Why one innovative sunscreen company wants their products EWG VERIFIED®

Why would a sunscreen company want to get EWG VERIFIED®?

It’s a question we asked Autumn Blum, founder of Stream2Sea, which makes the only mineral-based sunscreens to be tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish and coral larvae. 

The company has just received the coveted EWG VERIFIED mark for several products that meet our strict standards for efficacy, ingredient safety and transparency.

Stream2Sea is the latest of a small but growing number of environmentally conscious sunscreen makers to become EWG VERIFIED. In May, we announced the first three companies to receive the mark for sunscreens: ATTITUDE, Babo Botanicals and Beautycounter.

Six Stream2Sea products have earned the trusted EWG VERIFIED mark: 

The company has additional products being reviewed for the mark.

Awarding the EWG VERIFIED mark to the six products is our latest action to help consumers following the release of our 2023 Guide to Sunscreens, which profiles more than 1,700 sunscreen products. Only about one in four meets our standards for adequate sun protection and avoids ingredients linked to known health harms. Products marketed for babies and kids do slightly better, on average, with one in three meeting our standards.

Some of Stream2Sea’s items already rate well on EWG’s Skin Deep® database, which assesses the safety of sunscreens and more than 95,000 personal care products in many categories.

EWG spoke with Blum, the CEO of Stream2Sea, about her goal of making sunscreens that are safe for people as well as aquatic life, and to hear a first-hand perspective on why a company might want to go the extra step and get its products EWG VERIFIED.

Q. What is the concept behind Stream2Sea and your sunscreens?

A. I’m a cosmetic chemist and have been formulating natural skin care products for more than 25 years. I founded Stream2Sea in 2015 after a scuba diving trip to Palau, where I saw a rainbow on the surface of the water. I realized it was an oil slick from the sunscreen a group of snorkelers were using. It made me think about how products impact the aquatic environment – and not just sunscreens but shampoos and other body care – and how they might be made with serious aquatic toxins.

I knew how to make products that wouldn’t burn your skin or eyes – but what about protecting the environment? A lot of ingredients in sunscreens and related products have been shown to bioaccumulate and are found in fish tissue and coral. With Stream2Sea, I went back to the drawing board to develop new formulations that would be safe to use and aquatic-friendly.

Q. Your products rate well in Skin Deep. Why did you want to go the extra step and get EWG VERIFIED?

A. We really wanted the third-party validation that EWG VERIFIED allows us to have. It shows that our products are safe for the environment, for people and the planet.

The educated consumer is looking for this independent verification, because they know there’s a lot of marketing fluff out there, and some fly-by-night companies claim their products are safe without any proof. There’s a genuine desire from consumers for aquatic-friendly products.

Q. What is the process like for getting a personal care product EWG VERIFIED?

A. We had to submit the entire ingredient list for our sunscreens, then we had to provide safety data sheets, third party SPF and critical wavelength test results, and certificates of analysis. We also use this information to show that our products are safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish and coral larvae. 

Then EWG requested additional information, requiring validation that the botanicals are sustainable and non-contaminated. Our ingredient wakame seaweed actually held us up, because it can sometimes be contaminated. We had to prove through independent tests that ours doesn’t have contaminants in it. The process allowed us to present our data to EWG for review and to hear “Yes, you are using safe ingredients.”

Q. Would you encourage other personal care product makers to get EWG VERIFIED?

A. Yes. All sunscreens are not created equal, and getting EWG VERIFIED was an opportunity to have someone else review the science and quality ingredients behind our products, to know they’re not contaminated with heavy metals, and to confirm that we are using ingredients that are safe.

We take the safety of the environment and human health very seriously, and we know consumers are looking for this mark, and we hope other brands learn from our journey.

There’s so much “greenwashing” today, and EWG VERIFIED is a wonderful resource for a consumer to look at a brand and see what its ingredients actually are.

You shouldn’t have to be a cosmetic chemist to know if your sunscreen is safe for the planet or the environment or a person.

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