Reef-friendly sunscreens are not only safer for the reef... They are better for you, safer to use on your children and pets, and they are the best long-term investment you can make for your skin.
1. Reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature ageing
The majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to excess UV radiation. So being sun smart is a simple and effective way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. However, not all sunscreens are created equal. The most common sunscreens contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. There are many uncertainties about the long-term impact of these chemicals to human health. In recent FDA testing, all non-mineral sunscreen chemicals absorbed into the body and could be measured in blood after just a single use, and many sunscreen ingredients have been detected in breast milk and urine samples (Matta 2019, Matta 2020) [source ewg.org].
Evidence suggests that few if any zinc or titanium particles from mineral sunscreens penetrate the skin to reach living tissues. Mineral filters have many advantages over chemical ones: they provide immediate protection against both UVA and UVB rays without losing their effectiveness or forming possibly harmful breakdown products. Zinc oxide in particular is the only FDA* and TGA** approved broad-spectrum sun protection ingredient, and unlike any other active ingredient, its concentration in a product has no limitation. It is also the EWG (Environmental Working Group) nº1 ingredient for sun protection. In order to provide high sun protection, zinc should be at a minimum concentration of 20%.
* Food & Drug Administration (US Government).
** Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australian Government).
2. Improve skin health and natural glow
Reef friendly sunscreens are better for your skin. That is because reef-friendly sunscreens generally exclude harsh chemicals such as benzophenones, parabens, and other skin irritants that are also environmental pollutants. A healthy, hydrated skin will cope better to sun exposure and naturally build a healthy glow. Reef-safe sunscreens using zinc oxide in particular, provide excellent broad-spectrum protection while enhancing skin function. Zinc oxide is also effective for healing the skin. It can be used to heal wounds, reduce the tenderness associated with sunburns and soften chapped skin. It is sometimes used as an acne treatment - it is believed to reduce the appearance of blemishes and reduce skin irritation and inflammation, reducing the number and severity of acne breakouts. Most mineral sunscreens will contain nourishing oil to improve emollience and product consistence, further helping skin response with UV-stress.
3. Pregnacy-safe and suitable for sensitive skin & children
Mineral UV-filters are commonly found in the composition of baby sunscreens, as they are safe for very sensitive skin types, have cleaner ingredients and offer excellent and broad-spectrum sun protection. But shouldn’t these standards apply to everyone? Ingredients in sunscreens should not be irritating or cause skin allergies. Most people with sensitive skin will read the label on their sunscreen bottle, looking out for skin irritants and allergens. Reef-safe sunscreens will generally contain less or no harsh chemicals as these also turn out to be bad for marine life. That’s why reef-friendly sunscreens are not only safer for the reef…they are the best sun protection for your children, safe to use while pregnant and even safe to use on your pets! Remember that certain brands falsely claim to be "Reef-Safe" but actually contain harmful chemicals, so always check the label and prefer brands that exclusively use mineral filters (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). All our sunscreens are pregnancy safe, suitable for sensitive skin and children.
4. Gentle on coral reefs and ocean life
Coral reefs ecosystems worldwide are under great pressure from global and local stressors such as climate change, overfishing and water-pollution. More recently, scientists in Hawaii detected an insidious killer on the reef: sunscreen pollution. 97% of sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs, even at small concentrations. These products typically include a combination of two to six of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
The solution to this threat is simple: make the switch to reef-safe sunscreens. A good reef-friendly sunscreen should at least exclude chemical UV-filters (oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate). Remember that certain brands falsely claim to be "Reef-Safe" but actually contain harmful chemicals, so always check the label and prefer brands that exclusively use physical filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Sometimes, the best way to protect your skin while limiting the wash-off of chemicals into the ocean is to seek shade and wear UV-protective clothing.
5. The best long-term value for money
A good reef-friendly sunscreen shouldn’t include water or synthetic fillers, meaning that for the same volume of sunscreen, your tube will last you longer and work better at protecting your skin (as there no dilution of SPF actives). For this reason, most reef-safe sunscreens feel thicker than mainstream SPF lotions (most brands heavily dilute with water). A little reef-safe sunscreen goes a long way!
Choosing reef-safe sunscreen is also an investment for long-term skin-health, as they are free of harsh chemicals that can have multiple side effects on skin function and pH. Plus, applying broad-spectrum sunscreen daily is recognised as the #1 anti-ageing routine by dermatologists and significantly reduces your chances of developing skin cancer.
Finally, making the switch to reef-safe sunscreen is an investment in the future of fragile marine ecosystems, important to protect for their beauty, the biodiversity they harvest and the countless goods and services they provide to billions of human livelihoods (tourism, fishing, coastal protection, pharmacy, etc.). Go Reef-safe!