Sunscreens That Don’t Destroy Coral Reefs:5 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Sep. 18, 2020
We all know we need to wear sunscreen. When we’re kids, we often only do it because a parent tells us to, but as we grow up we know it’s imperative for protecting our skin from UV rays which can cause early signs of aging, burns, and cancer. 
Today, however, we also have increased awareness about the consequences of the skincare choices we make, from products that have been tested on animals to cheap creams that wash off into the ocean and into the lungs of fish. With every purchase we make, we also have to take into account the damage that can be done, or, indeed, prevented, as a result of our purchase. 
Thankfully, we have the internet on our side, and we can research and make informed, sensible choices when it comes to the sun creams we purchase. 
Why is sunscreen bad for the ocean? 
Two of the most common ingredients found in sunscreens are oxybenzone and octinoxate. One 2015 study from the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology found that oxybenzone poses a threat to coral reef conservation. What’s more, it is also expected to threaten the resiliency of coral reefs to future climate change.
Most products that contain SPF (primers, moisturizers, and foundations) also contain oxybenzone, which has been directly linked to coral bleaching, the biggest cause of coral death in the world. Surely that sounds like something we want to avoid being a part of?
Which sunscreens are reef-safe?
Generally, any sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone are reef safe, but some companies go one step further and print “Reef-Safe,” “Micronized” or “Non-Nano” on their bottles. 
This indicates that the particles in the sunscreen are not small enough to be harmful to marine life, and thus are reef-safe. 
Want to do your bit for the ocean and be protected against the sun’s rays? You need reef-safe sunscreen. Here are 5 of the best sunscreens that don’t destroy coral reefs. 
5 Reef-Safe Sunscreens 
  • Coola’s Mineral Face Organic Matte Finish Sunscreen
The name is a mouthful, but it’s worth it! As far as credentials go, Coola ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. Their products aren’t tested on animals, almost all are vegan, their products are free of parabens and GMOs, and all are 70% certified organic. 
This high-end sunblock offers lightweight coverage, featuring Coola’s antioxidant-rich complex of natural rosehip oil and evening primrose. It helps fight free radicals, it’s great for sensitive skin, and it doubles as the perfect makeup primer!
  • Alba Botanica’s Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen
This water-resistant sun cream is more on the affordable side, costing around $8 for a 113g bottle. As you’d expect, it’s reef safe, vegan, and paraben-free. It’s also gluten-free and fragrance-free. It’s great for those of us with sensitive skin that typically reacts to sunscreens with a fragrance. 
  • Blue Lizard’s Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion
Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen 30+ , BLUE LIZARD AUSTRALIAN SUNSCREEN, cherie
This popular Australian company makes paraben- and fragrance-free sunscreen, but this one is particularly interesting as the bottle turns blue when exposed to harmful UV rays. That’s certainly one way of reminding you to top up your sunscreen! Blue Lizard sunscreen is not tested on animals either, so that’s another box ticked. 
  • Badger’s Clear Zinc Sport Sunscreen
This family-run company has produced an unscented sunscreen that seems to be pretty much perfect in every way. It’s not tested on animals, non-GMO, reef-safe, and contains just five ingredients – three of which are organic. It’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and even the bottle is made with recycled materials. As with many sunscreen brands, the only thing preventing it from being fully vegan is the presence of organic beeswax. 
  • Supergoop’s PLAY Everyday Lotion
This striking little bottle of lotion has been enriched with rosemary, sunflower, and rice antioxidants for powerful moisture and protection. It defends the skin against UVA and UVB damage, protecting from dehydration and photoaging. It’s free of fragrances and parabens, coral reef safe and it is not tested on animals. 
While it may seem tricky to find a high-quality sunscreen that aligns with everything you want, it’s definitely possible! These days, there are so many choices for every skincare product you could imagine – all it takes is a little research to ensure your money is going to the right people. If you have the opportunity, there is no reason not to choose a great sunblock that can offer safe and reliable protection to us and our fishy friends.
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