Health & Fitness

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Responsible product selection can make a big difference to the health of our wildlife

Did you know that your sunscreen could be harming the coral reef?

Studies have shown that oxybenzone (and octinoxate) compounds found in many commercial brands of sunscreen are toxic to coral, cause coral bleaching and stunt the growth of young coral. Other studies have also shown oxybenzone to be an endocrine disruptor in shrimps and clams. Research is recent and more is needed, however it’s proposed that in some places sunscreen could account for up to 10% of the destruction seen on the coral reefs.

Oxybenzone is also absorbed into your skin when you apply regular sunscreen. It acts as an endocrine disruptor and can cause allergies and skin sensitivity.

What can you do?

You still need to protect your skin from the sun while at the beach and in the sea.

Use reef-safe sunscreen

You can look for sunscreens that are reef-safe (these should not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate), so check the label to be sure! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a database you can easily search through to find sunscreens without oxybenzone:

Cover up

Long-sleeved sun-protection clothing is a great option for the beach and while swimming. It’s an excellent idea for kids who often hate having sunscreen applied. Look for UPF 50. UPF is the UV Protection Factor measuring for clothing and hats. You won’t see me on the beach without my UPF 50 hat!

Stay in the shade

Take a beach umbrella or sit in the shade of a palm tree during the hottest hours.

Keep the cenotes clean

Here in the Riviera Maya we also need to be aware of protecting the water in cenotes too, as they have their own delicate ecosystems and water flows into the ocean from the cenote underground river system.


Sara Jones

Spa, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert, Spa Consultant and Founder of Spa & Wellness MexiCaribe magazine

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