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Where to find reef safe sunscreen (and why it matters)
I first started learning about reef safe sunscreen because we frequently travel to Hawaii. Hawaii does a lot better with sustainable practices than the rest of the U.S. For example, they don’t even have plastic bags. Now that is something that I wish would happen everywhere!
You may also enjoy 5 easy ways to reduce plastic today.
Back to the sunscreen, I started learning more about reef safe sunscreen from visiting Hawaii. Fortunately, I rarely wear sunscreen (more on that later) and if I do, I choose a natural brand. Most natural brands do not contain these harmful ingredients, so I was relieved that I wasn’t contributing to the problem.
So, why reef safe sunscreen?
Most chemical (aka regular) sunscreens contain a compound called oxybenzone. To put it simply. the oxybenzone damages coral reefs and marine ecosystems. You may think that a small amount of sunscreen doesn’t matter, but unfortunately, it does.
The best thing you can do to avoid damaging coral reefs and marine life is to avoid sun exposure at mid-day, wear protective clothing or if you must wear sunscreen, make sure it’s reef safe.
I’m not saying that you should never wear sunscreen, but remember that vitamin D is important and you get it from sun exposure. Fortunately, I don’t really burn, so most of the time I don’t wear sunscreen at all or I use a moisturizer with built-in sunscreen only on my face.
Wearing a rash guard is another good option if you’ll be spending time outside in the middle of the day. Rash guards protect your skin from sun damage without having to use sunscreen.
What else can you do?
The destruction of coral is due to many things and chemical sunscreen is only one of them. The main reasons that coral is dying are due to pollution, overfishing and climate change. It can seem really overwhelming to be facing such huge problems and only be one person. Jane Goodall said:
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
You can indeed make an impact by making decisions that protect the environment. Making choices like ditching plastic, going vegan, and choosing reusable items to reduce waste can go a long way toward living a sustainable life. Of course, you can also choose reef safe sunscreen!
Where to find reef safe sunscreen
Now if you do tend to sunburn, you’ll want to look into reef safe sunscreen. If you are repeatedly slathering on sunscreen and getting in the water, it’s extra important to be mindful of what is in your sunscreen. Being mindful of what you’re putting on your body is important for both the coral and for your health. There are 7 other chemicals that are known to be toxic to coral (and probably for you.) Look for a sunscreen without:
- OABA (Aminobenzoic Acid)
Fortunately, many of the larger skincare companies are making changes due to consumer demand. Well, maybe they actually care about the environment, but let’s be real, it’s most likely due to consumer demand.
There are also a lot of natural sunscreen companies that have been making reef-safe, human-safe sunscreen for a long time. I recommend choosing these brands because they typically have better ingredients all around.
Where to find reef safe sunscreen
You can find many of these sunscreens at big box stores, health food stores, and specialty stores. You can also find them on Amazon, which is my preferred way to purchase them. I have found it to be a lot to cheaper to purchase reef safe sunscreen on Amazon versus buying it somewhere like Whole Foods. Here are 7 brands of reef safe sunscreen to choose from.
The name is a mouthful, but the ingredients are minimal. This reef-safe sunscreen is also gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan.
The same brand as mentioned above also has stick sunscreen. I prefer using stick sunscreen because I don’t use it all over my entire body. I also like using stick sunscreen for kids because I find that it’s easier to put on them.
You might also enjoy: How to go zero waste with kids.
3. Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen
Raw Elements sunscreen has 97% organic ingredients, 100% natural ingredients and is cruelty-free.
I had to include this one because I love the name. Badger sunscreen is non-GMO, mostly organic and completely natural. This one does contain beeswax, so it is not vegan.
5. Coral Safe
As the name implies, Coral Safe is another reef safe sunscreen. This sunscreen is also 100% natural and is supposed to be good for snorkeling and scuba diving.
6. Coconut Joe’s
Yes, the aloe vera gel you’ve been slathering on yourself has lots of chemicals and only a small amount of aloe (if you’re lucky.) Trade in the weirdly-colored green stuff for something more natural and better for your body.
The Environment Working Group (EWG) gave ThinkSport sunscreen a perfect rating. It’s also made in the US and safe for kids.
I recently learned that Hawaii has now passed a bill that will ban the sale of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. That’s a huge win for Hawaii and their coral reefs! The law doesn’t go into effect until 2021, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully, other states and countries will follow.
I hope this post helped you figure out where to find reef safe sunscreen, and that you learned why choosing a reef safe sunscreen really matters! What choices are you making to live a more sustainable life? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing in the comments!
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