This Stream2Sea sunscreen review comes after several years of testing their products on our many snorkeling trips, to some of the hottest tropical destinations in the world. We are both fair skinned and we use it both in and out of the water, in conjunction with sun protective clothing.
We have tested it side-by-side against many other sunscreens that are considered reef safe. And it has consistently come out as the best option for us. Read more about the other sunscreens we have tested here.
We believe in the product so much that we have become friends with the owner, and we do receive a commission if you purchase from the links on this site, at no extra expense to you. But rest assured, we would never recommend a product we did not use ourselves. In fact, a previous favorite sunscreen of ours changed their ingredients, we started getting burned, and we instantly stopped recommending it.
We have also tested their tinted SPF20 Sport and tinted SPF30 Sport. Their tinted sunscreens use the exact same formula as the non-tinted products, but they add an iron based coloring. They do an excellent job of concealing that you are wearing sunscreen. You pretty much can't tell you are wearing it. But, the tint does come off on light colored clothing, and it could stain some clothing, although so far we have found it comes out with soap and a little scrubbing. Besides that, the product performs the same.
We continue to do new sunscreen tests each year and report about our findings in our monthly newsletter.
Stream2Sea is graciously offering our site visitors 10% off your first order by using the coupon code TropicalSnorkeling10 on Stream2Sea's website at the links above.
If you have ever gone snorkeling or swimming in a hot place you know that the water magnifies the sun and you can get completely torched. But when you apply this product correctly, and reapply it as needed during the day, it does an excellent job of preventing burns. In fact we use the SPF 20, instead of the SPF 30, because it does such a good job. We may get a little bit of a suntan using the SPF 20, but no burns.
Every version of their sunscreen stays on your body in the water, or when you are sweating from exercise. Obviously for us as snorkelers this is very important. You do need to apply it correctly and let it dry before entering the water. It does come off in the shower with a soapy washcloth.
It is worth noting that we also used to test and use the major sunscreen brands like Coppertone, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, etc. We got burned, a lot. We have yet to find a major brand sunscreen that is as water-resistant as Stream2Sea. And we no longer test those products because they are not reef safe.
Probably the most important thing we would like you to realize after reading this Stream2Sea sunscreen review is that it has been scientifically proven that some of the chemicals used by most of the big sunscreen brands kill corals and fish. It is not hard to believe. We have seen the oily sheen of sunscreen on the water at popular beaches, and it seems unlikely that all the dead coral at busy beaches is entirely due to physical damage.
Reef safe sunscreen is also important if you are not snorkeling, but are around other bodies of water. What you wash off yourself often ends up in streams, rivers, and then oceans.
And personally, the chemical based sunscreens like Coppertone also make us feel ill when we use them, which is not the case with Stream2Sea.
The owner of Stream2Sea is a diver, and an organic chemist, and she created this product line due to concerns about the harmful products she was seeing divers use. Not only does Stream2Sea not use the active ingredient chemicals known to kill corals and fish, like oxybenzone, but they are also the only company we are aware of that has done testing on corals and fish to try and make sure their products are as harmless to sea life as they can make it. There are many ingredients in sunscreens besides oxybenzone that can be toxic to marine life.
While we do not support animal testing of cosmetic products for people, we support this testing because it is focused on saving sea life. And it is a good thing they did the testing, because it showed that industry suggested "safe" ingredients killed the fish and coral in the tests (which made the owner cry). But her current formulation did not kill fish and coral. She openly admits that reefs are very complex ecosystems, and it's nearly impossible to be sure that no reef life may be harmed. But she is doing her best.
If a company is against animal testing, but then sells a product marked as reef safe, that is untested and could actually be killing fish and corals, that just does not make any sense to us. So we support Stream2Sea in this.
You can read more about Stream2Sea's testing process here.
Stream2Sea is a physical sunblock that uses titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Because of that it is applied differently than a chemical sunblock. You don't need to use very much and just a dab covers a big area. That is something to consider if the price seems a little higher for a bottle than some of the more commercial brands.
It is very easy to apply, with a nice thin consistency. It is not oily in application or on the skin after it is dry. The SPF 20 goes on fairly white, but rubbing it in helps it dry to slightly white. The SPF 30 is similar but does not go on quite as easily and is slightly whiter on the skin. The tinted SPF 20 & 30 have a very natural skin look, and you can hardly tell you are wearing sunscreen. Although, as noted above, the tint shows on light colored clothing and could stain it.
We actually like a sunscreen that shows up slightly white on our skin. It really helps us know if it has been applied thoroughly, and it shows where it has been rubbed off. How many times have you seen someone with blotchy burn marks on a beach because of sunscreen not put on thoroughly?