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What is “Reef-Safe”?

Reef-Safe Sunscreens are those that do not contain oxybenzone and oxtinoxate, two common UV-blocking chemicals. The ocean's vast ecosystem can be dramatically impacted by chemical sunscreens as they accumulate in the water. These chemicals can be absorbed by some of the marine life including fish, coral, seaweed, and other marine plants, causing damage and even death. Mineral-based sunscreens (like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) don't as the minerals sink to the bottom of water and are not absorbed.

What is the Difference Between a Chemical Sunscreen and a Physical / Mineral Sunscreen?

  • Chemical sunscreens allow UV light into the skin. Rather than sitting on the surface of the skin, the chemical ingredients sink into pores to react with UV rays there. The chemicals in the sunscreen (i.e., oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate) create a chemical reaction in which UV light is dissipated.
  • Mineral sunscreens (also called Physical sunscreens) contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, small particles that sit on the skin’s surface and physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin.
  • Of course all of our other sunscreens are recommended and safe for use (they just don’t meet the requirements to be chemical-free).
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