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Reviving the Reef With Safe Sunscreen

Save the coral reef by using safe sunscreen“Summer summer summertime” the familiar melody from The Fresh Prince’s (see: Will Smith) and Dj Jazzy Jeff’s smash hit, Summertime, echoes through speakers on beaches everywhere.

It’s that time of year again where breezy, refreshing weather and longer days coax us to the shoreline. Families soak up the sunshine while reveling in the many activities the ocean has to offer. Whether embarking on a weekend getaway, or a full on summer vacation, pack a reef safe sunscreen to complement that itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.

Exploring the Coral Reef

Every year, thousands of vacationers snorkel the seas to get a firsthand view of the coral reef. This underwater ecosystem, often called the “rainforest of the sea,” is home to several aquatic species such as fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and sponges. Coral reefs are fragile and sensitive to water conditions.

According to coral reef researcher Clive Wilkinson, PhD, only 46% of the world’s reefs are in good health and 19% of coral reefs are already lost. It’s estimated in the next 10-20 years, another 17% will perish. Over half of the world’s coral reefs are in danger of being destroyed.

Coral Reefs harbor the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. We depend on healthy ecosystems to provide natural resources such as foods and drugs and protection from the effects of tropical storms on coastlines.

They also provide scientifically-testable records of climactic events and show us how humanity impacts the coral growth patterns. There are no fun summer family getaways and no healthy catches of the day without coral reefs.

Luckily, each person planning a summer at the sea can help save our precious reefs.

You can shield your skin from the sun by wearing UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing. Each garment is labeled with a number based on lab tests for the amount of UV radiation that penetrates the fabric. That’s not to say you don’t have to wear sunscreen.

If you’ve trained all winter to get into that swimsuit and are less interested in covering up, full body sunscreen is an essential summer skincare staple. It protects skin against uncomfortable sunburns, skin cancer, and the progression of aging skin.

The problem is many sunscreens include reef-harming chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. While the UV blockers make sunscreens easier to rub into skin and provide long lasting sun protection, taking a dip at the beach slathered in these sunscreens harm the reef.

Last summer, Hawaii banned the sale of sunscreens containing the chemicals citing they “increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress, even at temperatures below 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit; and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms.”

Popular summer destination Key West, Florida also took action against the sale of sunscreens with harmful chemicals. Each year, 4,000- 6,000 tons of sunscreen flow off our skin and onto reef dense tourist destinations around the world.

Enjoy your vacation knowing you made the right decision to protect your skin and our environment with these Reef Safe sunscreens available at


EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 Tinted 2fl oz.

La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin SPF 60 Dry Touch Sunscreen 1.7 fl oz.

La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids Gentle Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60 6.7 fl oz.


Obagi Nu-Derm Physical UV Block SPF 32 2fl oz.


Obagi Sun Shield MINERAL Broad Spectrum SPF 50 3fl oz.


Replenix Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream SPF 50+ 2fl oz


Replenix UltiMATTE Perfection 50+ Tinted 1.6fl oz

About the Author

Robin N.W. is a licensed facialist and skincare entrepreneur in Dallas, Texas.