Sunscreen is one of those items that we can't live without if we want to stay safe during the summer. But between the chemicals, the aerosol cans, and the plastic tubes, it's not exactly something that's good for the environment.
In recent years, many brands have marketed products as "reef-safe" or "marine friendly." The trouble is, there isn't a lot of research on sunscreen and its effects on aquatic life. So what do you need to know about protecting yourself from sunburn without hurting marine life?
Do reef-safe sunscreen brands live up to the hype?
While there's no doubt that reef-safe sunscreens are better for the environment than their conventional counterparts, it's important to consider that not all of them are created equal. In fact, many brands claim they're "reef-safe" when they're actually not.
For example, some brands advertise their products as "reef-safe" or "eco-friendly," but don't specify which ingredients have been replaced with safer alternatives. Others go so far as to hide behind vague statements like "we don't test our products on animals or humans."
Instead, what you want is a specific list of ingredients and how they compare to one another—for example, zinc oxide is safer than titanium dioxide (which itself is better than oxybenzone).
If you want a sunscreen that will keep you healthy while also helping protect the oceans from chemical pollution, look for those that contain only non-nanoparticle zinc oxide and titanium dioxide filters (and avoid oxybenzone at all costs!).
What makes a sunscreen "reef-safe"?
There are two things to know about reef-safe sunscreens.
First, they contain ingredients that won't harm corals, and second, they're either not tested on animals or tested on coral reefs.
The first point means that the chemicals in the sunscreen don't cause damage to reefs; the second means that there's no reason for them to be tested on coral reefs because they're already safe when used by humans (which is why you see "reef-safe" or "not tested on animals" stamped on bottles).
So which sunscreens are best for marine life?
When it comes to protecting yourself from the sun, look for products that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate. Oxybenzone is a chemical that can cause coral bleaching, as well as deformities in baby coral. Octinoxate has also been shown to be harmful to coral reefs and other marine life, but it's not as toxic as oxybenzone."
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Look for a sunscreen with ingredients that are not harmful to coral reefs. This means avoiding oxybenzone and octinoxate at all costs.
Look for an SPF above 30, especially if you have fair skin or plan on spending time outdoors during midday hours when UV rays are strongest.
Make sure there's an expiration date printed on the bottle because once its gone bad (usually within three years from purchase), its effectiveness decreases quickly. Choose water resistant options over regular ones since when you are swimming or sweating outdoors these will be easier to apply.
Look for biodegradable formulas made with ingredients such as zinc oxide rather than nanoparticles whose toxicity level remains unknowns despite research efforts being made by scientists worldwide; organic oils like coconut oil which don't penetrate skin deeply enough into layers where they might cause reactions but still provide protection against UV rays; aloe vera gel which doesn't contain alcohol--the latter ingredient helps kill bacteria while germs thrive in warm environments where humans live.
It's important for us to find ways to protect ourselves from the sun without harming aquatic life.
Despite the environmental impact of sunscreen, it's important for us to find ways to protect ourselves from the sun without harming aquatic life. There are many options available that don't harm coral reefs or marine animals. If you're looking to buy sunscreen this summer, choose one that is reef-safe and safe for humans and the environment.
Though there may be no such thing as a perfect sunscreen, there are still many brands we can trust to protect our skin and the environment. The key is to make sure that we are aware of the ingredients in sunscreens we buy, so that when it comes time to head out on a beach trip or snorkeling adventure, we don't unknowingly bring any harmful chemicals with us.