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The Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens to Protect Your Skin & the Environment


If you’re planning a trip to a place with water and sun, of course you want to pack sunblock to protect your skin. But, some sunscreens contain chemicals that can be harmful to the delicate ecosystem of the ocean. So, if you want to protect your skin, and the environment, it’s important to look for products that contain certain ingredients. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of the best reef-safe and reef-friendly sunscreens that you can feel confident wearing on your next vacation. Let’s break down what you should look for and get shopping

What does “Reef-safe” or “Reef-friendly” Sunscreen Mean?

Sunscreens that are called “reef-safe” or “reef-friendly” typically do not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, two common UV-blocking chemicals which have been shown to cause damage to coral reefs, and the state of Hawaii has even banned the sale of sunscreens containing these ingredients.¬†

However, these terms are not regulated or managed by any organizations, so you can’t always trust products that say they’re “safe.” Reports have shown that additional chemicals, like octocrylene, homosalate, avobenzone and oxybenzone, may also contain damaging effects, so read your labels. None of the picks below contain any of these ingredients.

What Else to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, according to the American Association of Dermatology, so it’s important to reduce your risks and look for sunscreen with an SPF 15 (at least). Additionally, consider the water-resistance of your sunblock. A sunscreen¬† that stays on your skin longer is less likely to wash off when you’re swimming.

So, keep on scrolling for the best reef-safe and reef-friendly sunscreens that will have a positive impact this Earth Day and beyond. Protect your skin (and the ocean, too), and enjoy your time in the water.

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