What is reef safe sunscreen? Where can you find it? Why should you care?


There is no possible argument: sunscreen protection is absolutely essential for skin care and cancer prevention. Nobody likes to look like a burned lobster either. So in the harsh sun of tropical scuba diving destination, sunscreen is a must! But did you know that sunscreen is harming the beautiful reef we love to admire?

Most sunscreens are chemical based and contain harmful ingredients. Some are even bad for our health, as well as the reef’s. The worst – but not sole – harsh chemical found in those sunscreen is an ingredient called oxybenzone. Researchers found that, even in small doses, oxybenzone contributes to bleaching and disrupts reproduction and growth of the reef. Every year, a scary amount of sunscreen leaks into the ocean. Several studies estimate it is as much as 6000 to 14000 tons. Even if you’re showering far from the sea, the wastewater brings those chemicals all the way to the ocean.

reef safe sunscreen

At Wicked Diving, we have always prided ourselves in being an ethical and eco-friendly operator. So we did some research and found out that mineral sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin and the reef at the same time. As someone who burns a lot, I can testify that this switch has absolutely changed my life. However, some people are not the biggest fans of mineral sunscreens because they can leave a small cream layer that makes your skin appear whiter. The reason for this is that mineral sunscreens act as mirrors reflecting the light and stays on your skin, instead of penetrating the skin like chemical sunscreens. The advantage is that they start working faster than chemical sunscreens. However, if you apply your mineral sunscreen correctly, you won’t look “ghostly”. Here are the steps we recommend:

  1. A small amount goes a long way. Take less on your fingers than you would with a chemical sunscreen.
  2. Tap the tips of your fingers together to warm up and loosen the cream.
  3. Gently tap the cream onto your face in dots in the key spots such as nose, forehead, cheeks, upper lip, chin and neck.
  4. When finished, gently rub to spread the cream all over your face. Don’t forget the ears!

reef safe sunscreen

Wicked Diving are happy to recommend an amazing brand. Autumn is a diver just like us. She saw a lack of options out there for products that would be gentle on the ocean. So she decided to remedy this herself and launched Stream2Sea, a range of products for sun protection and body care that you can use in every day life and on a scuba dive trip.

There are of course several types of sunscreens available on their website. To counter the unpopular image of the “whitening” mineral sunscreen, Stream2Sea developed a tinted reef safe sunscreen. They also released a lip balm so that your lips will stay soft and free of sunburn.

The website also has a burn relief gel and everything you might need in terms of body care from body wash to lotion. Stream2Sea also created a hair care range with reef friendly shampoo and conditioner. Those of us with long hair know the struggle of detangling your hair after a dive. We have all tried applying conditioner to our mane before a dive to help with combing afterwards. Sadly, we now know that the traditional conditioners are bad for the reefs. Luckily, we can be free of tangles and guilt by switching to the Stream2Sea conditioner. We also love that all the products are packaged in bio-based plastic made from sugar cane.

Lastly, since no sunscreen can truly counter the full effect of a midday sun, Stream2Sea also sell rash guards made from recycled materials for sea lovers like ourselves. If we are to wear “plastic” materials, shouldn’t it be recycled?


If you are looking for reef safe sunscreen while in Indonesia, you can support local businesses who have created mineral sunscreens free of harmful ingredients in plastic free packaging! You may find their sun protection products at Leaf Juice (located in Ubud and retailers) or Sensatia Botanicals (stores all over Bali from Uluwatu to Karangasem).


Disclaimer: We want to be transparent with our readers that when buying Stream2Sea products via our link and with our code, Wicked Diving will receive a small percentage of the sales. The original price remains the same but you get a 10% discount and we get a small percentage of that sale for our different projects. We have had Stream2Sea products tested by our friend Laura during 2018 and 2019 and would not be recommending them to you if we did not believe in them.