Is Your Sunscreen Harming Our Coral Reefs?

Is Your Sunscreen Harming Our Coral Reefs?

It’s summertime, so you must be hitting up the beach and lathering yourselves in sunscreen.

The question is, what is inside of these sunscreens and why have some been banned? 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up on our oceans yearly, so it is best that we consume these with caution.

The US state of Hawaii will ban the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing two key ingredients, oxybenzone and octinoxate by 2021.  The island country of Palau became the first country to impose a nationwide ban on such ingredients, along with 8 other chemicals-  just to be sure.

These ingredients,  found in many sunscreens,  make corals bleach at lower temperatures and reduce their resilience to climate change.  Coral bleaching is a visible sign of stress on this delicate marine ecosystem. Increasing water temperatures and ocean acidification – as a result of climate change – are also key contributors to coral bleaching worldwide.

Feat not. Coral bleaching does not necessarily mean that they are dead but they can die from prolonged stress: therefore, action can and needs to be taken.

In Egypt, we have been blessed with coral reefs in the Red Sea.  Snorkelling, scuba diving and glass bottom boats have unveiled these decadently, colourful homes to a lot of marine life.  Locals and tourists alike come from far and wide to witness this form of majestic beauty.  Hurghada, Dahab, Marsa Alam are all places for us to see these – responsibly. Thankfully, the Northern Red Sea coral reefs have been incredibly resilient to increasing water temperatures and ocean acidification thus far, but this does not mean that preventative measures cannot be taken in order to ensure their conservation.

Here are few things to remember when looking for reef safe options, rather than opting for the typical chemical sunscreens:

-The absence of oxybenzone and octinoxate

-Opt for mineral-based sunscreens with active ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  These minerals act as UVA and UVB blockers but are not linked to coral bleaching.

-Ensure that these are non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dixoide, as nano particles can penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream, which is not good news for our health and skin – our largest organ.

-‘Reef safe’ labels on sunscreens.  Double check the ingredients just to be sure.

-Even if you prefer pools, sticking to ‘reef safe’ sunscreen will be healthier for you and our waterways.  We are never sure how or where the water from our showers or pools end up.

Check out Egypt’s very own Black Lotus‘ mineral sunscreen, containing natural ingredients, such as beeswax, cocoa butter and shea butter, and zinc oxide.



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