Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral since 2016? What used to be a colorful ecosystem of marine and plant wildlife is slowly losing its vibrance.

While there are many contributors, sunscreen is one item that bleaches coral and hurts our marine life. In fact, 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be washed into the oceans each year. To offer reef relief, some beach destinations have banned sunscreens that contain harmful substances.

Whether you are surfing at Seal Beach or hanging out at Saybrook Park, commit to only wear safe sunscreens this summer. Here is all you should know about reef-safe sunscreens, including a few recommended brands.

1. Reef-Safe Sunscreens Are Free of Harmful Ingredients

Reef-safe sunscreens are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals found in the majority of sunscreens that contribute to coral bleaching. As an alternative to these harmful ingredients, reef-friendly sunscreens are made up of mineral-based ingredients, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. Unlike chemical sunscreen ingredients that absorb UV rays, the particles of reef-safe ingredients sit on top of the skin to block the sun. They are less harmful to our reefs and are not linked to coral bleaching.

2. Not Every Natural Sunscreen Is Reef-Safe

Just because a sunscreen says “natural” or “organic” on the bottle does not mean that it is reef-friendly. While the “Reef-Safe” label is a helpful indicator, it’s best not to trust it completely. We recommend always reading the ingredient list before purchasing a product to ensure that it’s safe for your skin and the environment. Some sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide but are mixed with chemical fillers. Here is a list of reef harming ingredients often found in sunscreens that you should always avoid.

3. Finding a Safe Brand Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

Whether you buy your sunscreen at Target, Ralphs, or a local beach shop, choosing a sunscreen that is safe for the environment can be overwhelming. If you are worried that you’ll accidentally buy a sunscreen that isn’t reef-safe, we’ve got you covered. Here are 15 reef-safe sunscreen brands to choose from this summer that are available at your local retailer and online.

Protect your skin and the environment by only purchasing reef-friendly sunscreens. Remember to always check the ingredient list before purchasing a product. Your skin will look great, and our coral reefs and marine life will thank you!