Ocean-Safe Sunscreen and Why It's Important
Say goodbye to chemicals and hello to ocean and reef-safe SPF
17 July 2019
Wearing sunscreen and protecting your skin, especially in the summer is important.
But, did you know, while protecting yourself, you could be harming the environment around you?
Environmental issues are currently talked about more than ever before, and how things you do make a big impact. Recently, researchers have voiced their concerns about the harmful effects that chemical sunscreen has on the environment. And this comes down to two popular ingredients found in sunscreen - oxybenzone, and octinoxate, which have shown significant damage to coral reefs.
When oxybenzone is released via humans into our oceans, coral begins to reject that algae that live within its tissues. Algae is vital as it provides food and nutrients, which is essential to coral surviving. Without algae, coral “bleaches” and if the oxybenzone keeps entering the ocean, more and more coral will lose its color and die. Which is why it’s so important to choose a Reef and ocean-safe sunscreen.
Water that contains harmful SPF's from showers and swimming pools also ends up back into the ocean and contributes to the pollution.
Coral before and after it bleaches
You may be thinking, it’s just coral, it’s not a big deal but, it is. Coral houses 25% of marine species that we know of, and there are whole ecosystems that call coral their home. Scientists estimate that there are an additional 1 to 8 million undiscovered organisms that rely on coral to survive.
There is also talk that the future of medicine could be coral. This is because the biodiversity found in a coral’s ecosystem potentially holds the answer to a variety of human diseases. Coral and coral related life forms are currently being utilized in drugs for cancer, bacterial infections, and other diseases.
Healthy coral is also vital to our environment. Despite the fact that less than 1% of surface space on the earth is coral, it absorbs one-quarter of the ocean’s carbon dioxide. This means that CO2 would be released into our atmosphere majorly contributing to global warming.
It was found that 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in reefs worldwide.
Now that you are on board and agree that reef and ocean-safe SPF is the way to go, there is a dilemma. How do you keep your skin safe, but not harm the environment? Sadly, no sunscreen, yet, is completely harmless, but there are some that have a lot less impact than others.
You can do your part to help by changing out your chemical sunscreens for physical sunscreens. This means looking for a sunscreen with mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and avoiding those that contain oxybenzone, and octinoxate. The sun will stay off your skin and you will greatly reduce your impact on the ocean.
To help make the transition to reef and ocean safe SPF easy, here are several reef-safe options!
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