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Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients That Harm Coral Reefs and YOU

When it comes to protecting our skin from cancer, sunscreen brands have no problem boasting about of their product's innovative and leading features that are the best for cancer prevention!  While skin-cancer prevention is very important and necessary, there is a closeted darkness within the sunscreen industry.

Are you ready to never look at sunscreen the same way again? Okay great because here we go.


Generic sunscreen brands use chemical-based ingredients.  Once again, synthetic chemicals have ruined it for all of us.  These active chemicals act as UV ray absorber are protect us from harmful sun rays. 

Sounds simple enough... okay...

But, while seemingly harmless that doesn't seem to be the case.  Washed off chemicals in bodies of water can cause irreversible habitat destruction to marine ecosystems.



Lingering chemicals can coat and latch onto coral reefs structures leading to damaged coral reproductive health and coral bleaching.   

Some research has even argued that reef-harmful sunscreen chemicals are more likely culpable for coral bleaching than climate change.

You're probably thinking that it can't be true. 

You're saying, "no Emily, I wait 40 minutes after application before I enter the water so there's no way that I'm contributing to the problem." 


This is what's wrong with supporting (purchasing) and using harmful sunscreen ingredients:

1. It takes a only few people with chemically active sunscreen to disrupt a marine ecosystem.  Coral reefs take YEARS to reproduce and people make mistakes... I get it we want to get in the water because the water is freaking fun. 

2. These chemicals are BAD for you.  Studies have found that certain sunscreen chemicals can interfere with hormone balance, pose threats of organ toxicity and cancer.  No duh organ toxicity... sunscreen is directly applied to our largest organ - OUR SKIN.

I know... it's a lot to take in.  Here's the main message:

Chemical-based active ingredients in sunscreen: Absorb sun rays by acting as a chemically synthetic UV suction layer on your skin. This can coat coral reefs and warm them causing irreversible bleaching.
Mineral-based active ingredients in sunscreen: Mirrors/reflects sun rays to protect your skin using biodegradable, usually white, natural minerals, that use your applied skin-areas as albedo surfaces (reflects the harmful sunrays back at the sun - ya! take that skin cancer!).


What specific ingredients do we avoid?

Read your labels and avoid these chemicals.  Quick hint: if you can't pronounce it... it's probably not good for you.

Chemical-based active ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Benzophenone-1
  • Benzophenone-8
  • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor
  • 3-Benzylidene camphor
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene


The alternatives to these chemicals:

Reef-safe and human-safe mineral-based active ingredients:
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Titanium Dioxide

These natural ingredients are biodegradable and non-harmful.  Wow... just like that, natural ingredients saved the day.  We are organic and knowing what the f*** is in the products you're putting on your skin aka your largest organ.

Listen... what we really need is more conscious consumers.  Personally, I think it significantly changed my whole mindset to ask questions like: How do I pronounce this?  Is this good for me?  Isn't Formaldehyde what they use to preserve deceased? 

We have so much power in what we consumer.  Small steps that allow you to take control of YOUR impact and control over your health. 


How do you go back from that? 


Protect yourself, the Earth and continue to live life in the sun. <3

Sending love,



Check out my favourite organic sunscreen with ingredients I can pronounce here. 

Madre Luna - SUN NOT TODAY organic sunscreen






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