... Speaking of Sun...
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... Speaking of Sunscreen...

Posts: 15
Active Member
Topic starter

Hi Again, Lovely and Interesting Peoples of the VI(™),

When diving/snorkeling/swimming in the reef waters, what is the most/best recommended sunscreen product(s) (those that are 'chemically friendly to the local marine environment') that you can suggest/know about? (I know that coconut oil provides a mild spf (not as much blocking of UV, BUT it has an anti-oxidant which is healthy for skin... - Is it considered non-harmful for the marine life?)- Otherwise, can you recommend/do you know which commercial product(s) the "extremely environmentally aware" peoples are using?

Knowing how much time I'll be spending floating around in the water, I'd like to be as "chemically correct" as possible. 😉

Many thanks, as always.


Posted : June 30, 2013 3:16 am
Posts: 203
Estimable Member

I am also curious on this as well, but have yet to do much research. I have two small children so I want something that will protect them very well, but keep the reefs safe. My wife bought something that said beach safe on the bottle, but that does not mean very much.

Posted : June 30, 2013 5:03 am
Posts: 81
Trusted Member

Speaking as a charter captain, dive instructor and nature lover who's always trying to do my part to protect the marine environment (an non-marine really) I'll tell you what works best for me...

That's a pair of good, long'ish, shorts combined with a quality rash guard: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rash+guard.

For areas that the shorts and rash guard don't cover I've never found any substitute for regular old sunscreen (SPF 40 or higher) in this powerful caribbean sun.

I prefer mineral based sunscreens for best effectiveness and their supposedly reduced toxicity to the environment and the person wearing it. Here's a good source for sunscreen stuff, this is sorted by mineral based types but you can look up most other types as well: http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/about-the-sunscreens/?mineral=1

Have fun out there. 😎

Posted : June 30, 2013 5:37 am
Posts: 3919
Famed Member

Many children who are permanent residents wear long sleeve rash guards and hats when on the beach. Also, you almost never see a resident sitting on the beach in the sun - always look for shady spots.

Posted : June 30, 2013 9:33 am
Posts: 8867
Illustrious Member


this is a link i saved years ago. i hope it still works.

i lather on the sunscreen, sit in the shade, wear a hat and good sunglasses and reapply if necessary. and i wear a tshirt too

Posted : June 30, 2013 10:17 am
Posts: 887
Prominent Member

Rash guards are the best protection against the sun and accidental contact with the reef as well. I always wear an long sleeve SPF shirt at the beach and even in the water while floating.

Posted : June 30, 2013 11:44 am
Posts: 1495
Noble Member

Many children who are permanent residents wear long sleeve rash guards and hats when on the beach. Also, you almost never see a resident sitting on the beach in the sun - always look for shady spots.

Yeah my best friend from the states came down to see me in STT. I warned him repeatedly that he needs sunscreen and should sit in the shade under a palm for a good tan.

He didn't listen to me and fell asleep at Limetree. The next day his face practically pealed off and he was badly sick for the remainder of his stay.

Posted : June 30, 2013 1:15 pm
Posts: 2294
Noble Member

that happens a lot. I always have cruisers on tours that are too burnt on the tops of their feet to wear fins.

I use reef safe. It is a small bottle with a clownfish on it, I think it's 45spf. I too use a rash guard when I'm on tours, especially days I do several beaches. Don't forget reef safe defogger.

I agree with the rest on actually laying out. I do what I can to stay out of the sun, granted I'm at the beach most days, usually in skins thou. Don't forget the backs of your knees when you go snorkeling and under your chin for boat trips 😉

Posted : June 30, 2013 1:29 pm
Posts: 2138
Noble Member

There's a poster for Tan Tan Tours on the boardwalk in Christiansted. It's a high shot of people in the Annaly Bay tide pools. Most of the people had sunburnt shoulders.

Posted : June 30, 2013 2:59 pm
Posts: 483
Reputable Member

Centipedes shop over by the boardwalk sells a reef safe sunblock. It needs to be re applied after a couple of hours but works well. of course its a bit pricier, I have to agree with the rash guards shorts, hats and visors. My kids always wear high neck rash guards and use the sunblock on their faces. When on the beach, we are in the shade.
Don't forget eye protection. I know too many people with eye damage caused by the sun requiring surgery or causeing permanent damage.

Posted : June 30, 2013 3:43 pm
Posts: 8867
Illustrious Member

when i worked downtown, there were a couple of girls that walked in as red as could be. i said " I have two words for you, Sun Screen" we all laughed, but they knew i was serious. the sun is different down here than in most of the states.

when my hubby lived in the keys, a friend of ours went to visit. she put sunscreen on most of her body including ear lobes etc, she forgot one part. the tops of her feet. they burned and her feet were so swollen she couldnt wear shoes for a few days.
tough lesson to learn.

Posted : June 30, 2013 3:46 pm
Posts: 1018
Noble Member

Note: First application of sunscreen should be applied liberally "before" you put on your bathing suit, etc. so you don't miss any spots. Then reapply as necessary during the day.

Posted : June 30, 2013 4:19 pm
Posts: 234
Estimable Member

Many children who are permanent residents wear long sleeve rash guards and hats when on the beach. Also, you almost never see a resident sitting on the beach in the sun - always look for shady spots.

You have it! Wear a hat and long sleve shirt, and limit you time in the direct sun. Some vitimin D from the sun is great, but you don't really need that much. Putting all kinds of chemicals on your skin (sunscreen) is just asking for cancer! Play it cool in the shade.

Posted : July 1, 2013 5:04 am
Posts: 41
Eminent Member

Good Day!
The voice of experience (mine) will tell you that even on a "cloudy" day, you can still get burned up. The UV rays come thru the clouds, and the reflection off the water can get you too. Even in the "shade", wear sunscreen! I had sun poisoning and I'm here to tell you, it's no vacation!8-)

Posted : July 1, 2013 2:12 pm
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member

Everything can get sun-burnt, including your ears.
I forgot my hat with visor once during a sailboat race and my part on top of my head got sunburned.
I remembered to coat the tops of my ears and everywhere else but my part peeled. Not fun.

Here's a link below for info on reef friendly sunscreen.



If you are not used to being out in the sun, then use a product of more than 30 SPF and apply throughout the day.
Long sleeved tops help when in the water as protection from both sun and stinging corals, if you brush up against them.

It does not take much exposure to get a severe sunburn especially during peak daytime hours, even if overcast.
If you do get a bad burn, look for aloe vera gel products.
Keep in refrigerator and apply liberally after your shower.
Amazing relief.

Posted : July 1, 2013 2:25 pm
Posts: 203
Estimable Member

This thread was extremely useful. Ordering a lot of rash guard stuff now.

Posted : July 1, 2013 5:01 pm
Posts: 15
Active Member
Topic starter

Thanks (as always) to all, for all of the helpful input on this subject.

Myself and my family have the process pretty well under control. - We're the ones you see on beach(es) in our burkas. 😉

But when floating around in the (fragile) reefs, and/or trying to inform others (visiting family, guests, strays, etc.) about the best 'chemically correct' solutions, it is nice to have collected such good and helpful input from other "tropically-seasoned sun veterans'.

Stay safe everyone, and if you make a mistake, make sure that your aloe plant is nearby, and in healthy condition. 🙂


Posted : July 1, 2013 7:48 pm
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member

While aloe directly from your plants are great for healing, they can stain clothing, towels, bed linen, etc. if applied directly from plant to skin annd whatever skin comes in contact with which is why I suggested the aloe "gel."

Products with/like zinc oxcide work well.
Products with paraban (sp?) don't, plus they stain anything they come in contact with including beach chairs, cushions.

Posted : July 1, 2013 8:18 pm
Posts: 1018
Noble Member

Sun also reflects off the sand and porch decks, so even though you are in the shade, still use protective measures.
Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun.
They also recommend "broad spectrum" sunscreen to block out both UVA and UVB rays.
See webpage below for more information:


America Academy of Dermatology

Another resource:


Posted : July 1, 2013 8:50 pm
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