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What is Reef-Safe or Reef-Friendly Sunscreen?

what does reef safe mean

Reef-safe. This term has been getting thrown around like confetti over the last couple of years. But, what do the terms ‘reef-friendly' or reef-safe' mean?” Great question! Now that the summertime season is upon us, many people start practicing sun safety (even though it should be worn daily, all year). The type of sunscreen we use is always going to be a ‘hot topic' (see what I did there).

But, the type of ingredients in some sunscreens can actually cause damage to marine life and especially coral reefs.

Why Being Reef-Friendly is Uber Important:

Unfortunately, the damage already done to our ocean's ecosystem is rather massive. Plastic, trash, and chemicals have been polluting its waters for many many years. This pollution has caused harm to many of the living organisms, as well. People are starting to wake up and actually take steps to prevent, or where possible, reverse, the damage caused. Something as seemingly insignificant as switching to a mineral-based sunscreen, to help support the oceans ecosystem and its vulnerable coral reefs, can truly make a difference.

The Two Damage-Causing Culprits:

Oxybenzone: One of two ingredients commonly found in popular sunscreen brands that are harmful to coral reefs. Oxybenzone causes damage by allowing the reefs to bleach in waters 78 degrees, which normally, is not a bleaching temperature, a bleaching temperature is typically about 81.7 degrees. The lowered temperature allows damage to happen much more quickly - in as little as a few hours.

Octinoxate: Octinoxate also weakens the coral's defences, as well as causing serious damage to its DNA.

Both of these potentially harmful ingredients are found in the majority of chemical-based sunscreens. They are typically included due to their ability to block both types of UV rays. Mineral-based alternatives use different, but safe and effective ingredients instead. These alternative ingredients do the same job but without the harmful after effects.

Alternative, Reef-Friendly Sunscreen Options:

Mineral, also called physical sunscreens use environmentally (and coral reef) safe ingredients such as titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. These reef-friendly sunscreens are much better for the environment and work just as well as their far-more dangerous counterparts. Even well-known brands like Coppertone and Banana Boat are offering reef-friendly sunscreen options. As with anything else - do your research. Unfortunately, just because a label claims to be reef-friendly does not mean that its ingredients actually are. Know what you’re putting on your skin and know what you’re putting out into the world.

You might be thinking, "how does this really affect my life?" Well, these same chemicals that cause harm to marine life, can also negatively affect your health, as well. 

As a cruelty-free, vegan, and physical sunscreen brand, ZINC IT OVER, will always be reef-safe. Not only do we respect marine life, we respect ALL life, which is why being cruelty-free is a big part of who we are. We also take pride in being safe and effective for YOU!

reef-safe sunscreen facial mist

Frankly, there are so many things in this life that we get only one shot at - and humanity as a whole has a reputation of blowing these chances. The coral reefs are beautiful, magnificent, and one of nature's natural wonders. Aside from that, as a living organism, they have just as much right to live, be free, and be respected, as we do. So, why not take a simple step to protect our stunning coral reefs (and all the little fishies and creatures that call it home)?


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