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IS YOUR SUNSCREEN SAFE?

Biodegradable Sunscreen Reef-Friendly Sunblock Ferry Schedules
     

WHICH SUNSCREENS ARE CORAL REEF FRIENDLY?

Biodegradable sunscreen, sun block, and suntan oils are required for use in the Caribbean Sea of Mexico, including at Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and at any local park like Xcaret, Xel Ha, Chankanaab or Garrafon.

See our Biodegradable Sunblock page for a full description of what biodegradable sunscreen is, why it's important, and where to buy it.

This page is an attempt to answer your questions about what types of commonly found sunscreens are safe for use on coral reefs and which sunscreens are not.  All the brands found in the right column of this page are considered reef-friendly, and are acceptable for use in the Mexican Caribbean, as well as anywhere else in the world, particularly near the reefs.

Things to Consider:

1) Does your brand say biodegradable on the label?  If not, then it's probably not.  Even if it is, it might not get past Xcaret or Xel Ha.  The usual brands like Coppertone, Banana Boat, Panama Jack and No-AD are not biodegradable.

2) What is the active ingredient of your brand?  Does it contain PABA?  If so, then it's really bad.  Does it contain chemicals like Octinoxate or Oxybenzone?  Those have been shown to promote viral infection in coral reefs.  If it is Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide, then it is probably okay if it's also biodegradable and doesn't contain petroleum based oils.

Complete list of ingredients to watch out for:

Sunscreen Ingredients Shown to be Harmful to Coral Reefs
PABA Octocrylene Octinoxate
Oxybenzone 4-Methylbenzylidene Butylparaben
Benzophenone Butyl-Methoxydibenzoylmethane Hexyldecanol
Methylparaben Dimethyl Capramide Polyethylene
Propylparaben Cetyl Dimethicone Butylcarbamate
Most of these ingredients have been banned at Xcaret and Xel Ha, as well as other areas of the Riviera Maya.  All have been shown to be harmful to coral reefs.  Please check your sunscreen before going into the water.  The future of our coral reefs may depend on it.

NOT ALL BIODEGRADABLE BRANDS ARE CREATED EQUAL!

BIODEGRADABLE BRAND WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT
All Terrain AquaSport The SPF30 Version Contains Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Dimethicone, Octinoxate and Benzophenone.  SPF15 Contains Dimethicone but not the other chemicals and parabens. 
Aloe Up Pro Sport Contains Avobenzone
Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Contains Padimate O (PABA Ester)
Aveeno Naturals Contains Cetyl Dimethicone, Oxybenzone, Octisalate.  Not Biodegradable.
Beach Buff Contains Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Oxybenzone
Burt's Bees Not Water Resistant
California Baby Contains Propylparaben (Stick only). 
Eco-Lani Not Water Resistant
Hawaiian Tropic Biodegradable Contains Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Octisalate.
Heiko Not Water Resistant.
Jason Naturals Sunbrellas Contains Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Octisalate and Octocrylene
Nature's Gate Aquablock Contains Octinoxate, Oxybenzone
Newco Not Water Resistant
Reef Safe Contains Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Octisalate, Cetyl Dimethicone, Propylparaben, Methylparaben
Safe Sea Contains Octinoxate, Octisalate
Smartshield Contains Octinoxate, Octisalate, Avobenzone, Octocrylene, Padimate, Propylparaben
Vanicream Contains Octinoxate.
Zinka Contains Octinoxate
Brands such as Coppertone, No-AD, Banana Boat, etc. are not biodegradable and contain petrochemicals harmful to reefs. 
We consider water resistant for 80 minutes or more to be close enough to waterproof, as you rarely are in the water longer than that.

Choose wisely and help preserve the coral reefs for your kids to enjoy, and their kids too!

Have a brand of natural or biodegradable sunscreen that you don't see here?  You can ask us.

MEXITAN


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OUR CHOICE!

 

CARIBBEAN SOL

Suncare Sportblock Lotion SPF 15 - SPF15 Sport, 4 oz
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BADGER

Badger Biodegradable Sunscreen
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UV NATURAL


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SOLEO ORGANICS

Biodegradable Sunscreen
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BATAB


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