Is your sunscreen harming the ocean?

Is your sunscreen harming the ocean?

Marine safe

Text: Gracie Stewart

You may think your sunscreen is doing a lot of good — protecting your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. But it probably contains chemicals that are harming marine life. Here are some eco-conscious options that do the job

By now we all know the importance of wearing sunscreen, but did you know that the same sunscreen you use to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays could also be killing our coral reefs and other marine life?

The problem is certain ingredients in sunscreens are toxic to the underwater environment. Studies have shown that sunscreens worn by swimmers, divers, snorkelers, fishermen and general ocean lovers have contributed to the decline of coral reefs. Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen washes off into our coral reefs every year and accelerates the process of coral bleaching, as well being toxic to certain reef fish species. 

The primary chemical culprit is oxybenzone, also known as benzophenone-3, which is used in sunscreen formulations by the majority of big beauty brands because it's FDA-approved. And yes, oxybenzone is very effective at reducing UV exposure, but it's also classified as a hazardous irritant for eye contact and slightly hazardous for direct skin contact. It has also now been listed as a direct cause of coral bleaching by scientists. So next time you go to take a dip, make sure you do yourself and the ocean a favour by applying one of these marine friendly sunscreens instead. Bonus: Most of these ship worldwide.

Stream2Sea has created an eco-friendly, biodegradable mineral-based formula with all natural ingredients to give your skin the UV protection it needs, without harming our beloved coral reefs.

Stream2Sea Sunscreen Sport SPF 30 UVA/UVB

Aethic was founded on the principle that your skin and the natural environment are each incredibly valuable and therefore they deserve the best care you can possibly give to them. As a result, their Aethic Sôvée is the first sunscreen in the world to be awarded the prestigious Marine Positive Certificate.

Aethic Sôvée Triple-Filter Ecocompatible Sunscreen SPF40

All Badger sunscreens are ocean friendly but the new SPF 30 Clear Zinc Sunscreen uses a non-whitening zinc oxide meaning you get the best of both worlds — people and reef safe, effective broad spectrum protection and no white residue.

Badger Broad Spectrum SPF30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen

Surf Life Saving Australia
The innovative range of marine friendly sunscreen from Surf Life Saving Australia is formulated without oxybenzone or methoxycinnimate meaning it won't harm our ocean friends. Plus, this clear mist is super easy to apply.

Surf Life SavingSport Sunscreen SPF50+