Is your sunscreen a coral reef killer?

We tend to think about sunscreens as protection for our bodies, one that guards us against the harmful UV rays. But did you know that the household sunscreen brands contain toxic chemicals that kill the coral reef?

When we think about coral reefs, the first thing that comes to mind is a rainbow-like sight when snorkelling. Colourful fish getting lost in the maze, subtle sun rays peeking through the surface above you, light movement of the algae. What we often do not realise is that they are not just a pretty sight to be enjoyed by the underwater “tourists”, but also a crucial part of the marine ecosystem. In the ocean’s ecosystem, coral reefs are a storehouse for biological wealth, often endearingly called the “heart of the ocean”. They are the key to supporting an overwhelming variety of plants and animals that would not be able to breed or survive without it. The same goes for us human being — many people rely on the sea as food supply or live off tourism. Coral reefs’ plants are also widely used as medicinal remedies.

As of 2019, 27% of the world’s coral reef has already been lost. This only increases the urgency to take individual, conscious and environmentally responsible steps. Many commonly used sunscreens damage coral — bleaching it, damaging DNA, deforming young coral and even killing it completely due to the toxic ingredients they contain. Diving into the water with sunscreen on is a bad idea because its chemicals stay afloat, accumulate and ultimately form toxic tissues. What ingredients are most toxic? Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, Nano-Titanium Dioxide, Nano-Zinc Oxide are just a few of the most harmful to the coral reef and marine life.

How can you protect yourself and the marine environment? Using sunscreen and protecting the coral reef are not mutually incompatible. Firstly, try to stay in the shade between 10 AM and 2 PM, as this is the time when the harmful UV rays are at full force. Secondly, choose sun protection with coral protection in mind and avoid the above ingredients. There is also a pressing need to use bottles from recycled materials and to ensure that the bottle reaches the recycling centre. Whether you decide to re-use it as a pencil case or to discard the bottle in a correct recycling box carefully, make sure that you do not dump the packaging after only one use.

For great quality products that are an environmentally friendly consumer choice, discover the IONIQ Skincare series. It has recyclable containers, it’s biodegradable and comprises coral reef-safe ingredients. Remember that our individual choices all contribute to the safety of the environment. Small steps, such as choosing a sunscreen that does not kill the coral reef, are a crucial way to contribute to a healthy ecosystem. If you want to delve deeper into this topic, feel free to download our IONIQ Skincare app!