What Is Biodegradable Sunscreen? Why is it recommended?


There are many things you need to pay attention to when going snorkeling or diving, apart from accessories or equipment. Dipping your body into water areas confirmed suitable for these activities requires you to be careful – there is a chance you could harm life living underwater.

Many divers could be wearing harmful, toxic chemicals, all in the guise of personal care products, which could endanger lives underwater. Therefore, it is critical to know the kind of care products you wear to protect marine animals that could be sensitive to the ingredients. One of the best recommended choices is Biodegradable sunscreen.

What is Biodegradable Sunscreen?

Today, there are many types of sunscreens with little or no consideration to marine life, as long as it gives the diver a good feeling. However, that is entirely wrong because snorkeling or diving requires taking safety precautions to protect a diver and the life underwater. Thus, the introduction of biodegradable sunscreen will make a huge difference.

This type of sunscreen is environmental-friendly and contains natural ingredients suitable for the underwater community. Unlike other sunscreens with harmful ingredients that could harm coral reefs, Biodegradable Sunscreen has minimized damage to the environment. It breaks down naturally while delivering great effects on the body.

Biodegradable sunscreen is fast becoming the only acceptable care product on snorkeling tours and scuba diving trips because of its safe effects. Hence, it is important to consider taking it along and check for other acceptable care products a diving center allows.

What are the Main Ingredients of a Biodegradable Sunscreen?

Some general sunscreens contain harmful ingredients such as Oxybenzone, Nano Titanium Dioxide, Nano Zinc Oxide, and Octinoxate that could cause harm to coral reefs. However, biodegradable sunscreens replace these ingredients with environment-friendly types so that marine life remains protected.

Mineral ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are safe. They have been reported not to harm coral life. Since they can break down naturally, they are better preferred to the former. Besides, they reflect damaging UVB and UVA rays, thus, protecting the skin.

So, if you want to buy sunscreen, ensure to get coral-safe types that contain Z-Cote (Zinc Oxide) and T-Lite (Titanium Dioxide).

Why Use a Biodegradable Sunscreen?

Using sunscreen is a way to contribute positively to your skin. However, you need to be careful of the type of products you use – since some of them contain toxic chemicals that can cause damage to the skin and the environment. Biodegradable sunscreens are recommended since they are skin-safe and do not threaten the environment they come in contact with.

It would help if you used biodegradable sunscreen because it acts as a physical barrier between your skin and dangerous UV rays from sunlight either on land or in water. In essence, it reduces a diver’s risk of skin cancer.

How to Know if a Sunscreen is Biodegradable?

Telling if sunscreen is biodegradable or not is easy. First, you can decide to go for some of the top-rated brands, such as Thinksport SPF 50, Babo Botanicals SPF 30, All Good SPF 30, Kinfield Daily Dew SPF 35, and many others. Also, you can check out the product labels to see if it says “biodegradable.”

As long as you know what you’re looking for, getting a biodegradable sunscreen isn’t so difficult.

How Do Sunscreens Affect Marine Life?

Over 50 sunscreen brands were tested, and it was discovered that specific chemicals – Oxybenzone and Octinoxate were strong enough to affect marine life. These chemicals cause damage to the DNA, leading to debilitating conditions, such as cancer. They are also responsible for coral bleaching and abnormalities in juvenile corals.

The oils in these skin care products cause damage to an existing, delicate ecosystem, such that the reefs suffocate, leading to the death of many corals. Furthermore, it was discovered that the active ingredient, Oxybenzone feminizes fish, which is more of a problem than people realize.

Due to this impact, many diving centers placed an open ban on the use of non-biodegradable sunscreens.

Does Biodegradable Sunscreen Cause Coral Bleaching?

Coral reefs are always in great condition until external factors compromise them. One of these factors is harmful, toxic substances. Many personal care products always find a way to end up in the world’s oceans, causing pollution to underwater life. It occurs every year, such that irreparable damage is done to coral reefs – bleaching.

As investigated, between 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen wash off from swimmers and divers every year, and so far, about 25% of the world’s reef has experienced coral bleaching. Fortunately, biodegradable sunscreens aren’t one of those types of sunscreens to harm coral reefs.

Read here on the causes of coral bleaching in oceans.

What are the Best Brands of Biodegradable Sunscreen?

Even without visiting the ocean, sunscreens always find their way to one; hence, it is recommended that biodegradable sunscreens are adopted widely. Now, knowing the brand to go for is important because only then can you make the right decision on what is good for your skin and the coral reefs, ultimately.

Below is a review of the top 3 brands to use.

Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian SPF 50 Sunscreen

One of the safest choices of sunscreens to use is the Kokua Sun Care SPF 50 because of its all-natural and zinc ingredient. It is a reef-safe sunscreen that contains antioxidants great for the body and even marine life.

All Good Vegan Sport SPF 30 Sunscreen

A mineral-based sunscreen with an active zinc oxide ingredient to use is the All Good Vegan Sport SPF 30. It is gluten-free and hypoallergenic, making it suitable to use even on sensitive skins.

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral-Based Sunscreen

Another rewarding mineral-based sunscreen with no oily effect is the Thinksport SPF 50+. It has a good natural scent, with reef-safe properties.


Coral reef and marine life protection are important because they influence everything that concerns the world we live in. If replacing harmful sunscreens with biodegradable ones is the way to go, then divers, swimmers, and every other person should flow with it. That way, there is minimal damage done to coral reefs every year.