With so many options available on the market today it can be quite daunting to choose a sunscreen that will *hopefully* do the job of protecting your loved ones in the sun; but with so many different ingredients, differing factors and often-discussed concerns over the chemicals a sunscreen may contain, the process can be a bit daunting. 

You may wonder:

What is the often-discussed ‘evil’ of oxybenzone? 

What is the difference between zinc oxide and titanium dioxide? 

And which sunscreens are harmful to marine life?

In answer to those questions you may have:

  • What is Oxybenzone?

    Oxybenzone is a chemical filter found commonly in 80% of commercial sun screens; its primary function is to absorb UV light. Oxybenzone is also used in nail polish and hair spray. This synthetic chemical can upset the endocrine system and pose a risk to reproductive systems; it is said to cause endometriosis in females, lower sperm count in males, and increase the risk of hormone-related cancers. Do we really want to put this on our skin?

  • What is considered ‘reef safe’?

    Products that are generally free of oxybenzone and octinoxate are considered ‘reef-safe’ – both ingredients are banned for use in Hawaii and Key West due to the impact they cause on coral reefs, and for their contribution to coral bleaching.

  • Zinc oxide vs titanium dioxide.

    Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are mineral based and are not absorbed into the skin, unlike oxybenzone. Both ingredients are naturally-occuring and are considered ‘reef-safe’ as they are not linked to coral bleaching.

  • Zinc oxide’s UV absorption rate has a broader spectrum across both ultraviolet A (UVA) long-wave and ultraviolet B (UVB) short-wave rays. 

  • Titanium Dioxide has been classed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as being ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’, so wherever possible please choose a zinc-based sunscreen.

What do we recommend looking for when choosing a sunscreen?

The ethos behind Tribe Tropical is sun-safety and we choose to protect our family with our high-quality UPF50+ fabrics whenever we venture out in the sun – however when choosing which sunscreen to buy (to cover any exposed parts of skin) we always look for sunscreen that is: 

  • Free of oxybenzone
  • Reef-safe
  • Zinc-based wherever possible, and ideally free of artificial preservatives
  • Not tested on animals
  • Australian-made wherever possible


Images © Tribe Tropical

Some of our favourite Australian sunscreen brands that we choose to use are:

By covering as much skin as possible with high-quality UPF50+ fabrics the need for sunscreen is lessened thereby minimising risks to delicate marine environments. 

We always recommend covering sun-exposed skin with high-quality, reef-safe sunscreen. 

Tribe Tropical’s range of premium UPF50+ swimsuits and hats can help to protect skin from sun damage. 

Tribe Tropical's swimsuits and hats provide premium sun protection. Image © Rachel Fraser.

** Please note – none of the links in this post are sponsored links and are recommended purely based on the opinion of the author.

Tribe Tropical offers a discount to subscribers when they join the tribe. Discounts off kids swimwear, sun safe swimwear.

September 08, 2022 — Tribe Tropical Aus Admin

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.