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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Is Your Suncream Killing Coral Reefs?

Reef friendly suncream | E-K-W

Suncream, we all know we should wear it, it stops our skin becoming damaged and can help prevent cancer developing from our burns. What you may not realise though is that suncream can be damaging as well.

A few years ago, studies started emerging that our suncream is damaging corals and coral reefs. Some of the chemicals in suncream have been found to disrupt coral's growth and reproduction cycles which ultimately leads to bleaching. The findings from these studies have also identified that even a few drops of suncream can kill off large patches of coral. To put this into perspective in terms of size, 1 droplet of sumcream would affect 6 Olympic sized swimming pools which is huge, terrifyingly huge!

One of the most harmful chemicals, oxybenzone, doesn't just kill the corals though, the chemical found in many suncreams also feminises fish meaning the impact of what you wear could lead to a species extinction.

Now of course, suncream isn't the only impacting factor on coral reefs. Global warming and other environmental stresses are also contributing but that's not to say this issue isn't important. When thousands of people descend onto a beautiful beach every day in summer, the huge amounts of suncream and chemicals washes off into the sea is going to be vast.

The issue has been deemed of great enough concern that some regions of Mexico have banned the sale of products that contain oxybenzone and other chemicals that may threaten the environment from their eco reserves. Hawaii have also just changed the law and by 2021, the sale of suncreams with any of the chemicals proven to affect corals will be banned.

Reef friendly suncream | E-K-W

With new regulation coming into play the next question must be, what can we all do?

1. Know what suncream to avoid

The main chemicals to avoid are benzone (oxybenzone) which is the most common ingredient in suncream, around 3500 types to be more specific along with octinoxate and octocrylene. Other chemicals on the list to avoid are parabens (those horrible things that are bad for us to).

2. Understand what reef-safe suncreams are made of

Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are the main activating agents in suncream where no oxybezone is found. To ensure that this type isn't damaging for the coral, be sure to go for coated, non-nano ingredients which are larger than 150 nanometer. Why that size? Well, they're to large to be ingested by the corals and so don't affect them.

3. Don't be fooled by organic products

In todays world, many of us automatically associate organic with no chemicals. Although this is technically correct, some natural products can also be harmful to other species such as eucalyptus and lavender being dangerous to invertebrates.

4. Think about your suncream bottle

Using creams instead of sprays is far better for the environment. Spray bottles leads to suncream sticking to the sand. When it rains this allows the sunscreen residue to seep below the sand to where sea turtle eggs can often be found.

So what are the reef safe alternatives to Hawaiian Tropic, Garnier and L'Oreal Paris?

Well there's quite a lot, but here are some of the most recommended out there to try:

Badger | £12.79
Biodegradable, Vegan and Reef safe as well as being water resistant for up to 40 minutes.

Green People | £14.49 
Cruelty free,  Organic, Reef friendly and comes in plant based packaging that's fully recyclable, and it's also sold in wholefoods. WINNER!

Godess Garden | £22.50
Vegan, cruelty free, organic and non-nano reef safe as well as being water resisitant for 40 minutes.

Babo Botanicals | £13
Vegan, non-nano reef safe, paraben free and non-greasy. This suncream may look like its for children but it's water resistant for up to 80 minutes meaning it will last you when that dip in the ocean turns into a lilo hour.

REN Skincare  | £30.00
Cruelty free, non-nano reef safe, mattifying face suncream which comes in recyclable packaging as well.

All Good | £6.14
Bio degradable, non-nano reef safe, cruelty free and water resistant up to 80 minutes

Sun Balm | £16
Perfect for travel size, this suncream is free from the nasty reef effecting chemicals. Plus the factor 50 is great for those that burn more easily

Manda Sun Paste | £22.99
Organic, non-nano reef safe, SPF 50, perfect if you spend alot of time in the water.

BareMinerals Daily Prep | £26
Great for wearing under make up if you need a SPF

Check out your nearest organic shop/pharmacist. Wholefoods in London also stocks a variety of products which are reef friendly.

Have you ever thought about the effect of your suncream? What brands would you like to know about?


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