To be completely honest, I saw this sunscreen a few years ago in an Instagram ad and was so sold on their “save the reefs” message I bought 3 of them to use and to gift. Looking back, I didn’t really do any research to verify the veracity of their claims, so now that I’m at Voiz I decided to dig deeper to see if they walk their talk.
They don’t use ingredients present in other sunscreen products that are known to harm the ocean, but they also don’t display any standards used when choosing suppliers, for example using only renewable energy in their factories. Thus, they might be indirectly harming the ocean by emitting too much GHG, which leads to acidification. Overall, I would like to see more transparency about their suppliers, manufacturing methods, carbon footprint, so it all aligns with their ultimate goal of being eco-friendly.
The main purpose of this sunscreen is to outperform the others in the market in terms of being better for the ocean, so the packaging is a plastic free tin and the ingredients are safe for fish. They claim to use “100% all natural plant-based ingredients using organic farming methods.” The list of ingredients includes only things I have heard of such as coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax (to make it water resistant), nothing like those long lists that take me back to chemistry class (*shivers*). Furthermore, the lavender and peppermint essential oils give it a really nice smell.
I guess the “all plant-based” claim is actually not true since they use beeswax. Looking into the PETA website I learned more about how wild bees are better pollinators than the “imported” honey bees, but that they don’t produce that much honey, so they are not used for large scale honey production. The PETA website recommends using vegan products that don’t have beeswax, so it would be interesting to see if Raw Love has any standards for the beekeepers they source from or is looking to find a truly plant-based ingredient that also acts as a water repellent.
Their only active ingredient is Zinc, which, according to their website, “is truly a broad-spectrum blocker, protecting from UVA, UVB, and even UVC.” This is a 35 SPF, so it is less than my dermatologist recommends for my *very* pale skin, but the website addresses this by saying that each skin type is different and some people need to re-apply more often and use a thicker layer.
One interesting fact about the Zinc they use is that it is “non nano”, because “research has shown evidence that some substances may cause health risks when converted to nanoparticles” according to Raw Love’s website.
So what about the actual “reef safe” part of this sunscreen composition?
“When chemical sunscreens wash off your body when swimming or in the ocean, they may harm aquatic life. Some commonly used chemical sunscreen ingredients cause coral bleaching and may be damaging coral reefs around the globe.” Some of those ingredients present in other sunscreen products that also have “several suspected human health effects” are: Oxybenzone / Benzophenone-3, Butylparaben, Octinoxate, and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor / 4MBC; so watch out for those next time you buy a sunscreen.
The website gives no information about where the ingredients are sourced, if they have any standards when choosing suppliers such as using mostly or only green energy, maximum hours per shift, health and sanitary conditions in the factories, no child or coerced labor, etc.
The whole idea of this sunscreen is to be sustainable, but consumers want to make sure that all three aspects of ESG are being followed in an ethical way.
To compare prices, I typed on Target’s search bar “sustainable sunscreen” and the first two options are Bare Republic Mineral Face Gel Sunscreen Lotion - SPF 30 - 1.7 fl oz for $16.99 and Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - 3 fl oz for $14.99. Raw Love 4 oz option is $24.99 and the 2 oz one is $16.99. The company says on their website that they “do not use fillers, so a little goes a long way”
On their website it says the company was “founded in 2015 on Maui, Hawaiʻi by a passionate water and reef enthusiast”, Jenna David. She studied marine biology and is a scuba diver, so it makes complete sense that she was worried about the effects of harmful ingredients used in sunscreens on marine life.
They are also Hawaiʻi’s first FDA compliant sunscreen company.