Why Reef Safe Sunscreen?

Every year the amount of people and businesses talking about reef safe sunscreens increases. This year one well known high street chain announced that they will only be selling reef safe sunscreens moving forward. (Its worth mentioning that we have only ever sold Reef Safe sunscreens and that goes down to the very core of our ethics.) But what does this really mean and how does it impact you? And if you aren’t going into the sea near a coral reef why should you bother?

Why Should I Care About the Oceans?

You mean apart from the fact that they are the most beautiful and magical place on earth? If you have ever tried scuba diving and spent some time under the water surface you will know how incredible it is to watch these watery cities with all the inhabitants going about their daily business. But the oceans do way more for us than just provide entertainment and relaxation.

Earth should really be called an ocean planet. As you know our beloved home is made up of 70% water. While life on land exists on this thin layer that begins a few feet below the surface of the soil and extends up into the tops of the trees. In the oceans, life is found all the way from the surface to the very bottom of the deepest part at nearly seven-and-a-half miles down. Understandably because of this, the oceans contain 99 percent of the living space on the planet.

Did you know that without a healthy balanced ocean that there would be no life on this planet?

The oceans provide over 50% of the oxygen we breath on a day to day basis. This process is done by Phytoplankton, tiny single celled organisms. They contain chlorophyll which absorbs sunlight turning it into energy (similar to plants), and the by product is oxygen. In addition during this process they also consume carbon dioxide, helping to regulate our climate.

Its easy to see that without a healthy ocean life on this planet would cease to exist, especially with our growing population that is predicted to hit 8 Billion people in November this year (2022). Within this delicate eco system everything needs to be balanced.

Now lets look at reefs, coral reefs make up less than 1% of the ocean floor, but around 25% of all marine life is dependent on coral reefs.

Coral reefs are under threat in many ways. Some of these include climate change, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, pollution, destructive fishing practices, coral mining, irresponsible tourism, toxic chemicals and much more. In studies it has been found that nearly 90% of coral reefs in the Caribbean have disappeared since the 1980s.

So in summary all life on earth depends on the oceans. So it is vital that we all play a part in ensuring that the oceans and coral reefs stay healthy.

What is Reef Safe Sunscreen? 

There are two types of sunscreens available on the market. Chemical sunscreen and Mineral or Physical sunscreen. A chemical sunscreen works by absorbing UV rays while a mineral or physical works by reflecting UV rays.

Chemical sunscreens include a number of ingredients (oxybenzone being the most well know) that have a toxic effect on coral reefs in bleaching the coral. Coral bleaching is when adult corals expel the algae that lives in their tissues and causes the coral to go completely white. This coral is not dead, it can survive this, however it more susceptible to stress and mortality. In juvenile coral the effect is much more fatal; the oxybenzone acts as a fatal endocrine disruptor and causes the baby coral to encase itself in its own skeleton and die.

There have been many studies carried out in the US and around the world on the effect of chemical sunscreens on coral reefs.

It is found that within 14 days of coral being exposed to the main ingredient in chemical sunscreen (oxybenzone) the coral has completely bleached.

Because of this many countries round the world have banned the use of chemical sunscreens. These countries include Mexico, USA (Hawaii, Key West, US Virgin Islands), Bonaire, Aruba and Palau. Many other countries strongly recommend the use of reef friendly sunscreen but I believe its only a matter of time until they too ban chemical sunscreens.



I live in the UK, why should I care about reef friendly sunscreens? 

While you are correct in your thinking that we don’t have any coral reefs round the UK.

It is estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen washes into the ocean every year. And even if you aren’t swimming on a beach, you might end up washing off sunscreen in a shower and that water might make its way to the oceans. One tiny drop of oxybenzone in the equivalent of a six and a half Olympic sized swimming pool of water is enough to be toxic to coral reefs. Once oxybenzone has entered the oceans it is near impossible to filter it out, and while all the oceans have different names they are all connected and due to gulf streams particles can move between one ocean and another.

So is it worth the risk?


The easiest way to tell whether a sunscreen is reef safe or not is to look at the ingredients.

A chemical sunscreen will contains the ingredients Ozybenzone, oxinoxate, octisalate or avobenzone. While a physical or mineral sunscreen will contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

We have created this little info graphic to help you easily spot a chemical sunscreen when you are on the go. Feel free to download this image or take a screenshot for future reference.


All the sunscreens sold on GreenerBeauty.com are reef safe and always will be. 

In addition to this we donate 10% of all sunscreen profits to the Reef Restoration Project, helping to restore coral reefs in Australia and round the world.

I hope that’s been helpful and informative, if you have any questions do not hesitate to get in contact by commenting below or sending us an email.


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Pin it Why Reef Safe Sunscreen
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