Reef Safe Sunscreen- Why is it important?

by Maddie Vlismas
If you have your nose to the ground like we do, you’ve probably heard of the huge coral bleaching phenomena caused by our rising ocean temperatures thanks to Global Warming.

Coral bleaching is when life-sustaining algae that lives in the coral structures disappears, leaving the skeletons white, bare and likely to starve. It can take decades for coral reefs to recover from a bleaching event (if ever) so it’s vital that we make a change to stop these events from happening.

Did you also know that the chemicals in sunscreen can induce the same intense bleaching response in coral? 

These nasty chemicals that protect our skin from harmful UV rays wash off of our skin when we’re swimming at the beach and are then absorbed by the coral reefs in our beautiful ocean. They’re not only bad for your skin, but are incredibly toxic to marine life. Currently, estimations are that 14,000 tons of sunscreen are deposited into our oceans each year.

So what can we do?

The answer is pretty simple, actually: switch from your usual supermarket brand of sunscreen to one that is ‘reef safe’ or ‘reef friendly’.

We’ve been using and have just started stocking SunButter Reef Safe Sunscreen, created by an awesome duo here in Victoria, Aus to combat the effects of nasty chemicals in other sunscreens.

It can be hard to keep track of all the chemicals in sunscreen that you’re trying to avoid and thanks to ‘greenwashing’ in the media, the term ‘reef safe’ isn’t regulated. Meaning: you may not always be able to trust a product advertising this on the label. The good news is that SunButter is 100% transparent with everything that goes into each and every tin of their sunscreen. 

SunButter is made with certified sustainable ingredients, is plant based, vegan, plastic free and also comes in reusable and recyclable tins, which we’re super jazzed about!

Their sunscreen is also formulated to contain non-nanoparticle zinc oxide, which provides broad-spectrum protection for your skin against UV rays and doesn’t lead to coral bleaching. SunButter doesn’t use oxybenzone, octinoxate, or any other nasty chemicals that could affect marine life.

Even better: their simple blend of natural ingredients restores and nurtures your skin and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, weathered skin and children.

You can find more about them here, or shop them on our site here.

Some other things we can all do to ensure we're not harming our incredible reefs is by using less sunscreen! Go old school and wear clothing or a rashie and save the sunscreen for your face instead. 

It's also important to note that you should wait 10-15 minutes before swimming when you've applied your sunscreen to save it coming off your skin and into straight the water. Even if you're using a reef safe sunscreen, it will save you from having to reapply so quickly!

Get educated and spread your findings. Word of mouth is as important as ever in this modern day of over-saturation of content. Sharing your experiences and opinions with someone might be the push they need to make some eco changes in their lives. 

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