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Monday, December 4, 2023

From sun to sea: Reef-safe sunscreen matters

Between the battle of sunsoaked adventures and preserving marine life, reef-safe sunscreen bags first prize anytime of the day. Playing an important part in everyone’s eco-conscious journey, reef friendly sunscreens were surprisingly underrated, until now! The growing awareness amongst people has led to a rise in questions over the sunscreens consumed on a daily-basis. 

It is fairly common to find sunscreens including Oxybenzone, Octinoxate & Octocrylene, all of which have proven to affect marine sanctuaries overtime. When these chemicals are washed off excessively or enter wastewater treatment plants and flow in bodies of water, they result in coral bleaching, deformities, DNA damage, and ultimately, the death of coral. These chemicals are known to disrupt the symbiotic relationship between the coral and algae. The coral larvae enclose themselves within their own skeletons, sink to the seafloor, and eventually perish.

But it doesn’t mean that one should stop wearing sunscreen completely. 

With the continuous emergence of skincare brands, finding the right SPF for your skin type has become both easier and complicated at the same time. With a little research and patience, your best SPF fit might just be around the corner! For starters, the brands listed below will help you compare and pick the alternative to your existing sunscreen.


reef safe sunscreen
reef safe sunscreen

And not to forget, there are alternatives one can strap on for added protection. Hats, wraps, sun shirts and vests, beach umbrellas or other shaded areas help avoid the sun’s harmful rays too. 

Both the SPF types, physical (mineral) and chemical have pros and cons, but mineral sunscreen is found to be the most suitable for the coral’s safety and daily wear. It is FDA-approved, reflects UVA/UVB rays, activates instantly and the wash-off does not mix negatively with the ocean life. On the other hand, the chemicals absorb into the skin quickly with no white cast, it stays on longer and the application is quick and easy. Now, considering that some people might be sensitive to mineral sunscreens, it is okay to go with what works for your skin although try to avoid ingredients such as: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, PABA, Parabens, Triclosan, nanoparticles such as zinc or titanium and any form of microplastic, like exfoliating beads, according to www.savethereef.org

Keeping these components in mind, irrespective of the variation you choose, you’re good to go. It’s also best to consult a board-certified dermatologist and do your own evidence-based research if you are unsure of what to do. Research aids in knowledge whereas a derm can provide greater clarity of what your skin needs.

Hawaii took a great decision in this regard when the state prohibited the use of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Several other locations, including Mexico, Bonaire, Key West, Aruba, and Palau, followed suit.Then, in 2022, two counties in Hawaii took further measures by banning all chemical sunscreen ingredients, making mineral sunscreens the only available option for both tourists and residents. 

“A drop in the ocean makes the mighty sea” 

It is important to remember where your skincare goes after use, starting from the outer packaging to the washed-off remains, and for years, marine life has been bearing our burden. Turtles, fishes, turquoises, coral reefs, and the rest deserve better than what humankind has given them. Just one replacement in your purse may lead to a bigger better cause towards the future. That’s one bottle of happiness to the sea. Take your time, pick the right screen for your body and you are already one step closer to green living.

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