I’ve been giving a great deal more thought recently to the sunscreens and suncare products that I am using when I am at the beach or going in the sea. Much has been discovered in the past few years about the dangers associated with some of the key ingredients in most sunscreens both for our skin and for the reef life in the ocean. Given the number of people visiting the beaches around the world and the popularity of water-based activities like surfing and snorkeling, experts estimate that 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the world’s reefs annually, with the chemicals quickly being absorbed by the fragile corals.
Coral bleaching has been on the environmental agenda for years, the state of the world’s reef life is precarious and just this year we received the devastating news that since 2016 over half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the largest in the world, has now perished. Coral reefs throughout the tropics continue to degrade year after year thanks to global-warming and human-caused chemical pollution in the waters.
Our impact on the ocean and the reefs has been brought more and more to the forefront and places like Hawaii and parts of Mexico are leading the way by banning the sunscreens that contain the common UV-filtering ingredients that are harmful to the coral reefs. Stay ahead of this trend and think more carefully about the ingredients going into your suncare products. A mineral-based sunscreen is much better for your skin and the delicate marine environment. The two ingredients that you should be particularly watching out for are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Widely used in suncreams because they absorb the harmful UV rays, they are also toxic and known to contribute to coral bleaching.
I actually spend far more time in swimming pools than in the ocean, but on occasions when I am out in open water, like our SNUBA adventures last weekend, or out on a boat day, I like to ensure that I am thinking more carefully about my sun protection. Now readily available on the market, Mineral products are the perfect alternative to the chemical-filled sun creams. I thought I would put together a round-up of some of my personal favourites, and some of the mineral sunscreens that I still want to try out! Have you tried any of them yet?
1. & 2. SunBum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 $13.49:
Newer on the market, suncare giant SunBum was quick to catch up with the reef-safe products and has recently launched their mineral range. Featured here is their Mineral Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 50 ($13.49) and their Mineral Face Stick also in SPF 50 ($12). I was such a fan of their original products that I will be sure to try these out.
3. Manda Organic Sun Paste SPF 50 $28:
As the name suggests, this is more of a solid paste and can leave some white colouration on the skin. This is a feature that many of the natural formulas share due to the use of zinc oxide. However it has excellent staying power and is highly recommended for more active users and claims that it’s performance-driven formula is specially designed for surfers, climbers, hikers, athletes and adventurers. The Manda Sun Paste is full of moisturizing ingredients including organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic cocoa butter and organic shea butter. Even the packaging is environmentally responsible and made out of bamboo and tin, recyclable or reusable as a storage tin for other items.
My personal favourite for days out at the beach, I always make sure that I have it with me in my beach bag. Lightweight and non-greasy, it offers excellent sun protection and is water resistant. Plus it smells great! I have the Citrus Mimosa Mineral Sunscreen in SPF 30 ($36), but I am also keen to try the Sport Tint Mineral Sunscreen Stick in SPF 50 ($24).
Using 100% all natural, plant based, farm to face ingredients, Raw Love uses antioxidant ingredients and moisturizes your skin as you use it. Another solid formula, Raw Love claims not to melt, even when in the hot sun. It goes on white and rubs in clear providing water-resistant SPF 35 protection.
Vegan, organic and cruelty-free Goddess Garden products tick a lot of boxes for those looking for an eco-friendly and responsible suncare product. This one has great reviews and has been on my wish list for some time. Lightly scented with lavender essential oil the Goddess Garden Everyday Natural Mineral Lotion offers gentle yet powerful sun protection with a formula rich in coconut and sunflower oils to nourish the skin.
As with many of the other products featured, Suntegrity is free of parabens and phthalates and great for both kids and adults. The formula contains organic green tea extract, cucumber extract and pomegranate seed oil. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen is labeled as Vegan, Non-Greasy and Non-Toxic.
So there we have it – just a small selection of the reef safe sun protection products available on the market. When in doubt, remember to carefully check the ingredients list. Ideally you’re looking for non-nano (meaning that ingredient particles are above 100 nanometers in size and cannot be ingested by the coral) mineral formulas with natural and organic ingredients. The absence of oxybenzone and octinoxate are also key. The other advantage to using natural formulas is that they work straight away when applied to your skin, instead of chemical sunscreens which need an average of 15-20 minutes of activation time before they protect you. Please remember to apply thoroughly and to re-apply after spending time in the water. A good sunhat and a decent rash guard is also advisable, especially when spending lots of time outdoors.
Have you made the switch to reef safe sunscreens yet?
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