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Why You Should Always Protect Your Skin With Reef Safe Sunscreen


Bathing suit? Check. Beach Read? Double check. Reef safe sunscreen? *crickets*

Don’t worry,  we’ve got you covered. 

We understand that product labels can be difficult to decipher. After all, what makes sunscreen reef safe? What’s the difference between chemical vs. mineral sunscreen? And do you need to look for Pa +++ sunscreen if you’re already using one with SPF 30 or better?

In this post, we’ll answer these questions and more to help you understand how to choose the most protective, planet-friendly sunscreen.

Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens penetrate into the skin to absorb UV light, then convert it to heat. These chemicals can break down during the course of use and also irritate skin. That’s not exactly ideal if you have sensitive skin.

On the other hand, mineral sunscreens - like zinc and titanium dioxide - scatter UV light away from skin. Think of it as a shiny coat of armor reflecting sunlight away from your skin to deflect damaging UV rays.

So chemical sunscreen absorbs, mineral sunscreen reflects. Pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, the easy part ends here.

Zinc Sheer Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen

Reef Friendly vs. Reef Safe Sunscreen

Scientists have discovered that some sunscreen ingredients can harm coral reefs. In response, many manufacturers began using the terms  “reef safe” and “reef friendly.”  These are both unregulated terms, which means a manufacturer can use them without proving that their sunscreen doesn't harm coral reefs. 

There is no official definition for what is reef friendly vs. reef safe sunscreen. Most manufacturers use these terms to describe 100% mineral sunscreens. Some also use them to describe chemical blocks such as avobenzone, octisalate, and homosalate. There are two reasons why this is problematic:

  1. The jury is still out on whether these chemical sunscreens are actually coral reef safe sunscreens. 
  2. Mineral sunscreens can feel goopy and leave behind a white residue. To avoid this, some manufacturers use zinc nanoparticles, which can also damage coral reefs.

What Is Reef Safe Sunscreen?

In our view of reef friendly vs. reef safe sunscreen, reef safe sunscreen is a product that contains neither chemical sunblocks nor nanoparticles. Our scientists engineered our Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen with this gold standard in mind. 

We use non-nano zinc to provide broad-spectrum, Pa +++ SPF 30 protection. Our sunscreen also contains squalane, which works together with zinc oxide to help strengthen the skin's moisture barrier. The best part: it’s not sticky and disappears into any skin tone, making it a win for your skin and the ocean.

Learn more about our Invisible Sun Protection For All.

Zinc Sheer Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen

What Is Pa +++ Sunscreen?

We realize this term might be new to you, so let’s break it down. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. 

Pa is a factor of protection against UVA rays, while SPF measures protection against UVB rays.  Our Sheer Mineral Sunscreen is Pa +++,  which means it provides high protection against UVA rays.

How To Layer Sunscreen With Your Skincare

Damaging UV rays can affect your skin year-round, making sunscreen a crucial step in your skincare routine no matter what the season. Follow this layering guide to ensure you're getting the most out of your sun protection product.

Step 1: Wash your face with Antioxidant Cleansing Oil, Amino Alo Gentle Cleanser.

Step 2: Prep your skin with the right toner for your skin type. We recommend our BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner if you want to refine, clarify, and shrink pores. If your skin is craving moisture, use our Hyaluronic Acid Facial Mist to hydrate and plump fine lines.

Step 3: Moisturize the delicate skin around your eyes with your favorite eye cream or gel.

Step 4: Treat skin concerns with a powerful, effective serum. A Vitamin C Serum, for example, can help reduce the appearance of sun damage while protecting against free radicals.

Step 5: Provide all-over hydration with our Probiotic Gel Moisturizer or Omega Repair Cream.

Step 6: Top with 100% Squalane or Vitamin C Rose Oil to seal in your skincare and add even more hydration.

Step 7: Sunscreen should always be the last step in your morning skincare routine. Layering it on top of all your other products provides the best protection.

Complete guide to layering your skincare products

We hope you enjoyed learning about what makes sunscreen reef safe, and how to use mineral sunscreen so it’s most effective. If you’d like to learn more about our Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen, head over to our YouTube channel for a behind-the-scenes look at how we make it.

Christine Tusher
Christine Tusher Writer and expert
As a lifestyle writer and journalist, I love sharing my passion for ocean conservation and obsession with clean beauty. I’ve tried almost every trend and ingredient, and Biossance’s science-backed formulas are the only ones that consistently calm my reactive skin and make it smoother, clearer, and healthier. I’m so excited to be on this journey of skincare innovation with Biossance, and to share it with you!

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