Working for Reef Safe Sun Protection for People and the Planet
In the long days of summer (as well as year-round), we want to enjoy the benefits of our time in the sun while protecting our skin from excess exposure. According to Dermveda expert dermatologist Raja Sivamani, MD MS AP, “Sun protection used to be about avoiding a sunburn. But, we have come a long way from then and have become more sophisticated with our science and our approach. Good sun protection means you reduce or eliminate overexposure to ultraviolet type A, ultraviolet type B, and high energy blue light.”
While sun protection is important, so is protecting our sensitive coral reefs; the delicate ecology of coral reefs can be affected by some of the chemicals in conventional sunscreens. Two of the ingredients that have been identified as being the most problematic are oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Kate Solomon is the founder and CEO of Babo Botanicals. She’s one of a group of skincare companies who are committed to making products that are healthy for both people and the planet. She says, ”Millions of people visit beaches each year and it has been proven that chemicals in sunscreens can destroy reefs, as well as be an endocrine disruptor in humans. I founded Babo Botanicals so people would have environmental and healthy choices.”
Kate is in good company. Goddess Garden Founder and CEO Nova Covington is another entrepreneur on a mission. “My daughter’s allergies to the chemicals in common skincare products inspired the start of our company. But these chemicals are also impacting coral reefs. A single drop of oxybenzone, a common chemical sunscreen, can kill the coral reefs in an area the size of 6.5 Olympic-sized pools. Because every bottle of natural mineral sunscreen used is one less bottle of chemical sunscreen in the environment, we focused on making clean, reef-safe options easily accessible to everyone.”
Advocacy for Reef Safe Sunscreens
Babo Botanicals, Goddess Garden, and other companies are taking a leadership role in this area. Their focus is to develop reef-safe sunscreen formulations by providing labeling and engaging in advocacy and education. These organizations are even working with legislative bodies to provide protection for reefs.
One of their meaningful initiatives is focused on the Hawaiian Islands and the effect swimmers have on the coral reefs there. On May 1, the Hawaii state legislature passed a bill to ban the sale of oxybenzone and octinoxate. This legislation is currently sitting on the desk of Governor David Ige. Nova Covington, Founder of Goddess Gardens, is collecting signatures on a Care2Petition to encourage the governor to sign the bill. Sign the petition here!
Ingredients to Avoid
So when it comes to choosing reef-safe options , just say no to oxybenzone and octinoxate. Some of the other chemicals to avoid include: avobenzone, avobenzine, ethylhexl, methoxycinnamate, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene.
What is reef and skin-safe?
Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are reef-safe mineral-based sunscreens. Choose non-nano, mineral-based options for body, face, and lips. Be an informed consumer and take good care of your skin.