Our Favorite Reef-Safe Sunscreens That Will Protect Your Skin and the Ocean
While oxybenzone and octinoxate are common sunscreen ingredients that protect skin from harmful UV rays, they’re also known to bleach and kill coral reefs. In fact, Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill banning SPF products that are formulated with these ingredients. Thankfully, brands are catching on and coming out with oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free sunscreens. For more information and reef-safe sunscreen recommendations, we spoke to Skincare.com consultant and dual board-certified pediatric dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Latanya Benjamin.
What to Know About the Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Ban
The bill Hawaii passed will prevent the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing two common sunscreen ingredients: oxybenzone and octinoxate. According to Dr. Benjamin, the idea behind the ban is to “prohibit sunscreens that contain chemicals that could contribute to bleaching of the coral reefs.” However, as of now, you can still jet off to Hawaii and purchase a sunscreen formulated with either ingredient, as the ban doesn’t take effect until January 2021.
The Difference Between Chemical and Physical Sunscreen
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a chemical sunscreen protects you by absorbing the sun’s rays and is formulated with one or more of many possible active ingredients, such as oxybenzone or octinoxate. Physical sunscreens on the other hand, provide protection by deflecting the sun’s rays and usually contain blockers titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as active ingredients.
The Best Sunscreens Without Oxybenzone and Octinoxate
It’s important to keep in mind that oxybenzone and octinoxate are FDA-approved ingredients in sunscreens. That said, if you’re looking for alternatives, find our favorite sunscreens formulated without either ahead.
If you’ve ever smoothed on sunscreen only to be left with a noticeable white cast, you’ll likely find yourself interested in this chemical-filter free sunscreen. The formula, which contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, has a transparent, weightless finish.
Having acne is no excuse to skip out on sunscreen. This option from Kiehl’s is suitable for acne-prone skin, provides a universal sheer tint and has good-for-you ingredients like vitamin E. It’s also lightweight, fast-absorbing and leaves a matte finish on the skin.
It’s difficult to formulate an oxybenzone-free sunscreen with such a high SPF, but La Roche-Posay has done it. This is a great option for sensitive or burn-prone skin. Plus, it doesn’t have a thick, greasy feel. It dries down quickly, works great under makeup and can protect your skin and the coral reefs at the same time.
Protecting the skin on your body is equally as important as protecting the skin on your face. The CeraVe daily body lotion sunscreen offers 100% mineral sun protection and hydrates the skin to minimize irritation. It’s suitable for all skin types, so one bottle will have the whole family covered on your next vacation.
This reef-safe, octinoxate-free, oil-free sunscreen has a velvety texture and matte-finish that works great as a primer and sun protectant. If you have yet to find a sunscreen that works great under makeup, give this option a go — it’s a game-changer.