Raw Elements Sunscreen initial review

I started this post, earlier this year.  You can refer back to it here.

Is you sunscreen reef safe?

Last year Rich and I stopped wearing sunscreen when diving all together.    Keeping safe from the sun is important and at the same time, you want to do everything to prevent doing harm to the reefs that are so important for the health of the ocean.  Hubby Rich dons his 1/2″mil for sunscreen while I skin dive. Being of Irish descent, it can get pretty scary how red he can get at the beginning of the year. To give you a picture, we have a joke about how after 17 years of living here in Florida, each year he adds an inch of tan on his arms where the freckles join together. He will inevitable fry the back of his neck or feet of we spend a bit of time on shore before heading to get fills. There is no point in putting on sunscreen for 30 minutes and then having your mask fog up or worse sunscreen run into your eyes when it mixes with the salt water as you submerge. You get the picture. So this year, I am going to try out some of the reef safe, biodegradable sunscreens I have heard. Today, I am going to list a few and give the said pros and cons. The only two I have heard of are Badger and Cactus Juice.  I have never tried a “Reef Safe”  sunscreen so this will be unbiased.  Then I am going to order some and start reviewing it by adding to this post.
Do you know what wearing sunscreen while diving or snorkeling can do to your reefs?

The first sunscreen Rich and I tested was Raw Elements Eco Formula 30+ and the Eco stick.  Before I told you I would answer and test these questions:

Does it pass as a good sunscreen?  Is is eye sting free?  What does it smell like?  Is it greasy? How much does it cost?  Is it easy to find?
Now I have some new questions like: What will it do to my wetsuit? Is there research to back up claims? Is it just a fancy advertising campaign full of smoke and mirrors?

In my opinion performance wise, it is a good performing sunscreen.  I did not burn at all when I used this.  I tested it on a dive day and also on a beach day.  When you apply, use a little at a time. It is very thick, I think because of the Zinc.  It does take a moment to soak in so apply ahead of time.  Richard actually stuck some on his finger, three different times and poked himself in the eye.  No stinging or burning. The sunscreen has a slightly nutty smell to it. 

I have now used this a 1/2 dozen times.  I do not like the white coating it leaves.  There is no getting around it.  I also do not like the fact that I get no anwer to the now 3 emails I have sent.  This makes me speculative and concerned about the zinc and what it is doing for the reef.

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 23%
Natural Ingredients: Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Green Tea, Organic Black Tea, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, All Natural Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, All Natural Rosemary Oil Extract, All Natural Vitamin E ***All Ingredients Marked Organic Are USDA Certified Organic.

They state you could reapply under water.  Not sure why you would want to as a diver but I get it, if you are a surfer and are gonna board out. I will test this next time.

I did not find it greasy at all but it is thick.  Also on my wetsuit after, it left a little residue inside on the neoprene.  I would like to check out if it would have any adverse effects on the neoprene over long term use.  I am thinking no as it is all natural and organic.

It is $18.99 a bottle, pricier than other mass marketed sunscreens but in my opinion that is relevant to what you are trying to achieve.  I pay more for organic eggs and fruit not to eat the chemicals.  Hypoallergenic sunscreens cost $13-63.

I have some concerns about zinc and it’s affect on the reef.  I am researching that more and will keep you updated.  I was made aware of some studies and have made a call to a company that exposed me to this information.  I have also been made aware that some of the exposure “bad chemicals” listed in my previous article are getting may not be scientifically backed by research.  I never thought this would open up the can of worms it has but I am persevering for the good of our reefs.  This company does not use Nanoparticles which is supposed to be good. For now, I am not going to make my personal stance on whether this is reef safe or not.  I will however list all the below info directly from the companies website for you to help you make your own decision.

  • #1 Rating for Safety and Efficacy from The Environmental Working Group
  • 100% All Natural and Certified Organic Inactive Ingredients
  • Never Contains Harsh or Synthetic Chemicals – However it does have Zinc in it…I would like to know the effects zinc had on the reef. Can it be broken down? If so how and what happens.
  • Hypoallergenic, Safe For All Ages and Sensitive Skin
  • Non Nano Zinc Oxide as the Only Active Ingredient I am looking into the whole NANO thing more. other companies use micronized, which are then homogenize before putting into their formulas.
  • Eco Safe, Reef Safe, Biodegradable and never Tests on Animals
  • True Balanced Broad Spectrum Protection – Both UVA/UVB Rays
  • Very Water and Sweat Resistant beyond 80 Minutes
  • Never Runs, Never Stings Eyes or Clogs Pores
  • Tubes Float and Can Be Applied to Wet Skin
  • Delivers High Levels of Certified Organic Moisturizers and Antioxidants to the Skin
  • 100% All Natural and Certified Organic Inactive Ingredients
    In both the Eco Formula 30+ and Eco Stick 30+ Raw Elements USA uses over 70% certified organic ingredients and is 100% all natural utilizing natures answers toward protection. We choose each individual Certified Organic ingredient for their specific properties. They all contribute unparalleled moisturizing properties along with antioxidants while protecting the skin from tough environmental exposure. Certified Organic Ingredients must be free from any synthetics, pesticides or chemicals during the growing and cultivating process.
  • Never Contains Harsh or Synthetic Chemicals
    Raw Elements Sunscreen Products are All Natural and NEVER contain: Chemical UV Absorbers, Parabens, Nanotechnology, Hormone Disrupters, Synthetic Preservers, Fragrances, Artificial Colors, Titanium Dioxide, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, PABA, Padimate O, Retinal Palmitate or Alcohol. We make a conscious decision to utilize only natural ingredients with unquestionable safety profiles.
  • Non Nano Zinc Oxide as the Only Active Ingredient
    Raw Elements Sunscreen uses only Earth’s Mineral, Non Nano Zinc Oxide as the Active Ingredient. A Nano Particle is considered to have a particle size of less than 100 nanometers. The overwhelming international scientific data clearly indicates that Zinc Oxide nano particles sit on top of the skin surface and do not penetrate into living skin tissue. That said, we choose to utilize Zinc Oxide with a particle size of over 100nm. Furthermore, there is enough evidence which questions the safety profiles of other such Chemical UV Absorbers that we do not find their use acceptable. Our proprietary Zinc Oxide is photo-stable, where many Chemical UV Absorbers are not and can only absorb a certain amount of radiation before breaking down.
  • Eco Safe, Reef Safe, Biodegradable and never Tests on Animals
    Raw Elements USA Sunscreen products only contain Organic and Natural ingredients and are Eco Safe, Reef Safe and Biodegradable. If Raw Elements ever comes off the body, the all natural ingredients are simply degraded and released back into the environment of which it came. We believe in our products so much, the only testing we have done has been on ourselves and never tested on animals! This concerns me a bit, if the only testing has been done on themselves, how have they tested if it is truly biodegradable? I have contacted them to find out what research, if any they have to back up claims
  • Tubes Float and Can Be Applied to Wet Skin  Raw Elements Sunscreen tubes float in the water if ever dropped and ECO STICK 30+ can even be applied while submerged under water or to wet skin. These qualities will allow the outdoor enthusiast to keep our sunscreen with them no matter what the environmental conditions call for.
  • Delivers High Levels of Certified Organic Moisturizers and Antioxidants to the Skin
    While our zinc oxide provides balanced broad spectrum protection from UVA & UVB rays, the rest of the raw ingredients battle environmental exposure. Each organic and natural ingredient is specifically selected to provide hydration, antioxidants, high levels of moisture, vitamins and minerals. These qualities battle the damage of the skin on the cellular level from free radicals generated by the sun and other carcinogens, long after environmental exposure.

So for now, I am sitting on the fence until I uncover some more facts. I want to make sure I am not being scammed by any clever marketing strategies. Check back later or follow me so you get all the updates. I am in touch with the president of Raw Elements and we have emails floating back and forth.
here is a copy of the last email sent to him at 1:04 today

quick reply!
Do you have any scientific research that your company has done to support the claims you have made about

Eco Safe, Reef Safe, Biodegradable and never Tests on Animals

I had a reader contact me and give me some conflicting reports about the affects of zinc on the reef and that zinc is not biodegradable. They have stated that the MSDS sheet states it can be a eye irritant and also be highly toxic to fish and or aquatic organisms. Howveevr we did 3 seperate tests where my husband actually put some on his finger and put it on his eyeball and no redness or irritant effect occurred.
Under the Ecological section, the MSDS sheet states that, “Zinc Oxide material is highly toxic to aquatic organisms on an acute basis (LD50/EC50<0.1mg/L in the most sensitive species). Upon reading further, we discover that Zinc Oxide is not applicable for biodegradation, which means that this chemical does not biodegrade. Some manufacturers also list this product as being an “Ocean Pollutant”

So, I do not know what to believe and would like to explore this option and understand it better before I completely back a product.
can you help me with that?

Also, I was wondering if you had heard of any affects of long term use on wetsuits (neoprene). I noticed when I was done with the trip I tested this on, I had a white residue in my suit lining which I am sure was from the zinc.
Thanks for all your help!

I will let you know what happens.

About daniellesdives

diving enthusiast
This entry was posted in Florida Diving, Reviews, Technical tips, info, or other useful thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Raw Elements Sunscreen initial review

  1. Pingback: Is your sunscreen Reef Safe? | Danielle's Dives Blog

  2. Scott Carney says:

    Do you ever get an answer from this company? I still am not sure which product to buy? You are correct that this should not be that hard.

    Great job and thanks for your due diligence.


    • I am still delving into this jungle. It has opened a huge can of wormss. Zinc does not break down according to MSDS info and that means it stays in water. I have inquired with some scientists but no answers yet. I will followup this week.

  3. Bud Gillan says:

    Zinc is a naturally occurring element and inorganic, as are all minerals. As an element on the Periodic Table Zn does not break down (degrade) in something smaller. Zinc and its compounds are universally essential for every cell to live, found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Zinc is the mineral that is key to human and vertebrate immune systems, triggers our ability to think (think zinc), and sold as a nutritional supplement in the form of zinc gluconate. Zinc oxide in zinc ointment has been used for safely for years on baby diaper rash, burn victims, and formulations for starvation recovery. As a sunscreen zinc ointment or zinc oxide ointment has been used safely for years by beachgoers and those in the sun. It is our oldest and broadest spectrum (UVA1, UVA2, and UVB) sunscreen. New non-nano (over 100 nm) or micronized zinc oxide to is large for cellular absorption. Zinc is a naturally occurring element required by corals and their zooxanthellae symbionant algae, as well as other organisms on the reef.
    Bud Gillan, Cnidarian and Cubozoan Researcher

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