With Summer right around the corner, most of us are probably looking forward to spending our days basking in the sun and getting in some much needed beach time. Before hitting the beach, don’t forget your Reef-Safe sunscreen!
Many conventional sunscreens contain several chemicals that are harmful to our bodies and the coral reef ecosystem. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, two commonly used chemicals in sunscreens have been found to cause significant damage to our corals. These chemicals are often used because of their ability to convert UV rays into harmless heat on human skin. But once they hit the water, they actually decrease the corals’ defense against bleaching, damage their DNA and disrupt their reproduction system, meaning that it leaves the younger corals without the ability to properly grow into adulthood. These sunscreens may protect your skin in the meantime, but they may also cause hormone disruption and have been linked to other health-related issues. While protecting your skin and your body, your sunscreen should be also protecting the coral reef ecosystem.
Globally, about 14,000 tons of sunscreen enters the oceans every year. Chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate are then exposed into the oceans not only from beach goers and swimmers, but also from sewage treatment plant outflows that carry out household products with these chemicals. A 2015 study showed that one drop of sunscreen with oxybenzone in the equivalent of six and a half Olympic-size swimming pools can cause serious damage with toxic effects. In Hawaii, concentrations more than 10 times that amount have been measured in popular swimming areas with some of the island's most pristine coral reefs.
To protect Hawai’i’s coral ecosystems, the state lawmakers passed a bill on May 1, 2019 that prohibits the sale and distribution of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. The bill is expected to take effect on January 1, 2021.
As beachgoers, swimmers, and ultimately sunscreen users, we can start by making a difference as soon as the next time we use sunscreen! By choosing natural, reef-safe sunscreens, we can promote the health of our own bodies, our community, and the environment.
Here’s some tips to understanding what Reef-Safe Sunscreen is:
- The only active ingredients should be Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Dioxide/Oxide.
- The term Reef-safe is used to refer to sunscreens without oxybenzone or octinoxate. The sunscreen can still contain other harmful chemicals.
- The higher the SPF does not mean the higher the UV protection. There is no possible way to block 100% of UV rays. Sunscreen labeling is loosely regulated and is a marketing attempt to attract buyers.
- Avoid aerosol sunscreen. These often leave a residue on sand that is washed into the ocean.
- Look for products with recyclable or reusable packaging.
“Protect yourselves, protect the Reef”
Use code: REEFSAFE for 10% any of our Reef Safe Sunscreen options!
Offer expires on May 24, 2020 at 11:59 HST.