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Before You Head South This Winter, Make Sure You Don’t Kill Coral Reef With Your Sunscreen

If you’re going south this year, something to think about is your sunscreen. The ingredient Oxybenzone is a very common chemical found in many products, even some natural brands. It is so common that it is found in 97% of Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is easily absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and it is persistent and accumulates, meaning it doesn’t degrade and will pollute the body as well as animals and water systems. It has the potential to interfere with hormones which can lead to a multitude of health problems.

It is also a huge water pollutant and the main source of human-caused reef damage because it bleaches algae, rendering the area lifeless. If you go to a protected reef area, your sunscreen will be confiscated and you will have to buy a safe formula.

You will find this ingredient listed on the bottle usually under ‘active ingredients’. My advice for buying sunscreen is getting a physical formula, one that deflects the rays off of your skin. Ingredients such as zinc and titanium dioxide do a great job at this. I also think it’s a good idea to stay in the shade and wear big hats and airy long-sleeved clothing (like tunics or sexy Hugh Grant-style shirts for men).

Share your favourite physical sunscreens in the comments.