When you’re shopping for sun protection, you get bombarded with marketing terms like ‘paraben-free’ and ‘acne-friendly’. It’s just how these products are promoted. One specific term is increasingly being seen in the sunscreen industry, and that’s reef safe sunscreen – but what does it mean exactly?
Well, to answer that, we have to look at a problem that’s affecting marine ecosystems across the world, especially coral reefs. Threatening their very existence by making these areas uninhabitable, millions of tonnes of chemical sunscreens pour into the oceans each year, causing untold damage.
Reef Safe Sunscreen Is Harmless to Nature
The chief offenders in chemical sunscreens are octinoxate and oxybenzone, which causes bleaching of the coral habitats, making them turn white. Rather than being vibrant underwater ecosystems, coral affected in this way turns a lifeless, colorless chalky hue. On the other hand, reef safe sunscreen has no such effect as it’s made very differently.
These mineral sunscreens have compounds like zinc oxide as their base – something that occurs in nature, and when it enters the water, it simply disperses, leaving marine wildlife well alone. They’re inert substances, rather than fragranced lab-made products.
4,000-6,000 Tonnes of Chemical Sunscreens
If you’re still unsure about the scale of what we’re talking about here, please consider this. Around 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes of chemical sunscreens find their way into the world’s oceans each year, and that’s equivalent to 182 shipping containers of the stuff each and every year. No wonder it’s having such an impact on our precious reefs.
It doesn’t even require that the person wearing these sunscreens to go into the water for it to find it’s way into the sea, either. You see if you never even enter the water, it still ends up there via the water that you use for a shower later that day. It simply takes a little longer to get there.
Safe, Biodegradable & Eco-friendly
When you see this term emblazoned on the side of a sunscreen bottle, you get the reassurance of knowing that they break down naturally, as most big brands are biodegradable. As such, the ecological balance is maintained, meaning that everyone can stay safe in the sun without it being at the expense of Mother Nature.
If you’re a swimmer, scuba diver or even just someone who likes to lay about on the beach, you need to be sun-safe, so not wearing sunscreen isn’t an option.
Do the Planet a Favor and Choose Reef Safe Sunscreen
When you think about the peril that the world is in right now, and all it takes to tackle one big part of the problem is to change the sunscreen you use, it’s worth doing, wouldn’t you say? Sure, there’s an awful lot more we can all do to protect the planet, but saving the reefs represents a big part of it.
Despite only covering 1% of the ocean’s area, these beautiful habitats contain over 25% of all marine life, so their importance cannot be overstated. For this reason and more besides, mineral sunscreen is the best option for the world and your skin.
Throw in the fact that mineral sunscreens are also gentler on your skin and work immediately upon application, and you also get to benefit from their use, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Also, by making informed choices about sun protection, we can all contribute to the preservation of these vital ecosystems, ensuring their survival for future generations to marvel at and enjoy.