Best Sunscreen For You And Our Marine Life - Updated 2021

  • 2 min read

coral reef photo for Island Thyme Soap Company's reef-safe sunscreen blog post

Now that we call see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and people are heading out with their faces uncovered, it's time to turn our focus to a more dangerous kind of light; sunlight.  

Whether you're heading to the beach, a backyard BBQ, the garden or just getting out with your family, protecting your face from harmful UVA and UVB rays is more important than ever. There are tons of options on the market with several different SPF ratings; mineral, whipped, tinted. The basics to protect your skin from skin cancer haven't changed.  

Living on the Gulf Coast, what we are also concerned about is that a lot of the sunscreens on the market are harmful to marine ecosystems and coral reefs. 

Read Your Ingredients Labels

Harmful Sunscreen chemical ingredients that can harm you and affect marine life.
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Benzophenone-1
  • Benzophenone-8
  • 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.

The Harm That Can Be Done To 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.

Reef-safe Mineral Sunscreens

Reef-safe mineral sunscreens don't soak in to the skin. They sit on top of it and block UV rays. You may have to apply it more frequently, but with high SPF, it's effective, better for your skin and the environment.

Here's Beachpedia's List of "Reef Friendly" Sunscreens: