Safe Sunscreen 2017-05-18T22:04:01+00:00

Fear of Frying

Ohhh the sunscreen horror stories …

We @ Wild Side became sunscreen savvy many ocean tides ago. Improper sun exposure cannot only seriously hamper your vacation, improper sunscreens themselves can risk the heath of you,your loved ones, and the environment where it is used.

Our first clue came after witnessing people applying sunscreen in the boat’s shady cabin. And then hours later, the cushions they had sat upon were bubbling from chemicals in their sunscreen!

There is frightening evidence that these chemical sunscreens can in fact be harmful to us, and have even been argued to interfere with normal sexual development as well as other potential health problems, including increasing our susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers. Similar risks may be passed on to marine mammals when the chemicals enter the water column.

The major risk factor for all types of skin cancer is over-exposure to the sun, which damages the skin at a cellular level and can build-up year after year, until the skin becomes increasingly susceptible to malignancy While sunscreens are not the answer in and of themselves, the right sunscreen can greatly help. Physical (as compared to chemical) sunscreens work by reflecting and/or scattering UV rays and radiation. Sunscreens using zinc oxide appear to be the safest route

Fish -safe sunscreen? It’s catching the durn fish to put the sun block on them that is so hard!


Many name brand sunscreens contain harmful oils and chemicals that damage coral reefs and marine plants and animals.  Every year between 8 million and 12 million pounds of sunscreen washes off of swimmers and goes into our water, potentially smothering our coral reefs, clouding up the water, or is ingested by our local fish and marine life.

Most marine animals are mass spawners. Their eggs are positively buoyant and float to the surface. When the eggs hit a layer of sunscreen they’re pretty much toast. Your choices can help to conserve this fragile ecosystem for years to come.

Below are some suggestions for eco-safe sunscreens.

We use Mexitan onboard and like the coverage. It’s very waterproof and if you rub it in well, it’s also cosmetically pleasing. We havent tried the others listed below…

We also let the clothes do a lot of the work. Stay covered! Big hats (with chin straps), sunglasses, long sleeves, rash guards, etc.

Put your sunscreen on before leaving home -experts say sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes to a half an hour before exposure.

It’s made by Panama Jack’s version is called Guide & Outfitter Eco-Safe Sunblock SPF 30.

Smartshield claims to be “eco-friendly & marine safe” and can be used in protected water habitats. Reviews say it rubs in quickly ,is safe for those with highly sensitive skin, and it works well.They sell a 2oz bottled formula for faces, and larger bottles of regular lotions.

Some we are not so thrilled with:

Safe Sea: said to not only be eco-friendlt/biodegradable, but to also protect you from jellyfish stings and sea lice. Many reviews said it did not protect from jellyfish stings. We had a crew member who said it did nothing for her against any type of sea lice critters.

Badger: I was so happy when this skin and habitat safe, top-rated product arrived in the mail. The “hippie” smell (I can say that as an “old hippie”) was passable . The olive oil base was greasy. I had to drive the boat and go up and down the flybridge ladder with slick hands- and that was OK too, But, Holy Sea Cow did I burn!!. Gave it away to a passenger from a climate with a less intense sun (and didn’t mind the hippie smell and greasiness).