We've all heard the news that our sunscreen can be damaging to our ocean life - but what exactly does that mean?
Coral reefs are precious to the world’s health and sunscreen is important for ours, and luckily there are ways that we can protect both! Did you also know that coral reefs help purify the water, protect coastlines from wave action and storms, and provide habitats and shelter for a vast diversity of marine species? Unfortunately, more than half of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by rising ocean temperatures and pollution.
In an effort to protect these invaluable resources, some places are passing laws to limit harmful chemicals found in some sunscreens and cosmetics. Hawaii passed a law that beginning January 1, 2021 will prohibit sunscreens that contain contain damaging chemicals (like oxybenzone or octinoxate) from being sold in Hawaii. Research has shown that these chemicals can contribute to coral bleaching, corals becoming deformed, and dying. When we put these products on our bodies and go swimming or even shower them off, they end up in our oceans.
Here's where you come in to help.
The best sunscreen to use has natural mineral ingredients such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide. Rather than absorbing into the skin the way chemical sunscreens do, mineral sunscreens create a barrier between our skin and the sun to reflect the sun’s rays. Sometimes labels can be confusing or misleading, so find the products with active ingredients of titanium or zinc oxide. We can also choose to wear protective clothing when in the sun or avoiding being outside when the sun is its strongest.
Luckily, many sunscreen brands are currently available that allow us to be both reef safe and sun safe. Outrigger resorts around the globe have been promoting and providing reef-friendly sunscreens since 2014, and today, these reef-friendly options are available at most drug stores! We can be confident that as more people choose mineral sunscreens, we will see more options that keep both us and our oceans healthy.
Still celebrating World Oceans Day? Us, too! We're making a whole month of it on social media throughout June. #we🧡ourcoralreefs