We all use sunscreen to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, which can otherwise cause skin cancer. This is especially necessary when we are exposed to the sun while at the beach without any protective clothing or shade. Our skin is a very vulnerable sensory organ that needs constant care.

As important as sunscreens are, did you know that it contains certain elements that are harmful to the environment? There are chemical ingredients called oxybenzone and octinoxate that are commonly used in sunscreen lotions. They help absorb the hazardous UV rays. However, these same chemicals are extremely dangerous for the coral reefs and other marine life, as they can bleach and eventually kill them. Several studies and research in the US have shown that in a year over 14000 tons of sunscreen seep into the ocean and sea. Based on this alarming study, Hawaii is taking the first step at protecting its marine life by passing a law that bans the entry or sale of sunscreen that is not reef safe. The law is said to come into effect from January 2021. Hopefully, this sets an example for the rest of the world.

Thankfully today there are brands that are producing reef-safe or ocean-safe sunscreens to protect both marine life and humans. These sunscreens are made from eco-friendly ingredients. Apart from this they also contain non-nano particles which make them reef safe as according to research the particle size also matters. Another key point to note while scouting for a reef-safe sunscreen is that it should contain minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both of which are considered to cause less damage to marine life. However, it is most effective when both these minerals are non-nano.

While choosing a reef-safe sunscreen you should always buy the ones in the form of lotions over a mist or spray, even if the latter is more convenient to apply. The primary reason being, while the skin absorbs the lotion entirely when rubbed on it, a mist or spray can also get on the sand when applying. The sea or ocean then washes it off into itself. Hence, the smarter choice is a lotion.

Below is a list of a few recommended reef-safe sunscreens.

  1.       Thinksport Sunscreen
  2.       Badger – SPF 30 Active Mineral Sunscreen Cream
  3.       All Good Organic Sunscreen Butter Stick
  4.       Coral Safe All Natural Biodegradable Sunscreen
  5.       MANDA Organic Sun Paste
  6.       Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen

Remember to always read the labels carefully before buying any sunscreen the next time. Marine life suffers enough with tons of plastic waste being washed into the ocean and sea. We can do our bit by being responsible for the environment and eliminating more harm.  

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