Sustainable Living means making decisions about the different activities of our everyday life, that will protect our planet and the natural resources available on Earth. Ocean-friendly skincare products are all about protecting our coral reefs and oceans.

This is the only home we’ve got – and we’ve got to prioritize environmental protection of the Earth because, as Spain’s Sustainable Fashion Guru – Ecoalf perfectly puts it, “because there is no planet B.”

I’m one of those active, outdoorsy types. I’ve been skiing and surfing since I was four years old, and I love trying new things. 2019 was such a fantastic year for me because I found a new passion.

While working in Egypt, I was introduced to kitesurfing, and it just blew my mind. I’m into adventure and thrills, but kitesurfing took it to a new high, and I loved it.

Maria kitesurfing in the ocean

My sporty, ocean-loving lifestyle means that I spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun and the water. Because of this, I have to choose my clothing and skincare products carefully to be sure that I’m protecting my skin.

Since I began my Conscious Living journey, I’ve been more deliberate about the products I use, considering their potential impact on the environment. I hadn’t thought about ocean-friendly skincare products until recently.

Recently, there’s been a massive outcry about the chemicals in sunscreen products. There has also been greater interest in the effect these chemicals have on coral reefs and marine life around the world. For everyone who loves the beach holidays, ocean-friendly skincare products should be a priority. If you’re not in the loop on this, keep reading, let me bring you up-to-speed.

Sunscreen Threat to Coral Reefs

Recent research has shown that most sunscreen brands contain chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, that are toxic to the algae that feed coral on the oceans’ coral reefs.

A coral reef with its beautiful flora and fauna

These are the same algae that give the coral reefs their beautiful array of colors. Sadly, the same chemicals that protect our skin from harmful UV (Ultraviolet) light are also harmful to these algae.

When the temperatures rise in the ocean, the presence of these chemicals in the water causes the algae to leave the corals, resulting in a bleaching effect as the corals lose their color. The coral eventually dies.

What’s even worse about the offending chemicals in sunscreen is that they cause coral bleaching to occur at lower temperatures. So, greater areas of coral reefs are affected and bleached even with the slightest rise in temperature of the ocean, due to the presence of these chemicals in the water.

And when you add mercury contamination that’s present in parts of the ocean, it just makes everything a whole lot worse. When coral dies, entire marine ecosystems are affected.

All the marine species which depended on the coral reefs either die or migrate to other parts of the ocean. This is because their source of food, refuge, nurseries for their offspring, and protection is affected when the corals die.

Global Warming effects are being felt across the world, and atmospheric temperatures are rising everywhere.

A coral reef during daytime light

Global warming causes water temperatures to rise in the ocean. Warmer water temperatures trigger the bleaching effect on coral reefs, where toxic sunscreen chemicals are present in the water.

A case in point would be what happened in Australia in 2016 – 2017. In that season, record high temperatures caused a whopping 50% of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef to bleach.

Sunscreen Bans to Save Coral Reefs

A set of sunscreen products

It is estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the oceans across the world each year. To manage the growing crisis of coral bleaching, some cities are making changes. Hawaii and the island country of Palau recently affected legislation to ban certain sunscreens from entering their regions. They have decided to protect their coral reefs from bleaching caused by toxic chemicals in most sunscreens.

Palau’s ocean territory within the Pacific has some of the best diving sites worldwide. Palau offers its visitors views of over 100 varieties of fish, as well as beautiful coral formations within its reefs. One of the lagoons of Palau’s islands has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Palau’s ban on sunscreens containing toxic chemicals took effect in January 2020, and affected any sun creams containing these chemicals:

  1. Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3)
  2. Ethyl paraben
  3. Octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate)
  4. Butyl paraben
  5. Octocrylene
  6. 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor
  7. Benzyl paraben
  8. Triclosan
  9. Methyl paraben
  10. Phenoxyethanol

The disturbing thing is that apart from being known environmental pollutants, most of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors. They are highly toxic to the young of many forms of wildlife, corals, marine life, and even people. Take a look at the detailed explanation by the International Coral Reef Initiative to understand WHY these chemicals are toxic. The report also explains how toxic chemicals in sunscreens destroy algae, coral, and marine life.

My Conscious Living Turning Point

This has become the turning point for my Conscious Living journey. To be honest, I don’t pay that much attention to my skincare labels.

I’m big on my Food Labels and pay attention to fat, sugar, and salt content in the products I buy. Like many people, I generally avoid lots of processed foods and things with preservatives. I also try to eat organic whenever possible in the countries I travel to.

But when it comes to skincare products, I assumed that products made in the developed world are well researched and therefore, ‘safe.’

My active lifestyle means that I am outdoors so much, mostly in the sea, meaning I must wear sunscreen. So this news about sunscreen poisoning has become a real game-changer for me.

If you’re like me and haven’t been paying attention to your skincare ingredients, maybe this is an excellent time to start reading through your labels.

Read through your hair care products too. The four parabens on that list, along with Triclosan and Phenoxyethanol are used as antimicrobial preservatives in:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Shampoos
  3. Conditioners
  4. Lotions
  5. Liquid soaps
  6. Moisturizers

Other countries have also followed Palau and Hawaii’s example and have announced similar bans. They include the US Virgin Island and also Bonaire, the Dutch Caribbean island. Hawaii’s ban is set to come into effect in 2021.

Maya Beach in Thailand and Boracay Bay in the Philippines have also been closed to tourism. The coral reefs here have also been damaged to a severe extent by sunscreen pollution. These two countries took the drastic step of closure to protect the marine ecosystems that were affected and also to allow their reefs to ‘heal,’ re-grow, and to be restored.

My Top 5 Ocean Friendly Sunscreens & Eco Skin Care Products

Examples of ocean friendly cremes and lotions

So many of us love the beach! So many tourists spend 1000s of dollars each year on beach holidays, to be able to get away for relaxing breaks.

Everyone is using sunscreen when outdoors, especially at the beach. With the rising concern over sunscreen pollution (as it is now being called), there’s a shift in the mindset of consumers. As tourist destinations effect bans on toxic sunscreen chemicals, skincare manufacturers are scrambling to create ocean-friendly skincare products.

The trend is now towards ‘clean’ ingredients, Eco sunscreens, and skincare collections. Let’s take a look at some of the brands with Ocean-friendly skincare ranges, as well as Coral-friendly products. This will give you an idea of what’s out there that is safe to buy when you go to the beach.

Avasol Products

Avasol is the number 1 brand recognized for coral-friendly, ocean-friendly sun-care and skincare products. Their products are designed for ‘Responsible Sun-care’ to protect your skin without harming the ocean or environment.

Ben Lecomte of the Vortex Swim used Avasol sunscreen during his 100 days swim through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in mid-2019. Take a look at the Avasol Collection here.

What I Love About Avasol Products

4 pieces of Surfer’s Barrier Stick by Avasol

Image: Surfer’s Barrier Stick, Avasol

  1. Tested by swimmers and surfers and proven for use in water sports.
  2. They are made from natural and organic ingredients, sourced from Fair Trade regions.
  3. It’s available either as a solid stick or lotion.
  4. Packed in plastic-free, biodegradable, refillable containers for both the stick and the lotion. Two-thumbs up for the compostable tube packaging.
  5. Avasol is ocean-safe, coral-safe, and environmentally friendly. Contains none of the toxic chemicals banned by Palua.
  6. Has handy travel refill packs that you can carry with you when you travel. Great to have at home in case you’re running low.

Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Honua means ‘Earth’ or ‘Land.’ The company is named after the Hawaiian reference for Mama Honua. It means Mother Earth because they source their inspiration and ingredients from nature.

Kapua Browning is the founder of Honua Hawaiian Skincare. It’s a Hawaiian-based skincare line made explicitly with natural ingredients.

The two bottles and creme which make the Ocean Lovers Set by Honua Hawaiian Skincare

Image: Ocean Lovers Set Honua Hawaiian Skincare

What I Love About Honua Hawaiian Skincare Products…..

What I love MOST about this range of skincare products is that they have a collection of ocean-friendly products. They are designed to ‘Do no Harm’ to marine life and the coral reefs. I also loved that:

  1. Honua products are all organic.
  2. They support reforestation.
  3. Their ingredients are locally sourced from local farms.
  4. Sustainably sourced ingredients are vital to them. They support sustainable farming, and the farmers are encouraged to replenish the plants they harvest.
  5. If you prefer vegan or cruelty-free products, this is the brand for you – all their products are cruelty-free.

Honest Beauty

Founded by Jessica Alba, Honest Beauty skincare products are not only organic and natural, but they are also ocean-friendly. Jessica Alba struggled to find a skincare brand that she could trust for all her everyday needs.

The brands that existed at that time always had something she wouldn’t be comfortable about:

  1. Sometimes it was the parabens contained in the products.
  2. Other times it was the preservatives used.
  3. Then she questioned the safety of the synthetic compounds used in others.
  4. Many times it was the fact that hardly anyone was honest enough to disclose ALL the ingredients in their skincare and makeup products.
  5. Some companies even ‘disguised’ potentially questionable ingredients using other names.

All these issues inspired Jessica to come up with a line of skincare that was:

  • Honest
  • Safe
  • Organic
  • Natural

What I Love About Honest Beauty

Apart from the simple, clean design of their product packaging, there’s so much to love about the Honest Beauty Collections.

1. They are open about the ingredients they use.

Pull up ANY product, and along with the product description and uses, they will also give:

1.1. Details of the product;
1.2. It’s uses; and
1.3. A full list of the ingredients that are used to make it.

I love these guys for that transparency. Clearly, with these guys, Honest is what Honest does, right.

2. Ocean-friendly skincare products

Honest Beauty products do not contain any parabens, silicones, paraffin, or talc. Honest Beauty goes a step further and shares a full discussion of the harmful chemicals they Do Not use in their products. The substances included in Honest Beauty’s ‘No List’ include those that are known as environmental pollutants and toxic to marine life and corals. Take a look at Honest Beauty’s ‘No List’ here.

3. Baby Care range: Diapers & wipes range, bath & body care, baby gift sets.

The Baby Care products of Honest Beauty are safe for baby and safe for the environment. They even have a handy Baby Cleaning Collection, whose products are fragrance-free and without dyes. This makes them safe enough for baby’s delicate skin. The Baby Cleaning Collection takes care of baby laundry, toys, surfaces, and even dishes. Take a look at this range full of cuteness here.

4. Momma Care Collection

These guys have thought of moms-to-be as well from stretch mark cream with Shea butter to Nipple cream that’s safe for both mom and baby. This collection is excellent for both of you. If you’ve ever experienced sore nipples when nursing, you know how it hurts. It isn’t something you would want any new mom to go through. This collection has the perfect items for a gift set to a new mom.

Plaine Products

These entirely sustainable products were designed by two sisters, Alison and Lindsey Delaplaine. Their motivation was to have less plastic in the world’. Plaine Products focus on bathroom products, including:

  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Handwash
  • Body washes

This company encourages buyers to return their product bottles for reuse by including prepaid mailing labels inside the packages.

What I Love About Plaine Products

Don’t be deceived by the ‘plain’ design of the bottles. There’s so much to love about Plaine Products.

Plain products are cruelty-free, vegan, and have non-GMO products.

They are hypoallergenic and safe for babies too.

Ocean-friendly products: they are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and silicones that are toxic to corals and marine life.

They sterilize, refill, and reuse their aluminum product bottles, once returned by previous buyers.

Their aluminum bottles are durable and reusable over and over again, reducing the need for single-use plastics in your bathroom and home.

Even when these aluminum bottles are at the end of their lifespan, they can become valuable products. Through recycling, they can turn in something useful at a fraction of the initial cost it takes to produce them.

Plaine Products model supports both the Circular Economy and the environment.

Their packaging is manufactured by EcoEnclose and is composed of 95% post-consumer waste and 5% post-industrial waste. EcoEnclose uses no new materials in making their shipping cartons, thereby supporting the Circular Economy.





The Detox Market – Other Ocean Friendly Brands

The Detox Market is a collection of brands that meet standards of ‘clean,’ sustainable, natural, and organic ingredients.

To be eligible for inclusion onto the Detox Market, the products should also be free of any banned chemicals listed on a continually updated Banned Ingredient List.

To be on The Detox Market, a product should also be cruelty-free, be from pure ingredients, and deliver exceptional results to the end-users.

The brands on The Detox Market are therefore thought to be safe, ocean-friendly, and environmentally friendly. The Detox Market receives applications from a huge number of brands to be added to this store. The experts review over 800 brands annually and test over 1000 products. But ultimately, less than 2% of the products and brands qualify for curation.

Let’s take a look at just 7 of the brands featured on The Detox Market.

  1. Suntegrity (Safe Face & Body SPF 30 Sunscreens)
  2. Osea
  3. Kjaer Weiss
  4. Conscious Coconut
  5. Malaca
  6. Sun Potion
  7. Well Kept

Ocean-Friendly Skincare You Can Trust

We have heard all the worrying reports about the environment, global warming, plastic pollution, and now, the latest one is coral-reef poisoning.

The good news is that you and I can do something in our small way, to reduce the extent of the problem.


  • Get familiar with the harmful products to avoid.
  • Start reading labels of our skincare products.
  • Consistently make conscious, smart shopping decisions in our skincare.
  • Get involved in supporting causes that are pro-ocean sustainability.
  • Tell a friend to tell a friend: Share on social media the links to sustainable and ocean-friendly products.

You might also enjoy reading these articles from our blog, on related issues of environmental concern:

  1. Zero Waste Bathroom & Beauty Products
  2. Top 5 Reasons to Protect our Oceans
  3. Top 7 Sources of Microplastic Pollution
  4. Plastic Free Oral Care


What are your favorite ocean-friendly skincare brands? We would love to know: Drop us a line on any of our Social Media handles and share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Let’s Do This Together!

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