Safe for the Sun and Sea

Bans on sunscreens have become common in certain areas of the world in the name of protecting coral reefs.

Not all sunscreens are the same.

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Not all sunscreens are the same.

Madeeha Akhtar, Columnist

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Oxybenzone is one of the most common chemicals found in sunscreen. However, this seemingly helpful chemical has been found to be extremely toxic to both the environment. As a result, many Pacific islands such as Hawaii and Palau are banning sunscreen with the chemical, according to The Guardian

Oxybenzone seeps off your skin into the water, where coral absorbs it. This disrupts the corals’ reproduction and growth cycles, according to National Geographic. Even if you don’t swim after you put on sunscreen, you can still cause harm. The sunscreen can rub off in the sand, and that sand can get swept into the ocean by waves. It can also wash off in the shower, and many drainage systems empty into the sea.

To help combat this pollution, several brands have created sunscreens with ocean-safe formulas. Some examples include products made by SkinCeuticals and La Roche-Posay. Although these sunscreens tend to be more expensive, they are worth the cost of preserving our oceans.

Protect the wonders under the waters by wearing harmless sunscreens that do not include oxybenzone. Coral reefs are crucial to local ecosystems, providing habitats, shelters, and nutrients to many creatures in the ocean, according to Queensland Museum. The reefs are also important to the tourism industries of many countries,  so help keep them alive by being mindful of what you put on your skin and in our environment.