Last month, Hawaii became the first US state to ban the sale of sunscreens that include the UV-filtering ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate (it goes into effect in 2021)—not because they harm wearers (though the EWG might disagree), but because they’re toxic to coral reefs and sea creatures. Coral reefs have already been damaged tremendously by climate change; scientists now have evidence that these specific sunscreen chemicals—when washed off in the ocean—cause further bleaching. What we can do to lessen our environmental impact, beyond wearing rash guards and hats seaside, is to use reef-safe sunscreens. Newly launched brand Vive Sana doesn’t yet offer a body sunscreen, but its two face options are noteworthy for trying to go further than any natural sunscreen has gone before.
Vive Sana uses non-nano uncoated zinc, which is regarded as one of the safest (and most coral-friendly) options available stateside. Unlike sunscreens that use chemical actives like oxybenzone and octinoxate and are absorbed by the skin, mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide work as physical “blockers” by sitting atop the skin like a shield. The latter is the better bet for those with sensitive skin, and Vive Sana has added botanical ingredients (from licorice root and rosemary to apricot kernel) to aid skin hydration and recovery in the pre- and post-sun phases.
Zinc oxide sunscreens can sometimes leave a chalky or white residue, but Vive Sana’s formulations rub on clear. However, don’t expect the matte, powder-dry finish that your favorite chemical sunscreen offers; the trade-off you make for this cleaner, multi-tasking version is noticeable glow and shine on the face that can feel a little heavy on humid days. Save it for drier conditions, as overall it’s super-hydrating, blends well, and does not lead to breakouts like many sunscreens do.