Our family has traveled to the Yucatan region of Mexico several times, and while researching what we needed for our trip, we learned that many places require reef-safe sunscreen. In fact, regular sunscreen is not allowed at many resorts and other destinations. Over the years, there has been a movement to protect the natural area and eliminate chemicals that are not safe for the oceans and cenotes in the area.
Regardless of visiting places that have banned regular sunscreen, I want to use products that are more environmentally friendly. There are many options when it comes to reef-safe sunscreens out there, and the ones we have used have been just as good as “traditional” sunscreens.
We shop mostly online, comparing reviews and a variety of reef-safe sunscreens. We have two young children, so not only are we happy to use sunscreens that are reef safe, but they are also safer to use. I appreciate using products that I can be confident are better to apply to our skin and are not hurting marine life.
If you are traveling somewhere warm and planning on going swimming or snorkeling, I recommend both reef-safe sunscreen and rash guards. With rash guards, you can simply limit the amount of sunscreen you use at all. My daughter wore a long-sleeve children’s rash guard shirt on our vacation, and it made things a lot easier without having to fuss with sunscreen all the time.
There are so many great advantages to wearing a rash guard:
~ They are quick and easy to put on
~ You know all your skin is covered (ever been out in the sun only to find spots you’ve missed?)
~ No worries about reapplying sunscreen and keeping track of time (remember, when you swim even with sport sunscreen, you are supposed to re-apply regularly according to the instructions)
~ No need to put anything on your skin (many, if not most, sunscreens have chemicals – and even those that don’t can irritate skin)
There are a lot of great reef-safe sunscreens to choose from, whether you are looking for regular or reef-safe sport sunscreen. From our experience, many of these require rubbing in the sunscreen, because it is a lotion or because it sprays a white film that needs to be rubbed in. I don’t mind the extra work, but it is something to keep in mind, especially if you are in a rush or you have kids who are a bit impatient when it comes to sunscreen application (another reason we love rash guards!).
As far as traveling, we pack basics in our carry-on in case our luggage gets lost, and that includes a swimsuit and travel-size sunscreen. Just remember to be aware of what size liquids you are allowed to bring on the plane (you can check TSA regulations here). I also always put my sunscreen in a plastic bag, just in case they leak in my luggage. I found this balm-style Raw Elements Sunscreen at Target (also available online), which was nice to keep in my bag and not have a liquid sunscreen.
When we traveled to Mexico, there were plenty of places where you could buy reef-safe sunscreen. It seems like most resorts and places like Xcaret sell safe sunscreen on site, or you could go to a drugstore or store such as Chedraui.
Resorts and tour operators are often vigilant about what kind of sunscreen you use. In fact, one of the places where we went snorkeling, we were standing at our car applying sunscreen, and an employee ran over in a panic to warn us about putting on sunscreen. He thought we were using regular sunscreen, and was relieved when we showed him the label and were able to reassure him that it was reef-safe.
Reef sunscreen is also becoming more popular, so it is nice to have a variety of choices. At the rate that the oceans are being exposed to so many sources of pollution, it is nice to have a way to do our part to keep the oceans and reefs healthy.
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Check out our Mexico posts here.
About the Author: Marysa
I am a busy blogger and mom of two girls! We love traveling and the great outdoors, and are always looking for our next adventure!