Pick this sunscreen for a happier and healthier ocean this fourth of July

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I’ve spent many, many summers wishing I was at the beach for July 4th…

It’s one of those holidays equivalent to New Years Eve where there’s a chance at some good plans – but sometimes unknown until the week of. Determinant of whether or not you’ll be invited to that family friend’s beach house, the number of beds available or if you can bear the traffic and transportation.

Some July 4th’s are different though – growing up in western Pennsylvania we usually hit the pool, grilled on the back patio and it was still – heaven.

No matter what you’re doing (I would love to hear your plans!) I’m sure that one thing will be present on the table before hitting the pool or tucked away in your beach bag: sunscreen.

I’m sure at some point in the summer (whether it’s prepping for this weekend or not) you’ll be standing there in the CVS staring at the shelf with so many options – tanning oil, SPF 50, thinking, “Wait, isn’t sunscreen ineffective anywhere higher than 50?” These are all still things that confuse me when I was looking but there was something that didn’t: the chemicals listed on the back of these matter to our health and our earth.

Damn, that’s a deep thought in the middle of CVS, Chrissy.

So what ingredients should I steer away from when purchasing sunscreen?

Any chemical sun block filters such as:

  • Oxybenzone*
  • Octinoxate*
  • Avobenzone
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate

*The worst offenders

While all of these ingredients are suggested to be toxic and easily absorbed into our skin, I’m writing today to discuss their impact on our ocean. Think about putting sunscreen on multiple times a day and then jumping into the water down the shore. Something I never even thought about until a surfer dude in the Florida Keys brought it to our attention.

How does Oxybenzone and Octinoxate impact our ocean and marine life?

According to Ocean’s Conservancy, these chemicals decrease the coral reef’s ability to defend against bleaching (losing it’s vibrant color, energy and functionality as a home and filter), damages their DNA and hurting their development.

Oxybenzone is also toxic to fish, mammals, sea urchins, US AS HUMANS (suggested, but being tested by FDA) I mean you name it! It’s basically like instead of polluting air, polluting water and ourselves when it gets absorbed.

According to the Ocean Foundation, an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually. A single drop of this chemical in more than 4 million gallons of water is enough to endanger organisms (Ocean Foundation). 

Yikes – so what should I look for and pick off of the shelf to not become a fried lobster this summer?

Try to look for sunscreens that have “mineral” sun blocks rather than “chemical.” Mineral sun blocks include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

This might be getting too into the weeds but on top of searching for mineral sun blocks – ensure that you are choose “Non-Nano” mineral blocks. These will ensure that they as ingredients are of such a size that will not be ingested by anything nor enter your bloodstream (which is good overall for you and the marine life).

This seems like a lot to be on the lookout for…

No worries– I have a brand for you that checks ALL of these boxes and is easily accessible for purchase really wherever you find sunscreen. You’ve probably seen them but…the golden child, A+ brand of sunscreen is…. SUN BUM!



No Oxybenzone, or chemical sun blocks, all mineral and non-nano.

By the way, I’ve never smelled a better sunscreen.




Although Sun Bum tends to be a little more expensive than the usual, I view it as totally worth it to keep the fish that we eat and need healthy and happy in the land that covers 71% of our Earth.

Have you used sun bum? What has your experience been?


PS: This spray can is recyclable if you take off the lid before throwing into the recycling bin.


The Sustennial





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