Reef Safe Sunscreen

​It’s summertime and that means it’s beach time! Sand in your hair, the water on your feet, and beautiful sun kissed skin is what you’re most likely looking forward to, and although all of those things bring you joy it’s time to stop and think about what the ocean really needs. A rising problem throughout many beach vacation spots is that their coral reefs are being destroyed. Whether this is due to chemicals entering the water or visitors not being aware and walking on them in the water, they are suffering the consequences. It is time to do our part and help save these coral reefs. It is important to know that when planning a beach vacation, it is vital to do a little research and see what the specific beach you are attending has rules for. For example, if you are planning on attending places such as Hawaii, Key West, parts of Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Aruba, Bonaire or Palau each of these require reef safe sunscreen. With controversy arising, it's also important that we discuss the difference between reef SAFE and reef FRIENDLY sunscreen. It is vital to use the correct type of sunscreen when attending these beaches where their reefs are at risk. So, let us get into sunscreens that are appropriate and not appropriate for these vacations.


Beside research, the best way to know if a sunscreen is reef safe or not is by looking at the chemicals and ingredients that it is made up of. If it has one of the following chemicals or ingredients, it is NOT reef safe: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, PABA, parabens, triclosan, any nanoparticles or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium, or any sunscreen that has exfoliating beads. Now let’s talk about specific sunscreens that are not reef safe. No matter what you have heard or seen, Sun Bum is NOT reef safe. They are reef “friendly” but still contain harmful chemicals that put coral reefs at risk. It is not worth it. Feel free to use it at home or when you are not getting in the water, but if there is ever a chance that you will be entering a beach with coral reefs, do not apply Sun Bum. Other sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals include: Alba Hawaiian Sunscreen, Coppertone, Naturopathica, Neutrogena, Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat and many more. If you are going to one of these beaches, I strongly recommend you to not use these sunscreens not because they destroy coral reefs but also because it is illegal to use non reef safe sunscreen there. First time offenders will be charged $1,000, and this will continue to double as the offenses rack up. When traveling, please do your research and do your best to respect the rules of the city or island you are visiting.


Now that we have talked about the sunscreens that should not be used in these places, let’s talk about what sunscreens are appropriate to use, why, and the difference between them and other sunscreen. To get right to the point, almost no clear spray sunscreen is going to be reef safe. Why, you ask? This is because the chemicals mentioned above are in these sunscreens in order to make it clear. I get it, no one wants to look like Mr. Frost at the beach, but to help keep reefs safe, this is what has to be done. It is normally safe to say that the majority of spray sunscreens are not reef safe. Yes, this makes the application process quite a bit longer, but it is worth it. A big problem that arises with reef safe sunscreen is that it does not normally last as long as the others that we are used to. They apply on thick, which can be deceiving, but it is crucial that you reapply throughout the day or else you risk looking like this when you get home….

The sunscreen normally lasts for 40-60 minutes so it is suggested that you reapply hourly, take that as you may. Now that we’ve hit the basics, let us talk specifics.


Mama Kuleana

- Ocean, lake and river safe

- Water and sweat resistant

- Mineral based

- Microplastic free, and come in biodegradable and compostable bottles

- No toxins that would affect wildlife, the environment or us


Raw Love

- Mineral based

- Eco-friendly

- Fragrance free

- Water resistant

- FDA approved


Raw Elements

- Mineral based

- Plastic free

- Recyclable packaging

- Certified


Sea & Summit

- Mineral based

- Sunscreen and tanning lotion

- Plastic neutral

- Certified


Make sure to do your research and buy your reef safe sunscreen it can help our world's reefs

keep from looking like this and turn it into this!!

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