the importance of using reef-safe sunscreen: protecting our oceans and our future

Jun 21, 2024

When we head to the beach, sunscreen is a must-have item to protect our skin from harmful UV rays. However, what many people don’t realize is that the sunscreen they choose can have a significant impact on our oceans, particularly coral reefs. Using reef-safe sunscreen is crucial not just for the health of marine ecosystems, but for our well-being too.

What is Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

Reef-safe sunscreen is formulated without harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are commonly found in many conventional sunscreens. These chemicals have been shown to cause coral bleaching, damage to coral DNA, and hinder the growth of new coral. Reef-safe sunscreens use natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients, which are safe for marine life.

The Effect of Non-Reef Safe Sunscreen on the Ocean

Coral Reefs: The Underwater Ecosystem

Coral reefs are incredibly important to marine life. They provide habitat, food, and breeding grounds for approximately 25% of all marine species. They also play a critical role in the larger marine ecosystem, supporting fish populations that are vital for human consumption and maintaining the health of our oceans.

How Sunscreen Damages Reefs

When people swim in the ocean wearing non-reef safe sunscreen, the chemicals wash off their skin and enter the water. Even small amounts of these chemicals can cause coral bleaching, a phenomenon where corals lose their vibrant colors and turn white. This bleaching indicates stress and damage to the coral, often leading to its death. Damaged reefs are less able to support marine life, leading to a decline in biodiversity.

The Ripple Effect: How Damaging Reefs Affects Us All

Loss of Marine Life

Healthy coral reefs support a diverse array of marine species, including fish that are crucial for commercial and recreational fishing industries. As coral reefs die, fish populations decline, impacting food sources and livelihoods for millions of people globally.

Coastal Protection

Coral reefs act as natural barriers, protecting coastlines from erosion and storm surges. Without healthy reefs, coastal communities become more vulnerable to the impacts of hurricanes and typhoons, which are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.

Tourism and Economy

Many coastal regions rely on tourism, with coral reefs being a major attraction for snorkeling, diving, and other recreational activities. Damaged reefs can lead to a decrease in tourism, affecting local economies and reducing income for businesses and communities that depend on visitors.

The Human Connection: Why It Matters

Healthier Oceans, Healthier Planet

Oceans are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystem. They regulate climate, produce oxygen, and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people. Protecting coral reefs by using reef-safe sunscreen helps ensure that our oceans remain healthy and resilient.

Making Informed Choices

By choosing reef-safe sunscreen, we can make a positive impact on the environment. It’s a simple change that can have far-reaching benefits. Not only does it protect our skin, but it also helps preserve the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

How You Can Make a Difference

1. Choose Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Look for sunscreens labeled as "reef-safe" or "reef-friendly," and check the ingredients to ensure they do not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate.
2. Educate Others: Spread awareness about the importance of using reef-safe sunscreen. Encourage friends and family to make the switch.
3. Support Conservation Efforts: Donate to or volunteer with organizations dedicated to protecting coral reefs and marine life.

Protecting Our Oceans, Our Bodies and Our Future

Using reef-safe sunscreen is a small yet powerful step we can all take to protect our oceans and the incredible ecosystems they support. By making this choice, we contribute to the health of our body and the planet and ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty and benefits of vibrant coral reefs. Let’s take action today for a healthier, more sustainable tomorrow.

What Can You Do?

By making mindful choices, like choosing ästhetik skincare's organic tinted mineral vegan sunscreen SPF50, you can help preserve our beautiful oceans and your skin! SHOP