The importance of non-chemical sunscreen for the reef

Gabrielle Koster

Do you love to visit tropical places? Swim in the ocean or maybe even surf, snorkel or dive while wearing sunscreen? Don’t hesitate to read on. The following information might be very useful.

Big chance that the sun is shining when you’re visiting those tropical places. And even though the sun warms our skins and causes our bodies to create vitamin D, the UVA and UVB rays can also be harmful for our skin. By damaging the skin’s cellular DNA, excessive UV radiation produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. But you probably already knew that. What you didn’t know: when you protect your own skin, you might me damaging the corals in the ocean.

Sunscreen is killing the reef

A chemical in sunscreen is contributing to the destruction of the coral reefs. Which chemical? It’s called oxybenzone and it’s found in most sunscreens. “Contamination and Toxicology found that the chemical oxybenzone has toxic effects on young coral that causes endocrine disruption, DNA damage and death of coral, among other the problems. Oxybenzone also exacerbates coral bleaching, a process by which coral reject symbiotic organisms and lose their color. Bleaching has been particularly prevalent in recent years due to rising sea temperatures” – according to Time Magazine.

So while you’re stil enjoying the beautiful reefs and the oceans inhabitants, those beautiful corals might be gone in a few years because of the toxics that enter the water via your sunscreen. Currently, somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enters coral reef areas around the world each year, according to the U.S. National Park Service. Auch, that’s a lot, isn’t it?

What can you do?

Don’t stop protecting your skin against harmful sunrays. Just choose your sun protection wisely. Check the ingredients for oxybenzone. And if you really want nothing to do with chemicals (which can be really bad for our bodies as well!), opt for a 100% natural sunscreen.

Which brands have natural sunscreen?

I’ve been using Biosolis oil (factor 6) which definitely protects my skin big time. I’m also a big fan of John Masters Organics, their factors are a lot higher and the lotion works really well. Recently I found out about SMPL skincare, they have sunscreen with factor 25 and I’ve been using it while traveling through Nicaragua. It protected my skin really well and made it supersoft after spending hours in the salty ocean.