Is your sunscreen coral safe?

Thursday, 6 June 2013  |  Sarah

Is your sunscreen coral safe?

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs.  They also protect coasts from strong currents and keep carbon dioxide in the ocean in balance. Unfortunately, like the rainforests, coral reefs are dying. One way we can help is to use environmentally-friendly sunscreen when snorkeling, swimming and diving.

Coral is a living organism that needs algae for food. Research now shows that certain ingredients in regular sun tan lotions activate viruses inside algae. When these viruses replicate, they kill off the algae. Without the algae, the coral dies. As a result claims have been made that about 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunblock from swimmers wash-off into the world’s oceans annually, and that up to 10% of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching.
Four main ingredients that harm coral cited in a recent study are: butylparaben, ethylhexylmethoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and are touted to cause complete coral bleaching at very low concentrations. Some experts also recommend avoiding sun tan lotion with anything beginning with "oxy" or "hexa.” 

Choosing a coral safe sunscreen

Look for ingredients that say biodegradable, organic or natural or that assert that they are coral safe, reef safe, eco safe or environmentally friendly. You still need to double check the actual ingredient list though,so look for active ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and be sure to avoid sunblocks with octylmethoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3, parabens or octocrylene. 

If you are still not sure where to find these products, then we recommend Lovea Sun Care which is coral safe and contains natural mineral sun blocks combined with certified organic, bio-degradable plant extracts. It does not contain any chemicals which can damage coral reefs and is dermatologically tested. The Lovea Kids SPF50 is also fragrance free if you have sensitive skin.