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Post in Skincare Aware

False advertising: Sephora's REEF SAFE label on products eg Supergoop sunscreen ignore the science re: the sunscreen chemical OCTOCRYLENE

Sephora's "REEF SAFE" icon displayed prominently on Supergoop sunscreen products (and I'm sure others) is false advertising, greenwashing, and ignorant of the science about OCTOCRYLENE, one of the heavily-cited reef-damaging sunscreen chemicals to avoid (and it's not new news, Sephora and Supergoop ... see a few scientific study collections shown below).

 

Interestingly, Sephora shoppers looking for clean products are asking whether Supergoop's products are reef safe, and those questions go unanswered on the Supergoop product pages I just looked at while shopping for new sunscreens. Why have those questions been ignored by Sephora and the brand? Because they are NOT reef safe and both organizations must know it. 

 

Please join me in urging Sephora to immediately remove the reef safe designation from products containing the chemical octocrylene AND to update their criteria for CLEAN PRODUCTS to ensure that they are consistent with the chemical science since they launched the program years ago.

 

A FEW LINKS TO REPUTABLE ORGANIZATIONS CITING OCTOCRYLENE as a top sunscreen chemical to avoid because it damages coral reefs, ocean life, and ocean ecoysystems the world depends on: 

 

  1. Simple infographic from the US National Ocean Service, a division of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in the US Department of Commerce:  Octocrylene is the 3rd sunscreen chemical listed among those that can harm marine life (green algae, CORALS, fish 🐟, dolphins 🐬, mussels and sea urchins as well as their offspring). The page also includes links to other studies.
  2. "Do the Chemicals in Your Sunscreen Damage Fragile Coral Reefs?" asks the Environmental Working Group in this 2016 summary of 10 years of data collection and studies. After citing lots of data and linking to other studies, the article ends with "Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, octocrylene, 4MBC, butylparaben and octinoxate. Though some sunscreens say they're "reef safe," those claims are unregulated and can be deceptive." 
  3. VOGUE got in on the story in 2018, also citing octocrylene in the 3rd position in "Is Your Sunscreen Bad for the Planet? Here’s How to Choose an Ocean-Safe Formula." 
  4. Women's Health, "6 Scary Sunscreen Ingredients," 2012):  "Octocrylene: When this chemical is exposed to UV light, it absorbs the rays and produces oxygen radicals that can damage cells and cause mutations. It is readily absorbed by your skin and may accumulate within your body in measurable amounts. Plus, it can be toxic to the environment." 

SUPERGOOP PRODUCTS TO AVOID from their "bestseller" list - I only went through the first page of entries:

 

GOOD NEWS: SOME OF THEIR PRODUCTS DO NOT CONTAIN THE CHEMICAL OCTOCRYLENE, including ...

**PS**

 

THANK YOU @marylp for your reef-safe question (9 days ago) on the Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50 page. Unfortunately, the response from @remxx (a rookie on Sephora, so certainly not an employee, Supergoop! rep, or someone monitoring the marketing of these products. The response is dangerously incorrect in stating that "the only two that are widely considered NOT reef-safe are oxybenzone and octinoxate." While science is a continuous process of continually honing and disproving a hypothesis again and again as new technologies or variables are available, your statement that those two chemicals are WIDELY CONSIDERED NOT REEF SAFE may have been true 20 years ago, but not today, nor in the 2010s when so many of the studies cited above were conducted.

 

In addition, this question has been asked on numerous products claiming they are reef-safe and the science says otherwise. In my industry, that's called GREENWASHING and it's EVERYWHERE. I thank all of the shoppers who care to ask the question and scald Sephora for allowing them to go unanswered and ignored. Sephora or Supergoop, if you'd like to cite a number of peer-reviewed studies in important scientific journals to justify using this labeling, by all means, please do so.

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