Playa del Carmen Tours

 

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MARINE-FRIENDLY SUNSCREEN

Biodegradable Sunscreen Reef-Friendly Sunblock Ferry Schedules
     

If you visit anywhere in the Riviera Maya, including Cancun or Playa del Carmen, or even Cozumel, you'll need to come armed with Biodegradable Sunscreen.  This is the only type of sunscreen that you can use in this area of Mexico, in an effort to preserve the beautiful coral reefs.  Please respect these regulations, and pick up some Coral Reef Friendly Sunblock before coming to Playa del Carmen.  Only biodegradable suntan lotions and sunscreens can be used inside Xcaret or Xel Ha as well, and they'll usually confiscate any regular chemical or oil-bases sunscreens upon sight.

Information regarding eco-friendly sunscreens is not readily available so we've tried to make it simple for you here.  If you have any questions at all about biodegradable products, just E-mail us, we're happy to help.

ANSWERING THE BASIC QUESTIONS:

Q: What is biodegradable sunscreen?
A:  Most commercially available sun blocks are packed full of chemicals and oils that damage the ecosystem and destroy coral reefs.  A few select products are engineered with not only coral reefs, but also your health in mind.  They use only natural products that naturally break down, so they minimize damage to the environment.  They also lack chemicals and oils that poison the reefs or promote viral infections, instead using natural ingredients that are found anyway in sea water.

Q: How do I know if my sunscreen is biodegradable?
A: If it doesn't say it is on the package then it isn't.  None of the major brands are biodegradable - such as Coppertone, Banana Boat, No-Ad, etc.

Q: As long as my sunblock says biodegradable is it OK?
A: Not necessarily.  Many biodegradable suntan lotions use chemical UV blockers which have been shown to be harmful to the environment.  Some products even say they're marine friendly but still contain ingredients shown to cause coral bleaching and destruction of the reefs.  Also make sure that your sunscreen says "Waterproof" so it won't wash off in the water, further minimizing it's impact on the reefs.  See Chart

Q: Are there certain ingredients to watch out for?
A:  Some of the common UV Blockers are PABA, Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and the preservative butylparaben.  Don't use anything that contains these ingredients in the water.  We recommend products using Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide instead - these minerals are naturally occurring in sea water, and are not chemicals.  See our list of harmful ingredients in the lower right - check these against your sunscreen label to see if it's reef-friendly.  If these are on your label, then your sunscreen is not reef-friendly and may be confiscated at Xel Ha or Xcaret.

Q: What kind of damage does sunscreen do to the marine ecosystem?
A:  Sunscreens worn by millions of tourists washes off in the water, over 4,000 tons of it ever year, and settles in big oil slicks which suffocate the reefs.  Also, chemicals they contain cause viral infection in the coral, which leads to bleaching and kills the coral.  As much as 25% of the world's coral reefs are in imminent danger of collapse due to human pressures, and another 25% is in longer term danger.  Oxybenzone, a common sunscreen ingredient, has even been shown to feminize fish.

Q: Where can I buy Biodegradable Reef-Friendly Items?
A:  We've provided some links for you at right.  You might be able to find them at a local health food store but usually not at your local drugstore or Wal-Mart.  We like to recommend MexiTan because it says "Biodegradable" in big red letters, so you won't run into trouble at Xcaret or Xel Ha, and is especially formulated for use in Mexico.

Q: I've never heard of this before.  Are you making this stuff up?
A: See the links below for the latest information.  Search Google for tons more references.

National Geographic: Swimmer's Sunscreen Killing Off Corals
Discover Magazine: The Biology of Sunscreens 
E-Turbo News: Tourist Sunscreen Killing Off Coral Reefs
University of California: Sunscreens Feminizing Fish
Indian Ocean Sea Turtles: Sunscreen May Be Killing Corals
 

MEXITAN


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OUR CHOICE!


CARIBBEAN SOL

Suncare Sportblock Lotion SPF 15 - SPF15 Sport, 4 oz
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LURE LUX


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BADGER

Badger Biodegradable Sunscreen
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SOLEO ORGANICS

Biodegradable Sunscreen
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BATAB


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Does Your Sunscreen Have Any of These?

PABA
Octocrylene
Octinoxate
Oxybenzone
4-methylbenzylidene
Butylparaben
Benzophenone
Butyl-Methoxydi-benzoylmethane
Hexyldecanol
Dimethyl Capramide
Cetyl Dimethicone
Methylparaben
Polyethylene
Propylparaben
Butylcarbamate

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