Sunscreen or no sunscreen? Sounds wrong to even think of not wearing sunscreen, but there are reasons not to. If you’ve been to a popular diving location recently, you’re already aware of the ban on sunscreen if you’ll be diving or snorkeling in coral reef areas. Why the ban when being on the water exposes you to the most rays from the sun? It’s the fact that recent research into the effect of a major ingredient in sunscreen on coral has shown that as little as the amount of one application of sunscreen containing oxybenzone, is enough to kill coral!* [Ref: Huffington Post]
One strategy to get around this is to wear sun protective clothing. This is a great idea for all sun sports but even the best clothing can’t protect every exposed bit of skin. Thankfully there are products that are approved for use while diving that don't contain the toxic chemical. Yes they are more expensive and aren’t quite as easy to apply, but they work as well or better than many of the leading brands containing oxybenzone. It's also good to keep in mind what harm those products might be inflicting on you, the wearer. If they are deadly to coral, how good can they be for you?
The best advice? Cover up as much skin as possible to reduce excess sun exposure, then apply one of the environmentally friendly products that won't damage coral and won't damage YOU as well. Have a look at EWG's list of safe sunscreens and our favourite natural sunscreens from Badger here.