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Biodegradable or reef-safe sunscreen refers to a specific sunblock formula that degrades naturally and doesn’t contain chemicals that could be harmful to the environment, specifically coral reefs.
In one study, researchers found that just a small amount of sunscreen containing the ingredient oxybenzone could be enough to break down coral, causing it to lose its nutrients, bleach, and often die. Reef-safe or biodegradable sunscreens don’t contain these chemicals and are safer for the marine environment.
While scientists disagree about the exact impact of chemical sunscreen on reefs, biodegradable and reef-safe sunscreen is popular among consumers who wish to reduce their overall impact on marine life.