Whether you’re a bona fide skin care expert or you’re new to the world of skin health, there’s one essential skin care tip we all know about: wear sunscreen. Too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer on top of premature aging, neither of which are on anyone’s bucket list.
But did you know your sunscreens could be harming the oceans and, in turn, the planet? Research is mounting about the dangers of traditional sunscreens, and the movement toward reef-safe products is growing. That’s why we’re honoring reef-safe products this month and we’re kicking it off with an education in reef-safe products and why they matter.
What Are Reef-Safe Skin Care Products?
There are different strategies and ingredients that sun care manufacturers use to protect your skin. Most mass-produced sunscreens do this with a combination of chemicals. The problem is that two of these common chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been found to harm coral when they get into the oceans.
Because of this, the term “reef-safe” usually refers to products that don’t contain those two chemicals because they’re not damaging the coral that make up coral reefs. It’s important to note, though, that “reef-safe” isn’t an official term, nor is it regulated by any organization in the US. For that reason, it’s important to check your products’ labels to see if they truly are free from oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Why Are Reef-Safe Products So Important?
If you’ve ever seen an ocean-focused nature documentary, you probably know that there’s a lot of coral in our oceans. So why are coral-damaging chemicals such a big deal?
Coral actually has a crucial job to do. They’re critical in providing an ecosystem and a habitat for marine life for one, with each coral reef serving as a home to potentially thousands of species. Our planet’s ecosystems involve delicate balances of their species, with each species having its own contributions, so if a drop in coral leads to problems with other species, it will have a domino effect we may not even be able to predict.
Coral reefs also provide direct protection to humans. They reduce the power of waves that are coming toward populated coasts, minimizing a variety of natural disasters.
The problem with oxybenzone and octinoxate is that they lead to something called coral bleaching, in which the coral turns white. When coral is affected by bleaching, it’s still alive but it’s under severe strain, so it’s more prone to illness and ultimately death. Because of this, the state of Hawaii and the city of Key West, FL have already passed laws banning sunscreens that contain those ingredients.
Top Reef-Safe Products to Make Your Skin Care Routine Ocean-Friendly
If you want to protect your skin and your planet at the same time, look no further. Try these effective reef-safe sunscreens, each with its own specialization.
PCA Skin Active Protection Body Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Sunscreen is important for your face as well as your body, but in some cases, it’s best to use different products for these two areas. When it comes to sun protection for your body, PCA Skin Active Protection is an economical and reef-safe choice. It’s built to stand up against the sun whether you’re working out, swimming, surfing, or enjoying any other “fun in the sun” activities.
EltaMD UV Active Sunscreen Broad Spectrum 50+
While SPF 30 is highly effective, people who are very fair-skinned or otherwise prone to sun damage may want to step up their protection. That’s where EltaMD’s UV Active Sunscreen Broad Spectrum 50+ comes in. This product’s particularly high SPF gives you a powerful shield, and while it’s strong enough to withstand sweat and water, it’s also gentle enough for your face as well as your body.
Dermalogica Skinperfect Primer SPF 30
Sunscreen isn’t only necessary for the days you spend hanging by the pool. It should be a part of your everyday routine. Fortunately, you don’t need to add a whole new step to your makeup routine if you opt for the Dermalogica Skinperfect Primer SPF 30. This product is built to prime your skin for a smooth and seamless makeup application, but it’s also an effective sunscreen so you’re getting two essentials in one product.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Dermo Kids Sunscreen
It’s important to realize that issues like skin cancer and premature aging come from accumulated sun exposure over time. In other words, even sun exposure in childhood increases the risk for future sun-related problems. If you have little ones, now is the time to start protecting them, and La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios 60 Dermo Kids Sunscreen lets you do that without harming coral reefs.
Making Small Changes with Reef-Safe Skin Care Products
Our planet is facing struggles from so many angles, from carbon emissions to coral damage, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. But making small changes like switching to reef-safe skin care products can make a powerful difference as we continue to spread the message and make these changes more common. The products above will move you one more step in the right direction without compromising your skin’s health.