The ocean might not be the first thing most of us think about when we consider which sunscreen to purchase. SPF protection, scent, moisturizing capabilities and of course price are likely to all top the list of our concerns. But that’s likely because we aren’t aware of just how damaging traditional sun lotions can be to sea life.
Two of the most popular ingredients in many chemical sun creams, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been found to be toxic to the ocean’s coral reef. These chemicals bleach the reef, causing it to become fragile and threatening its resilience against the climate crisis, according to the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
As we swim in the sea, our sunscreen washes off our skin and seeps into the ocean. As a result, up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in coral reefs every year. This could have devastating consequences when combined with the climate crisis, pollution and industrial fishing. In 2019, the state of Hawaii made the decision to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, but these ingredients are still widely in use elsewhere.
Luxury skincare brand Chantecaille puts the environment at the center of everything they do. Their new sun cream, SeaScreen 30, is their first reef-safe SPF product, formulated to specifically exclude these reef-compromising chemicals.
The SPF 30 sunscreen mist, which took three years to develop, is made from 95% natural and 70% organic ingredients and contains 100% mineral sun filters that protect against the harshness of the sun’s rays and have UVA and UVB protection.
“You can’t save the planet without thinking of the ocean,” co-founder and president Sylvie Chantecaille tells The Independent. “The first thing people do at the beach is apply sunscreen, so it is crucial for the formulas people apply not to harm the ocean and all that lives under the sea.”
If these chemicals are so damaging to the ocean, why do so many brands use them? Sylvie explains how making an ocean-friendly sun lotion is no mean feat. “The hard thing about non-chemical sunscreen is that in the past they have always been so unattractive and uncomfortable to wear—think of surfers with zinc on their noses, not blended in, sitting very heavy on top of the skin.
“Creating SeaScreen was truly a process — we had to find the right ingredients, make sure it would spread well and we had to have the right balance of natural ingredients, a high SPF, and a comfortable formula.” Unlike many heavy block-style sunscreens, Chantecaille’s SeaScreen is light and easy to use thanks to the fine mist formula that allows for easy application and quick absorption.
A sunscreen promising countless skincare benefits, SeaScreen 30 is infused with botanicals that soothe and care for the skin, fending off the redness and dehydration that accompanies time spent in the sun. “I am so proud of the wonderful skincare ingredients in SeaScreen— the ingredient list reads more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen because we boosted it with the most soothing and calming botanicals. I don’t think of this as just sun protection, but as a treatment for the face and body with the added benefit of having physical sunscreen in non-nano form,” says creative director Olivia Chantecaille.
All ingredients are vegan, and the product is cruelty-free, in line with Chantecaille’s strict policy against animal testing. It is also suitable for use on the face and body and for the entire family. Among the botanical ingredients is the soothing and protective wild moss rose – beloved for its anti-itching properties; aloe vera juice – for cooling; and raspberry seed oil, which combats sun damage.
SeaScreen 30 was created to partner with marine conservation group WildAid Marine. With 40 marine protected areas across the world, WildAid Marine is helping to provide protection for 8,500 at risk species. The partnership is reflected in the product’s packaging, which is adorned with a photograph of a mother humpback whale and her pup taken by WildAid photographer Shawn Heinrichs.
“We are inspired by Chantecaille’s leadership in addressing the many threats facing our oceans; not only has Chantecaille empowered consumers by giving them a reef-safe sunscreen option but they have gone a step further by directly supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts,” says Meaghan Brosnan, WildAid’s Marine Program Director.
“We’re thrilled to support WildAid and their work off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean around Pemba Island. It’s an honor to be a part of protecting and preserving this amazing area through our donations,” adds director of sales, Alex Chantecaille.
“I originally created this product for my daughter Delphina—and for our Bebe line. Then we realized that sunscreen that’s safe for the ocean and for the skin was something needed for everyone. Now, I consider it created for children of all ages and I am so proud of the wonderful skincare ingredients in this SeaScreen,” Olivia adds.
Rejecting the notion that the beauty industry must be wasteful, remains an important part of the brand’s ethos, so the Chantecaille family has ensured they apply their sustainable values to all elements of a product, right down to the packaging. SeaScreen is packed in a non-aerosol recyclable aluminium bottle.
After years of production and one clear goal: to create a luxurious skincare product that doesn’t damage the oceans, Sylvie is excited to see the product finally hit the shelves. “It was very difficult to formulate with such a strict set of restrictions, but we did it!”