Reef Safe Sun Cream
If you dive, snorkel, or even swim near corals please look at the active ingredients in your sun cream. Many people do not know that sunscreen can damage coral. I never knew and the figure sounds incomprehensible but estimates claim that “between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen washes off into our seas every year".
Well, some of the chemicals in sun cream bleach coral. There is one chemical that is particularly to blame, oxybenzone. This has been shown to kill coral and cause DNA damage. It prevents coral from reaching adulthood by trapping it in its own skeleton, making it unable to float within currents for distribution.
Oxybenzone has also been linked to coral bleaching, wherein corals expel the colourful algae living inside them, leaving the bleached-looking exoskeleton behind, and ultimately leading to coral reef death.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (both found in many sun cream) never biodegrade. Both of which have the potential to harm corals and sea life. Some also contain mineral oil (petroleum), which slowly biodegrades and is known to be harmful or fatal to some aquatic life and birds.
It is not sun cream alone that is killing reefs and aquatic life but we can make an active decision not to add to the burden by looking at the ingredients on the packet.
These are the chemicals to look out for:
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Zinc oxide
- Titanium dioxide
Type "aquatic safe sun cream" into a browser and you will get lots of suggestions of safe sun cream to use. So yes we are protecting our skins from the effects of the sun. However, we should think about what effect this has on the coral that we all love to see. If it contains any of the chemicals above leave it on the beach!
UK available coral safe sun creams include.
Green People, a UK-based small company, focuses on natural and organic skin-care products. They never test on animals and never use any harsh chemicals. They also work alongside the Marine Conservation Society to highlight sunscreen’s impact on the marine environment.
Raw Elements available in the UK from Vitamin Grocer your skin, our ocean, one sunscreen,” specializes in sun and lip-care for water-based activities. Their Eco Formula 30 is water-resistant past 80 minutes, non-GMO, and is never tested on animals.
Danish company Reimann manufacture P20 a once a day sun protection. One application gives you 10 hours of reliable sun protection. This stuff even remains very water resistant even after 80 minutes in the water. Be careful when applying as you need to let it dry before putting clothes on or they can get stained. If you use chlorine-based detergents these stains turn pink!