If you’re taking in part in one of our group tours, sunscreen will be an important travel essential when you’re in Asia. It becomes a staple to your everyday routine, especially if you don’t want to end up with sunburn!
But have you ever thought about what’s in your sunscreen? What it’s made from? Well, according to a study in 2015, over 8,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the world’s coral reefs each year! Shocking right? It’s hard to believe that sunscreen could have such a detrimental effect on our reef ecosystems.
But what is it that makes suncream so deadly?
Oybenzone and octinoxate. These two chemicals in particular cause coral bleaching – turning the coral white and making it extremely vulnerable to disease and death. Although these are the main culprits, there are still many other ingredients such as fragrances, UV-blocking chemicals and preservatives that can also have deadly consequences for coral. However, with that being said, there are lots of sunscreens now on the market that are both eco-friendly and kind to our reef ecosystems.
If you’ve planned a trip to South East Asia, Indonesia or India with us it’s worth being mindful about the type of sunscreen you’re going to pack. Some of the activities included in our tours are water-based, so, therefore, there will be times where you’ll be immersing yourself in the ocean’s waters and getting up close with the underwater world.
Why are coral reefs important?
Coral reefs are known as the oldest living structures in the world and are extremely important to bio-marine existence.
They help support more than 25% of all marine life, specifically animals that are higher up the food chain and rely on coral to feed. But, it’s not just marine life that relies on coral, humans do too! Coral reefs are crucial for tourism industries such as scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing. They also provide employment and money for lots of businesses worldwide.
Realistically if all coral was to disappear, it would have devastating consequences for both marine life and humans! So, we must look after our oceans’ ecosystems.
What is “Reef-safe” sunscreen?
Most sunscreens aren’t tried and tested, or strictly regulated by the government. So if you’re shopping for ‘reef-safe’ sunscreen and come across a product that brands themselves ‘reef-safe’, just remember, this might not be strictly true.
However, there are ways to figure out whether a sunscreen is ‘reef-safe’. Below is a list of things to avoid and take into consideration next time you’re shopping for sunscreen.
1. Avoid parabens:
Parabens can be found in a variety of sunscreens. Butylparaben, in particular, causes coral bleaching and pose some health risks. Ideally, you should be looking for sunscreens that read “paraben-free” on their packaging.
2. Avoid oxybenzone or octinoxate:
Research suggests that oxybenzone and octinoxate are the more harmful chemicals for our reef ecosystems. So try to avoid these ingredients at all costs.
3. Opt for a rub-on suncream:
Try and opt for a rub-on lotion rather than a spray. The problem with spray lotions is that they are easily absorbed into the sand, which is then carried out into the ocean and as a result leads to more damage.
4. Look for sunscreen that is water-resistant
Water-resistant sunscreens tend to stay on for longer and are less likely to wash off when you’re swimming in the ocean. Make sure you follow the instructions, apply accordingly and wait the desired amount of time before getting into the water.
5. Wear UPF clothing
One of the best ways to protect yourself and the environment is to wear UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing. By covering yourself up, this means that you won’t have to apply as much sunscreen.
To make it easier, we’ve listed the best rated ‘reef-safe’ sunscreens that are currently on the market;
- Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
- Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian SPF 50 Natural Zinc Sunscreen
- All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
- Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen
- Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
- Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
- Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
- Mama Kuleana Waterproof SPF 30 Reef-safe Sunscreen
- Manda Organic SPF 50 Sun Paste
- Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
Why you should invest in ‘Reef-safe’ sunscreen
1. It’s an effective alternative and ensures marine life who feed on coral have a healthy food source.
2. You can get your hands on a bottle for as little as £10 – a great price tag with even better benefits! What’s not to love?
3. Help reduce the amount of dying coral.
4. Support the people who rely on coral reefs for tourism and money.
5. Protect the home of thousands of different marine species.
So, next time you’re packing for one of our group tours, be mindful and make that all-important change to reef-safe sunscreen!
Let’s make help make the world a better place!