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How to keep your skin and our reefs safe at the same time!

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Protect your skin and our reefs with these simple switches

Reef friendly sunscreen
Reef safe sunscreen (photo by Sara Scarpa)

Skincare is vitally important for our overall health. No one likes a mean sunburn so its important to protect your skin, especially when diving as this tends to be an activity that takes place in sunnier climates. On top of that, the reflection from the water’s surface will accentuate your sun exposure so don’t get lazy with covering up during those surface interval stops.

So, we all agree on the importance of protecting our skin, right? Excellent! Now, let’s talk about what we’re actually putting on our skin because it washes straight off into the water around us and those chemicals will affect our reefs and the animals within it.

The key ingredients to look out for when buying sunscreen are: oxybenzone and octinoxate. Avoid these at all costs as while they are great at absorbing harmful UV rays, they are incredibly toxic to marine life. They have also been linked to potential coral bleaching events, and we all know how destructive those are for our oceans.

You are also going to want to look out for various different parabens used as preservatives in these creams, which are also dangerous to marine critters - both big and small.

Now, you might think you don’t put enough sunscreen on to really warrant making the switch to reef-friendly products, but consider how many other people are also lathering on their sunscreens and re-applying… and re-applying again.

Opt for creams that are listed as reef-safe wherever possible. We are not going to promote a specific brand here today but it’s not hard to do a quick web search to find an array of options out there.

An even better option is to consider donning some sun protective clothing with a suitably high UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. According to the website, this should be a rating of 30 or higher.

Let’s work to show others that we can keep ourselves and our oceans safe at the same time!

1 Comment

Aug 06, 2021

There is an interesting article in the British Guardian titled ''Lotion in the ocean: is your sunscreen killing the sea?''

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