Best 5 Coral Reef-safe Sunscreens for Both Your Skin and the Environment

reef-safe sunscreen

With global warming and industrial wastes accelerating the coral bleaching and damaging marine ecosystem, it’s not surprising to see both responsible consumers and private sectors trying to make changes to their lifestyle/ business choice for the best of the environment. Starting with a small step, environmentalists and beach lovers have been campaigning for the ban on sunscreens with chemicals that are harmful for coral reefs, while promoting “mineral” or “physical” sunscreen options that are reef-safe.

(Image: Hiroko Yoshii/Unsplash)

Thankfully, the arduous campaigning has borne fruits. Reef-safe sunscreens have become available in drugstores nationwide and e-commerce platforms. The demands for this reef-friendly sun protection reflect just how people are environmentally conscious enough to make the responsible choice. On the side of the policy-maker, the Thai Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has announced earlier this week a ban on four sunscreen ingredients that have proven to damage coral reefs. This means that sunscreens containing the following four chemical ingredients will not be allowed in national parks across Thailand: 

  • Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3)
  • Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate)
  • 4-Methylbenylid Camphor (4MBC)
  • Butylparaben

(Image: Francesco Ungaro/Unsplash)

As all of the four ingredients are common in sunscreens in the market, and not many consumers are keen on reading through the lengthy ingredient list to check for their presence, the easiest way second to checking for the “reef-safe” label, however, is to go for a physical, or mineral sunscreen. For those unfamiliar with the terms, chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays, but physical sunscreens, usually comprising mineral compounds like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, block or deflect and scatter the damaging rays.

While chemical sunscreens are more favoured due to their lightweight nature compared to mineral sunscreens’ heavier texture that leaves undesirable white cast, the latter has been loved by those with sensitive skin that can be easily irritated by harsh chemicals, and championed by environmentalists as a better option for coral reefs and marine lives. In addition, latest technologies in skincare have enabled several brands to formulate mineral sunscreens with much lighter texture and little to no white cast.


Most mineral sunscreens come with SPF30 or below as having a higher SPF level can leave a white cast on the skin. You can reapply during the day using SPF face mists or SPF mineral setting powder. Also, mineral sunscreens work by sitting on your skin to block the UV rays and they cannot be cleansed thoroughly with just normal cleansers. For those prone to blemishes, double cleansing with makeup removing oils or balms as the first step followed by your normal cleanser, is recommended.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best reef-safe mineral sunscreens to choose from.

(Hero and featured image: Aiony Haust/Unsplash)

The post Best 5 Coral Reef-safe Sunscreens for Both Your Skin and the Environment appeared first on Prestige Online – Thailand.


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