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!
Good review of this sun screen. Nice when someone else does all work for me. Like how it covers completely.
Oh wow. I’ve never thought about how sunscreen might affect the environment. It never occurred to me that what I put on myself and my family could impact the life in the water.
I’ve heard how bad sunscreen is for the reef and the ocean. It is disheartening when I think of all the things we do to our environment!
This is something I would have never thought about. I’m glad that reef safe sunscreen is available now. Snorkeling is on my bucket list so hopefully I will be able to do this someday. Looks like a lot of fun.
I love snorkeling, we try to do it everywhere we go! This is awesome that the sunscreen is safe for the reef.
Wow! That is such a great stuff and I am glad that Reef Sunscreen is now available. Also good to know that this product not only protect your skin but also protecting the ocean.
Wow i need to check out this sunscreen! Waterproof sunscreen is always something i look into for my kiddies.
I will have to check this out and buy one. We need it for our upcoming trip next week.
Oh no! I had no idea my sunscreen might be hurting the reefs. I will have to try one of these instead.
Sounds like a great sunscreen. I always make sure my girls have it on. I hate to see anyone with a sunburn. I’ll have to check this brand out because I’ve never heard of it til now.
I haven’t had to consider what sunscreen to wear but it is good information to have. It totally makes sense that it would affect sea life.
Wow, I have never heard of reef-safe sunscreen. Thanks! I learned something new today! It’s a great way of showing you care for the safety of our environment too!
We always have sunscreen on hand whenever we head outdoors as a family. When the kids go swimming, they wear rash guards for addition sun coverage.
I have never heard of reef-safe sunscreen, but it’s really interesting! I agree that a rash guard suit is so beneficial to wear in the summer, especially for kids!
I like that this brand of sunscreen is safe for the environment! I know how precious corals are growing up in the tropical islands of the Philippines. Yay!
Honestly until this day i never even knew about sunscreen effecting the reef. It makes total sense. Thank you for this eyeopening moment
i have never heard of this type of sunscreen. but i def need to start using it
Always on the hunt for the safest sunscreen out there! Great information!
I know how harmful sunscreen can be. Glad to hear there’s this safer option!
I didn’t know that some places ban regular sunscreen. I am far from the beaches and I rarely travel. Hoping to change that this year and so glad I read this!
love the pictures and the sunscreen stays on in the water thanks for sharing
It is good to know that there are products like this available for us to use. It is just one small way for us to help stop polluting the waters!
Thanks for the reminder! I have heard of reef safe sunscreen once before. I think it would be good to use anywhere in water!
Firstly, these pictures are incredible. What an experience! Secondly, I had no idea about reef-safe sunscreen or rash guards. I’m officially adding snorkeling to my bucket list.
Chalk up another item that is potentially harmful to the environment! I never knew sunscreen fit this category, but it is good to know that a viable, safe alternative exists.
My family and I talked about this during the weekend, just reminising about when me and my husband were kids… there were no sunscreen, totally crazy!
I actually didn’t know that sunscreen could harm sea life like reefs. I’m so glad you put a spotlight on this. I’ll be sure to use sunscreen that’s safe for the planet from now on.
I never knew that sunscreen is made of chemicals that can hurt the ocean wildlife. And first time I hear of reef sunscreen.
I’ll definitely buy one the next time I go to the beach.
This is good one. I have not gone out for swimming for long but water sunscreen is essential. I had been tanned often after swimming, can try this one.
I didn’t know sunscreen affected the environment and this is the first time I heard of reef sunscreen. I will check it out!
I love snorkeling I miss that so much
Thank You, this is exactly what I needed. Going to be swimming and Reef-Safe Sunscreen sounds great!
This was a very informative post and makes me want to go on a tropical vacation immediately. And thanks for making me think more about reef safe sunscreen
I never heard of reef safe sunscreen thats so interesting to know about it. Thanks for sharing
I was not aware that there is such a thing as reef-safe sunscreen. This is something I don’t really mind when buying sunblock so, thank you for sharing this as I learned something new today. Will definitely keep this in. Thank you for the product recommendation.
We love Garden Goddess sunscreen. It’s so easy for my kids to apply ti themselves.