For information and guidance, we turned to NOAA
How sunscreen chemicals can affect marine life:
- Green Algae: Can impair growth and photosynthesis.
- Coral: Accumulates in tissues. Can induce bleaching, damage DNA, deform young, and even kill.
- Mussels: Can induce defects in young.
- Sea Urchins: Can damage immune and reproductive systems, and deform young.
- Fish: Can decrease fertility and reproduction, and cause female characteristics in male fish.
- Dolphins: Can accumulate in tissue and be transferred to young.
"Scientific evidence has been mounting in recent years on how sunscreen may be harming delicate coral reefs. Though they look like rocks, corals are actually animals closely related to jellyfish. Corals are very sensitive to changes in the water they live in, especially shifts in temperature and increases in contaminants. When subjected to sudden changes, corals sometimes become “bleached”: they lose the algae that gives them color and nutrients. Bleaching can result in the death of the coral." The sunscreen ingredients that can harm coral reefs are:
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor
- 3-Benzylidene camphor
- nano-Titanium dioxide
- nano-Zinc oxide
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe as long as they are “non-nano,” since nanoparticles are very small and can be consumed by coral reefs.
How Can You Protect Yourself And Our Marine Life?
Seek shade between 10 am & 2 pm, use Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) sunwear, and consider wearing mineral sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide or choose a sunscreen labeled “reef-safe,” which doesn’t contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, or octocrylene.
Beachpedia's List of "Reef Friendly" Sunscreens: Note This List is Not Comprehensive
- REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen (active: uncoated 22% zinc oxide)
- Badger Original Sunscreens (active: uncoated zinc oxide 18.75%)
- Raw Elements Tinted Moisturizer, face sticks, or lotions (active: zinc oxide 23%)
- Amavara Mineral Sunscreens (active: zinc oxide 19% - 22.25 %)
- SunButter SPF50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen (active: zinc oxide)
- BeautyCounter Countersun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30 (active: zinc oxide 14.5%) Great for full body coverage!
- Surfdurt (active: zinc oxide, percentages not provided)
- Olita Mineral Sunscreens (active: zinc oxide, percentages not provided)
- Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Stick (active: zinc oxide 25%)
- Kōkua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50 (active: zinc oxide 25%)
- TotLogic SPF30 Mineral Sunscreen (active: zinc oxide 20%)
- All Good Mineral Sunscreens (active: zinc oxide 12%)
- Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen (active: zinc oxide 3.7%, titanium dioxide 5.6%)
- Goddess Garden Mineral Sunscreen (active: zinc oxide 6%, titanium dioxide 6.4%)
- TropicSport Mineral Sunscreens (active: zinc oxide 8.6%, titanium dioxide 4.55)
- Tropical Sands SPF 30 Sunscreen (active: zinc oxide 6%, titanium dioxide 6%)
- Christina Moss Naturals Sunscreen (active: zinc oxide 6%, titanium dioxide 6%)
- Stream2Sea lotions (active: titanium dioxide 8.8%)