting water systems around the world.
Stream2Sea is an ecologically sustainable Florida-based company founded by scuba diver and chemist Autumn Blum. What began as a mission to create true “reef safe” sunscreen, has grown and expanded into a mineral-based product line that has been tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish and coral larvae. Today Stream2Sea has passed the stringent HEL Labs Protect Land + Sea certification with scientific work as proof of their ecological integrity.
Being scuba divers, Joey and I love to play in, on and under the waters of our planet. But the fragile balance of the aquatic world and the creatures found within them, shouldn’t be jeopardized while we are protecting our bodies. Opting for eco-conscious products and understanding how our choices affect marine and freshwater environments is the first step in building a better and more sustainable future.
All the products we received from Stream2Sea were contained in packaging that was 100% recycled and also recyclable, meaning that waste is minimized and/or containers are refillable. We tried two versions of their reef-safe sunscreen; the non-tinted SPF 20 and SPF 30.
For both the SPF 20 and SPF 30, at first glance it was hard to see the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen. However when applying it on my body I could feel it coat the skin’s surface. The mineral sunscreen seemed to be thicker and rather than absorb into the pores of my skin remained on top.
Having tried various other brands of mineral sunscreen, the Stream2Sea brand felt comparably light and easy to apply. It also seemed to go a long way with a small dab able to cover a large surface area. That being said, as a mineral sunscreen through and through, the Stream2Sea brand still took a little elbow grease to spread avoiding any ghostly residue.
The two lip balms provided to us for review were green tea and cherry flavoured. Both lip balms were created using a blend of Tulsi, Wakame, Olive Leaf, Oils and Cocoa Butter. In addition, the green tea flavoured balm is blended with Aloe and Calendula.
The two lip balms smelled divine, with the cherry flavoured one having the strongest and most enjoyable punch of aroma. It had a sweet and obvious fruity scent whereas the green tea was more subtle and grassy in odor. In spite of the cherry’s being my preferred smell, the green tea was actually my favourite lip balm to wear as it was softer, smoother and glossier, likely thanks to soothing aloe properties. While soft, the cherry lip balm contains a small sunscreen component to its mixture, and hence felt thicker and a little pasty. I also found I had to use this one sparingly to not give yourself white clown lips.
Alongside the sunscreen and lip balm, Dive Buddies also sampled the Stream2Sea mask defog, of which we were big fans. In the past, Joey and I typically used a smidgen of baby shampoo rubbed into the lens of our mask to keep things clear, so switching to this professional-strength non-toxic reef-friendly defog was a welcomed change.
When it comes to my dive mask, I can be a notorious nose breather. If I don’t rub enough baby shampoo or defog on the lens pre-dive – or if I rinse my mask more than once prior to submersion – I find patches of fog creep in my field of view. Overall I found Stream2Sea’s defog to work equivalent, if not better than its baby shampoo counterpart. For me, this sustainable solution seems to give dive masks a resilient anti-fog coating. The coating has successfully withstood drastic temperature shifts from diving up here in Canada as well as my (at times) heavy-duty nose breathing. Since swapping over to Stream2Sea, I have yet to experience a dive with mask fogging issues.
Stream2Sea Mask Defog: “Sea” clearly with this eco-conscious mask, goggle and glasses defog. made with only the safest ingredients for our planet. This professional strength defog is reef-friendly, non-toxic and composed of a biodegradable formula.
I am a lady of the lake. I’m an ocean lover. I’m a scuba diver. I am someone who thrives in the sun and water. And with so much time spent in these wet environments, for me it is important to protect them every chance I get.
Many skin and beauty products contain chemicals that are extremely harmful to coral reefs, wetlands and other bodies of water. Being mindful of what is found in skincare products and confident in a brand that is safe, sustainable and science-based is important to us as athletes, scuba divers, outdoor lovers, and human beings on this blue planet.
Swim-sational Stream2Sea products that can be used on Land: I love scuba diving as much as the next diving fanatic, but when the lakes and rivers freeze over in Canada, and cold weather takes diving out of the equation, Joey and I need to find other ways to occupy our time. Check out how we used our Stream2sea products on land.
What are you doing to ensure you are using safe and sustainable skincare products? Have you switched over to a brand like Stream2Sea yet?
Writers Note: This scuba diving post was sponsored by Stream2Sea as a part of our Dive Buddies 4 Life Reciprocal & Partner Program. The products in this review were provided to Dive Buddies 4 Life and Travel Buddies 4 Life in exchange for the review. All comments, tests and thoughts in relation to the products are honest and strictly that of Dive Buddies and Travel Buddies 4 Life.
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