Reef Safe Sunscreen explained by WiseOceans (a leading marine conservation company)

Coral reefs are found in around 100 countries and are extremely important habitats for a wide variety of creatures. Although they cover less than 0.1% of the world’s surface, they are home to approximately 25% of all marine life on the planet, more than any other marine ecosystem, and are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems across the globe. As well as providing a safe place for juvenile species to grow and thrive, reefs are also important contributors for local economies, offer protection to coastlines from bad weather and absorb a proportion of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide and heat.

In the last 30 years, half of the coral reefs in the world have been lost due to a combination of threats, such as overfishing, climate change, pollution and outbreaks of predatory species. Unfortunately, it is estimated that at least 10% of reefs are currently under threat. However, there are less evident, more silent threats to reefs. It has recently been discovered that chemicals in sunscreen may be contributing to the rapid destruction of reefs around the world. It has been estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 metric tonnes of sunscreen gets washed into the oceans every year. Even more is added through waste water drainage.

There are four ingredients commonly found in sunscreen which cause coral bleaching: Oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor that can alter the way that organisms grow. With regards to coral, Oxybenzone is toxic to colonies, and can damage DNA, deform cells, disrupt the hormones of coral recruits (young corals), causing them to encase themselves in their own skeletons, and potentially lead to death. Even tiny amounts of oxybenzone (around as much as 1 drop in 6.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools) can affect corals.

Soleil Toujours sunscreen does not contain any of the afore mentioned chemicals. Going for a swim in the ocean after applying this to protect your body from the sun’s rays will not cause adverse effects to the delicate coral reef ecosystem. Soleil Toujours sunscreen can therefore be termed ‘reef safe’.

As ambassadors for the ocean, WiseOceans do their best to always use and promote environmentally-friendly and sustainable products. With outreach and educational work we act as role models to others and help show them the way to a healthy ocean. By using a ‘reef safe’ sunscreen such as Soleil Toujours, we can all reduce our impact on the fragile coral reefs whilst snorkelling and diving. Please check out WiseOceans website to learn more about their movement.


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