The benefits of using eco-friendly sunscreen while sailing
The benefits of using eco-friendly sunscreen while sailing

Protecting the environment while sailing is crucial, and using eco-friendly sunscreen can make a big difference. Learn why choosing the right sunscreen can help preserve marine life and coral reefs while also protecting your skin.

The Benefits of Using Eco-Friendly Sunscreen While Sailing

As we embark on our sailing adventures, it’s essential to remember that our actions have a direct impact on the environment around us. One often overlooked aspect of our environmental responsibility is the sunscreen we use. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using eco-friendly sunscreen while sailing and how it can help protect marine life.

Table of Contents

Why Sunscreen Matters

When sailing, we are exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays for extended periods. These rays can cause sunburn, premature aging, and increase the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen is a crucial tool in protecting our skin from these harmful effects.

However, not all sunscreens are created equal. Many traditional sunscreens contain chemicals that can harm marine life and contribute to the destruction of coral reefs. As sailors, we have a responsibility to protect the environment we love, and that includes choosing eco-friendly sunscreen.

The Harmful Effects of Traditional Sunscreens

Traditional sunscreens often contain chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene. These chemicals are known to cause coral bleaching, which can lead to the death of coral reefs. Coral reefs are essential ecosystems that support a vast array of marine life and provide numerous benefits to humans, including coastal protection, tourism, and food.

In addition to harming coral reefs, these chemicals can also accumulate in marine life, causing reproductive and developmental issues in fish and other aquatic organisms. This can lead to a decline in biodiversity and disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

Furthermore, these chemicals can also harm humans. Studies have shown that oxybenzone and octinoxate can disrupt hormone function and may be linked to various health issues, including endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity.

Eco-Friendly Sunscreen: A Better Alternative

Eco-friendly sunscreens, also known as reef-safe or mineral sunscreens, are a better alternative for both our skin and the environment. These sunscreens use natural minerals, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. These minerals are non-toxic and do not harm marine life or coral reefs.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, eco-friendly sunscreens also offer several benefits for our skin:

  • Broad-spectrum protection: Mineral sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays, providing comprehensive protection from the sun.
  • Less irritation: Because they use natural minerals, eco-friendly sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
  • No chemical absorption: Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin and do not get absorbed into the bloodstream.

How to Choose the Right Eco-Friendly Sunscreen

When selecting an eco-friendly sunscreen, consider the following factors:

  • Look for mineral-based ingredients: Ensure the sunscreen uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as its active ingredients. Avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene.
  • Choose broad-spectrum protection: Select a sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Consider water resistance: When sailing, it’s essential to choose a water-resistant sunscreen that will stay on your skin even when you’re in the water.
  • Check the SPF: Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 for adequate protection.
  • Opt for a reputable brand: Look for brands that are known for their commitment to eco-friendly products and have a good reputation in the market.

Applying Eco-Friendly Sunscreen Correctly

To get the most out of your eco-friendly sunscreen, follow these application tips:

  • Apply generously: Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about one ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover their body.
  • Apply early: Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure to allow the minerals to form a protective barrier on your skin.
  • Reapply often: Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating.
  • Don’t forget the details: Remember to apply sunscreen to often-overlooked areas, such as the tops of your feet, the back of your hands, and your ears.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself from the Sun

In addition to using eco-friendly sunscreen, consider these additional sun protection measures:

  • Wear protective clothing: Opt for long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats to shield your skin from the sun.
  • Seek shade: When possible, take breaks in the shade to minimize sun exposure.
  • Wear sunglasses: Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
  • Avoid peak sun hours: The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to schedule your sailing activities outside of these hours when possible.


As sailors, we have a responsibility to protect the environment we love. By choosing eco-friendly sunscreen, we can help preserve marine life and coral reefs while also protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. By following the tips in this article, you can enjoy your sailing adventures while minimizing your impact on the environment.