Looking for a biodegradable sun cream?
  • Eco & ethical
  • Sun & travel

Looking for a biodegradable sun cream?

Are you worried about the effect sun lotions are having on our oceans? Read on to discover why Green People's non-toxic sun lotions have been given the Ethical Consumer Best Buy award.

By Hannah Mepham

5 Minute read

Worried about the effect sun lotions are having on our oceans? There’s increasing concern that chemical sun cream ingredients are harming coral reefs and the marine life that inhabit these underwater ecosystems.

We can’t undo the damage that’s been caused, but by switching to our non-toxic sun cream you can help prevent further incidences of coral bleaching and marine damage. 

Are Green People sun creams biodegradable?

Green People is incredibly concerned for the safety of our seas and oceans. We work closely with the Marine Conservation Society and refuse to use any ingredients known to harm marine life in our sun care formulations.

Every product in our sun care range is reef safe and the only ingredient that is not biodegradable is our mineral UV filter.

Minerals are made of rock, a naturally occurring ingredient which, much like the pebbles and stones in our seas, will not dissolve in water.

reef safe sun cream

Shop ocean-safe sun creams


Why buy marine-safe sun creams?

A coral reef can be home to thousands of marine species and produces a vast amount of the oxygen that we need to survive. 

Worryingly the world’s supply of coral continues to decline and after concerns were raised that sun creams made with chemical ingredients could be contributing to this, policy makers and ocean conservation charities called for more protection for coral populations.

Since 2021 sales of sun creams containing Oxybenzone have been introduced in some international territories with large reef populations.

In the UK, ocean health charities, such as our charity partner Marine Conservation Society, are urging governments to do more to stand up for our seas and protect seas from pollution damage.

What makes sun cream unsafe for marine life?

The chemical ingredient that marine conservationist are most concerned about is Oxybenzone. Used in many high-street sun lotions, Oxybenzone is a chemical filter that helps sun screens to filter out skin-damaging UV rays.

Whilst safe for humans, if coral reefs encounter it, they can become vulnerable to bleaching[iv], putting them at risk of disease and deathv.

If coral dies, fish and other marine life lose a valuable source of food and shelter. There are also concerns that some ingredients in sun lotions could be harming the fish in our seas, and our food chain.

Hormone disrupting chemicals are common in conventional sunscreen and can have a dramatic effect on aquatic life. All of Green People's sun creams are free from Oxybenzone. 

To make matters worse, in recent years glitter has been added to some sun lotions. Far from adding a touch of sparkle to our lives, this toxic ingredient can be consumed by marine life and enter the food chain.

Top tips for shopping ethically for sun cream


Labels can be hard to decipher but, when it comes to keeping our seas safe, it is important you check the label for the following chemical ingredients.

  • Oxybenzone/Benzophenone
  • Octinoxate/Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate

As Green People sun creams are reef safe. We do not use either of these ingredients in any of our natural sun care.


The Good Shopping guide aims to arm consumers with the insights that can help them to shop ethically and issues accreditations to companies that make every effort to minimise their impact on the environment. Green People has been listed in the guide consecutively for 14 years and, when the guide last reviewed sun lotion, we received positive scores for both product sustainability and company ethos.


Did you know that some areas of natural beauty have banned chemical sun lotions?

Hawaii became the first US state to ban sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate in 2021vii and several marine parks in Mexico, Florida and the Virgin Island also discourage the use of chemical sun lotions.

If you’re travelling to a marine park and are unsure whether your sun cream is safe for the sea, be sure to check with your tour guide or tour operator before you travel.

Are you worried about the future of our oceans? Shop our reef-safe sun lotion now or join the conversation about biodegradable sun cream @GreenPeopleUK




[iv] https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/caution-sunscreen-protecting-you-might-be-damaging-gorgeous-coral-reef

[v] https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html

[vi] http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.com/ethical-sun-protection/

[vii] https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/may/03/hawaii-becomes-first-us-state-to-ban-sunscreens-harmful-to-coral-reefs

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