The Magic Gift Of Coral Reefs, Use A Safe Sunscreen

Maldives - Tropical fish
Save Our Reefs

Scientists are witnessing worldwide coral bleaching events, without taking the right precautions, we are damaging the very reefs we dream about. El Nino’s warmer weather now is frequently occurring, coral reefs of the world are under severe duress and coral bleaching is happening rapidly. 50% of coral reefs have been lost in the past 20 years and more than 90% are expected to die by 2050. Hawaii passed legistlation to ban the use of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or similar harmful agents at its beaches. Hawaii experienced its first major coral bleaching case in 2014, and has seen coral reef die-off every year since then. Severe bleaching cases have also been observed in the Great Barrier Reef, Easter islands, Fiji, Tonga and several Caribbean nations — all of which have economies highly dependent on tourism.

The Affect of Sunscreen On Coral Reefs
Clown fish swimming in the corals.
Clown fish swimming in the corals.

Chemicals in sunscreens like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and benzophenone become a part of our environment. Coral reefs are an integral component of the environment and are a valuable economic and environmental resource. Changing climate, pollution, global warming, diseases, and unsustainable fishing practices are known threats for coral reefs.

Even a small amount of this chemical can consume nutrients of coral reefs. It is known to be causing damage to its DNA and disrupts coral endocrine system. These adverse effects led to the banning of chemical sunscreens in the Pacific nation of Palau and Hawaii from 2020 and 2021 respectively. Authorities of the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Aruba, and Virgin islands in America are also considering banning sunscreen that has oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene from 2020.

Choose mineral sunscreens instead of chemical ones. Titanium and zinc oxides do not harm coral reefs. The government can encourage developers and grant financial incentives for eco-friendly sunscreen manufacturing. You can use fewer products by avoiding swimming during intense mid-day sun, wearing a long-sleeved shirt.

Beach - Sea
Reef Safe Sunscreen Suggestions

Before heading to the beach, here are the top recommended reef safe face sunscreens. Reef safe zinc sunscreen always contains a physical UV blockers rather than chemical SPF. These formulas don’t contain avobenzone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, octisalate, or homosalate. It’s important to pay attention to the active ingredients in your sunscreen because over 6,000 tons of sunscreen gets washed into the ocean every year. All products are paraben-free, sulfate-free and phthalate-free.

Physical sunscreens use physical UV filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to “physically” block the sun. This is usually a slightly-white tint in the lotion that comes from zinc oxide. Most people notice a subtle white hue when making the switch from physical to chemical sunscreens. Zinc oxide can be challenging to formulate into a wearable sunscreen for darker skin tones, so tinted formulas is a great alternative, with pigment to offset the white film in regular zinc oxide mineral sunscreen.

Coral reefs will otherwise go extinct if travel consumers don’t make the switch from chemical to physical sunscreen, which is why places like Hawai’i have banned chemical sunscreen.

Close-up view of a Clown triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum), soft focus
Close-up view of a Clown triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum), soft focus.

Reef Safe Sunscreen Products Available On Amazon
Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ (3 ounce)
  • This reef safe sunscreen, with the active ingredient zinc oxide 20%, is the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements and be top-rated by EWG (Environmental Working Group) since creation in 2010 with a “1” rating. It also contains vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (tocopherols) to help fight against aging and hyperpigmentation caused by free radical damage from the sun. Bonus: it is cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free.

MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème SPF 50 Sunscreen | Oil-Free, Water-Resistant Lightweight Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF, Absorbs Instantly, Invisible Matte Finish MDSolarSciences Crème Mineral Beauty Balm SPF 50 | Oil-Free Tinted Matte BB Crème Perfects Skin & Provides Broad Spectrum UV Protection | 1.23 Oz
  • Matte finish with active ingredients 2% titanium dioxide and 17% zinc oxide, this reef safe sunscreen is lightweight (perfect for under makeup) and helps reduce the risk of photo aging. It follows the strictest safety standards for ingredients set by EWG (Environmental Working Group), making it non-irritating for most sensitive skin types (i.e. rosacea and acne prone), and safe to use on kids 6 months and older. Bonus: it is cruelty-free, gluten-free, EWG Top-Rated, and EcoCert® Certified.

All Good Tinted Mineral Sport Sunscreen Lotion – Zinc Oxide – Coral Reef Safe – Water Resistant – UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum – SPF 30 (Lotion)(2-pack) All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 30 – Zinc Oxide – Coral Reef Safe – Water Resistant – UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum (3 oz)(2-Pack)
  • Lightweight, with the active ingredient zinc oxide 14%, this reef safe sunscreen also helps fight signs of aging caused by the sun because it contains rose hip oil that’s rich in free radical fighting vitamin C. In addition, since it’s sweat resistent, you can be active (hike, bike, run, etc) with full UVA/UVB protection. Bonus: it is gmo-free, gluten free, vegan, and biodegradable.
  • Keep in mind: for destinations with very high UV radiation levels, those who tend to burn more easily may want to try a higher SPF. In this case, try ALL GOOD Sports Butter Stick – Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen for Face.

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen – No Chemical Actives – SPF 30+ UVA/UVB Protection, 3 oz 2 Pack
  • This reef safe sunscreen, with active ingredients 8% titanium dioxide and 10% zinc oxide, helps reduce the risk of photo aging. It also has a feature called ‘Smart Cap Technology’ where a special dye is used in the plastic that is sensitive to harmful UV light, so that when the bottle (or tube cap) turns blue, you know it’s time to apply sunscreen. Bonus: it is cruelty-free.
  • For those with sensitive skin, try BLUE LIZARD – Australian Sensitive Mineral SPF 30 Face Sunscreen — just keep in mind that the formula for sensitive skin is not water resistant or sweat resistant

SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield SPF 35 Sunscreen, 1.85 Oz
  • Lightweight and unscented with active ingredients 5% titanium dioxide and 6% zinc oxide, this reef safe sunscreen is formulated especially for sensitive and post-procedure skin types. It contains antioxidants and caffeine to help prevent signs of aging, as well as green tea to calm, soothe and reduce redness. Bonus: it is gluten-free and hypoallergenic.

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  1. Restoring Reefs Worldwide With Reef Renewal International | Magic Breezes Travel

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