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Let’s talk about reef-safe skin and hair products

Let’s talk about reef-safe skin and hair products

Set scene: One day, a girl went scuba diving in Palau. During her safety stop at the end of the dive she looked up to the surface and saw a colourful pattern. She thought “Oh, how beautiful!  A rainbow!“

But when she came up from the safety stop she realized it wasn’t a rainbow she saw, but the oily streaks of the sunscreen from snorkelers nearby.

She wondered if this had an impact on ocean life and did some research. And yes, sunscreen in fact does affect ocean life, killing corals and fish and damaging whole reefs.

So the girl set out and was determined to find a solution. She sat down, talked to scientists, did research, developed different formulas, worked on them for hundreds of hours, tested the products and found a solution.

In fact, the solution worked so well she founded a company that sells the coral-and-fish-safe sunscreen worldwide. And not only sunscreen, the girl also developed ocean safe shower gels, shampoos, conditioner, lip balms and body lotions!

The girl’s name: Autumn Blum
The company: Stream2Sea

Now SHE sounds like a member of Girls that Scuba!

I was so fortunate to receive all the products and was able to test the different products during a liveaboard in Thailand. So here’s what I think about each product


The sunscreen is slightly different from what you may know. It is mineral-based and may put you off at first, as it is a little white on the skin.

But: it works! I came totally white from home into the hot Thai sun and during my five days on the boat I had no sunburn.

It is a bit different to put on: You have to take small batches, massage it into your skin and move on with a new batch to the next spot. You can’t just take a big glob and smear it all over.

And bonus: It is waterproof! You really have to wash it off at the end of the day.

And for the whiteness: I forced myself to only bring this sunscreen onto the boat, that way I wouldn’t cheat and grab a chemical one. Yes, it is a bit white on your skin. In fact, the surfer community takes the whiteness with pride.

And in times like these, it’s time to overthink our “beauty standards”.

Sunscreen lip balm

The first time I used it I had to laugh. I was expecting the usual store-bought sunscreen lip balm! No, I looked into the mirror and saw white lips. Yes, it’s a mineral-based sunscreen for your lips. I didn’t use it much as my lips don’t have troubles with the sun, but for those of you who do, this might be for you.

Sunscreen lip balm

Leave-in Hair Conditioner

One of my favorite products. I liked working it into my hair in the morning, putting my hair into a braid and go diving with it.

Coming up from the dive, you can just comb your hair and it’s super easy to de-tangle your hair. It left my hair absolutely soft. And I really liked the light scent. Knowing that it is reef and fish safe makes it an absolute delight to use.

Body Lotion

I loved this one, too. Smells a little coconutty, and leaves a wonderful soft skin. Some lotions are quite thick, not this one. It’s very light, but hydrates perfectly. I actually felt my skin sucking it up after coming up from a dive.

Relief Gel

Developed mainly for insect bites and underwater stings, I used it on the boat one day after a jellyfish sting and it was absolutely fine. I had to reapply a few times when my skin sucked up the gel and the pain came back, but the pain was much easier to handle with the gel.

But I wouldn’t recommend it on sensitive or sunburned skin.  After a week on land I had a slight sunburn and thought I could just lash on the gel – mistake! The ingredients that make it ideal for stings were counterintuitive for my sunburn. I had a strong reaction to it and spent the rest of the day with a tomato face. But: I have a sensitive skin anyway and I’m not taking facials anymore as I have been walking out the beauty shops a few times with an allergic reaction. I’m difficult with skin products.

I talked to Autumn about it and she noted that the formula may be too intense for sensitive skin. So I suggest you just try if it works for your skin. It worked for me with the jellyfish sting, it may not work for everyone on a sunburned skin. Everyone’s different!

Lip Balm

Another favorite of mine. I can’t describe the smell. It’s fresh and cool, like cucumber and I absolutely love it. I used it during the day and it left my lips soft. It is a little larger than a regular lip balm, but that’s fine.

It’s labeled as an after sun lip balm, but I still use it all the time and it might become my go-to lip balm.

Lip Balm

Shampoo and Bodywash

I used it during my whole vacation. Smells and feels and is easy to use just like any other shampoo or bodywash. You can use it as a shower gel and as a shampoo, so it saves space in your suitcase and saves the environment, too! It is a little thin, so make sure you close the lid properly as it’s standing on the head.


I have worked on a liveaboard for a year and know that all the water from showers, toilets and sinks go straight into the ocean. Yes, including the products you wash yourself with or wash off (think sunscreen or make up).

Actually, I have been concerned about this all the time but I didn’t really see a solution to this problem and you can’t really stop customers from doing so. So when I heard there was a company out there who specialized in ocean safe products, I knew I had know more about it.

To be honest, I hadn’t heard about Stream2Sea before some Girls that Scuba mentioned it in the Facebook Group. So when I was offered the chance to review the products I literally jumped at it. Reef safe products? It seemed too good to be true.

I read the whole website from Stream2Sea, Autumn explains exactly which ingredients in sunscreen are harmful for ocean life and gives advice what to look out for. Before I delve into this, have a look into the website and educate yourself!

Autumn also wrote a whole blog post about the topic animal testing. I was grateful to read it as most companies don’t like talking about it. She herself tested the products and had them tested on friends. But she admits she had to test the formula on coral larvae and in water with live fish.

But: How do you test a fish safe product? How do you label a material to be waterproof if you don’t test it in water? The decision wasn’t easy for Autumn, but she explains her reasons and I understand. She is open for comments and suggestions and feedback and reactions, so try the Stream2Sea products, and get back to her whenever you can! Autumn is happy to help and happy to receive feedback, as it’s a chance for her to work more on her products, make them better and help the ocean become healthy again – a great example of a Girl that Scuba!

Where to buy Stream2Sea products?

Get your Stream2Sea products here!

GTS members get 10% off all products on the Stream2sea website by using code GIRLSTHATSCUBA.


Authors bio
Kerstin is a dive instructor from Germany, previously an IT consultant and accountant she recently travelled the world for 3 years! Now back home in Germany working on her copywriting and virtual assistant business, she also hopes to start a scuba-related blog. Feel free to contact Kerstin through her website!