• Simon Daley


With summer fast approaching, many of us are already looking forward to spending days in the ocean and getting in some much-needed vitamin D.

Before you buy your sunscreen, we wanted to give you the lowdown on sunscreen ingredients and ocean health.

Recent studies have found that sunscreen chemicals in many popular products actually hurt corals.

The main chemical culprits are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which convert sunburn-causing UV rays into harmless heat on human skin.

But once these chemicals are in the water, they actually decrease corals’ defenses against bleaching, damaging their DNA and hurting their development. It’s almost as though sunscreen for humans has the opposite effect for corals!

This damage, along with harm from other stressors including ocean acidification, water pollution, rising sea temperatures, and coral disease, prevents corals from successfully reproducing and surviving in current marine environments.

Chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate also enter marine ecosystems through sewage treatment plant outflows.

Since they’re not designed to remove other pollutants, they are not usually removed by wastewater treatment systems.

A 2015 study showed that oxybenzone starts causing serious damage to corals at concentrations as low as the equivalent of one drop of water in six-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Choose mineral sunscreens, especially lotions containing non-nano zinc dioxide as the primary active ingredient.

Look for reef safe sunscreens which are becoming increasingly available

Avoid aerosol sunscreen. Much of what you spray leaves a residue on the sand which is then washed back into the ocean. Your lungs will be healthier too, as aerosol sunscreens are easily inhaled. #SWIMTHEWORLDFORGOOD

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