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Oxybenzone!!? Why is it so dangerous for you and the Ocean? Find out which Sunscreens protect you without the risk!

kelly lauren playing on the beach


Oxybenzone!!? Why is it so dangerous for you and the Ocean?  Find out which  Sunscreens protect you without the risk!

There’s nothing quite like being kissed by the sun on a warm summer’s day. The feeling you get when you slip on your swimsuit, and head to the salty shoreline of the ocean is unforgettable. What shouldn’t be forgotten, is your health. Particularly your skin’s health. Yep, today we’re talking about Sunscreen and the safest sunscreen brands to match your Mermaid lifestyle!

And, since we not only want to protect our own skin with good-for-you products, we’re also listing our 5 fav sunscreens that protect our oceans as well! Win-win for you and the environment.

The ocean, the place we love to swim, surf, and snorkel in? Yea, we’ve got to do our part to protect it too! There’s a whole ecosystem that thrives below the surface, and what we bring into the water can greatly affect its livelihood!

What is oxybenzone?

Oxybenzone, is one of the most common chemical filters found in commercial chemical sunscreens. It forms colourless crystals that are readily soluble, and provides broad-spectrum UV coverage. Its primary function is to absorb UV light. Not only is it found in sunscreens but it can be found in a variety of personal care products such as nail polish, lotions, and lipstick. 

What does oxybenzone do to the ocean?

sevahna making friends in the ocean

In an article for ABC Australia, Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, discussed the negative effects of oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreens, on our coral reefs. He mentions four key ways that this chemical is destructive to baby coral.  

  1. Causes coral bleaching to occur “at lower temperatures than normal.” 
  2. The DNA of coral can be damaged, which can disrupt reproduction processes and cause new coral to be unhealthy 
  3. It disrupts coral’s endocrine makeup, or hormones which means “the juvenile coral produce too much calcium carbonate. They end up totally encasing themselves inside their own skeleton. Inevitably, this leads to their death.”
  4.  The juveniles become deformed: “they stop swimming, change shape, and their mouths grow five times larger.”

According to TIME,

“Currently, somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enters coral reef areas around the world each year, according to the U.S. National Park Service. That’s a lot of sunscreen considering how little it takes to cause toxic effects. According to the new research, toxicity occurs at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion. That’s the equivalent of a drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool, according to study author Omri Bronstein, a researcher at Tel Aviv University,” wrote reporter Justin Worland.

How can we combat the detrimental effects of chemicals in the ocean? Be careful and mindful of what you bring in the ocean. Avoiding oxybenzone can help the ocean and save our coral reefs!

Does Oxybenzone harm us?

Top 10 foods for healthy glowing skin!

Being aware of what you put on your body is highly important.

According to the Environmental Working Group, there are several suspected dangers associated with Oxybenzone. Despite its sun protective abilities, it has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity. As a photocarcinogen, it has demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells; for this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of Melanoma cases with sunscreen users. Some studies have shown it to behave similarly to the hormone estrogen, suggesting that it may cause breast cancer. It has also been linked to contact eczema and allergies.

Please read the labels of your products carefully to determine whether this harmful chemical is your everyday products! You might be surprised!

Below is a list of our fav oxybenzone-free sunscreens to keep yourself sun-protected and the ocean protected as well!

Our top Five Oxybenzone-free sunscreens:

1.Raw Elements –  For five years in a row, this sunscreen has received a #1 rating from the Environmental Working Group

sunscreen which protects our oceans!

2. Badger Sunscreens – Their organic and natural sunscreens do not contain any oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, avobenzone, or added Vitamin A. Their products, according to their website “only use pharmaceutical-grade zinc oxide as the active ingredient and we do not add Vitamin A to our sunscreens.” Badger offers sunscreens for all activities, such as sport, active and daily types.

sunscreen which protects our oceans!


3. Alba Botanica –  They have a specific section of sunscreens that are categorized under ‘reef safety’ and are free of oxybenzone! With face sunscreens, sensitive, refreshing and sport sunscreens, there’s something for everyone.

sunscreen which protects our oceans!


4. Surface – Their Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is free of gluten too. You can also request for free product samples on their website.

sunscreen which protects our oceans!


5. Sunbum – Some of their products contain oxybenzone, but check out their Signature line – it’s oxybenzoene-free. It’s also fragrance-free too, so if you have sensitive skin, this could be the screen for you! Some of their other sunscreens contain oxybrenzoeyne but their website says they “contain small amounts of oxybenzone well below the amounts recommended by the FDA.” 

Do you use any other oxybenzone free sunscreens? Let us know in the comments below!

By Zennor Mermaid, Michaela Garretson


Michaela is an aspiring journalist and word traveller from Florida. She loves to be outdoors, trying new things, taking pictures, and is filled with wanderlust and an appetite for adventure.

Michaela Garretson

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