Protect Our Oceans with Reef Safe Sunscreen

Coral Reef

Research continues to show that chemicals and plastics are harmful on wildlife, especially marine animals. Ocean plastic alters the diet of marine animals and chemicals from products like sunscreen kill coral reefs. 

According to The Economist, 20% of coral reefs around the world have died in the last five years, and sunscreen has played a large role in thatThanks to humans, an estimated that 6,000 to 14,000 tons of sunscreen reach the coral reefs each year.  

We wear sunscreen to protect our skin from the harmful rays of the sun, but most of us don’t think about what happens to our sunscreen when we go swimming. Those chemicals slide off our skin into the ocean and are then ingested by marine life. 

Does this mean we have to stop using sunscreen altogether, exposing ourselves to harmful UV rays from the sun? No. Reef safe sunscreens can provide us with the best of both worlds. These sunscreens protect us from the sun and don’t contain chemicals that will kill the reef. 

As we look to create sustainable promotional product assortments for our clients, custom branded sunscreen and promotional lip balm top our list for summer give-aways. Our organic lip balm manufacturer has recently launched a line of custom logo reef safe sunscreen.  

Reef Safe Sunscreen

What is reef safe sunscreen? 

Most sunscreens contain chemicals such as oxybenzone that are known to kill coral reefs. But reef safe sunscreens don’t contain these harmful chemicals. Instead they contain Nano-particles of minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that can be absorbed by the coral reef without any negative impact to that sensitive ecosystem. 

Are they effective on my skin? 

Yes, reef safe sunscreens are still effective. Zinc oxide is a natural ingredient that is known to prevent the sun’s UV rays from entering your skin cells and causing harm. In addition, it leaves no residue and is safe and effective. 

What is the exact problem with sunscreen?

Many studies show the negative correlation between oxybenzone and coral reefs. One such prominent study is the one done by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory based in Clifford, Virginia. This study shows that oxybenzone is toxic to the symbiotic algae that live in coral reefs. These algae give corals their rich color and allows them to grow. Another study by Environmental Health Perspectives concluded that sunscreens with oxybenzone increase viral infection among coral, and this eventually leads to their bleaching. 

Are there any laws in this regard? 

The recent findings about the impact of sunscreen on coral reefs have led many states and cities to ban the use of these sunscreens.  

According to Karen Zraick of The New York Times, Key West has banned the use of sunscreens to protect the coral reef at the southernmost tip of FloridaThe reef in Florida’s Keys is about 150 miles long, making it the third largest coral ecosystem in the world. It supports hundreds of marine lives and sustains the entire ecosystem of this region.  

These coral reefs attract thousands of divers and swimmers every year and law makers believe that this ban is the first step to protect these fragile corals. The law specifically bans sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. The legislation will go into effect on Jan 1, 2021 to give manufacturers and consumers plenty of time to make the switch. 

Besides Florida, states like Hawaii and Palau have also enacted legislation to protect coral reefs. Some parts of Mexico have even banned any non-biodegradable sunscreens to avoid any impact on marine life whatsoever. Though Hawaii bans the same two chemicals as Key West, Palau has a list of 10 chemicals and it could include more, before the legislation comes into effect in 2021. 


Can this switch to reef safe sunscreens protect the corals? 

Yes! Though many people argue that banning sunscreens alone are not enough to protect coral reefs, it is an important step towards ecotourism and sustainable living.  

Many environmental groups that strive towards protecting coral reefs recommend protective clothing and wearing eco-friendly sunscreens.  

Some tour companies are also insisting that their customers use reef safe sunscreens. A case in point is Big Blue Unlimited, a tour operator in Turks & Caicos Islands, famed for their coral reef tours. Their website clearly states that it will only allow those tourists who use eco-friendly sunscreens to join their toursThey also tell their customers well in advance and put it in their terms and conditions to make it easy for people to shop at home and come prepared to enjoy the coral reefs. 

Many resorts are also spreading word about these reef safe sunscreens and some natural reserves like Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park permit only reef safe sunscreens. 

Branded Reef Safe Sunscreen

Where can I get custom logo reef safe sunscreen?

The good news is many manufacturers have already started making sunscreens that meet the new legislation and concerns. We’re doing our part to stay on top of these environmental studies so we can help our clients make informed decisions about their promotional merchandise. Contact us for more information on our promotional reef safe sunscreen – it’s the perfect summer give-away!