The sunscreen mistake you've been making

Kristine Tarbert
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Don't forget to 'slip, slop, slap'. Photo: Getty

Remembering to ‘slip, slop, slap’ is one of the most important messages of the summer, but did you know it’s equally important to choose the right sunscreen.

And while most of us probably focus on finding something that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve rolled around in a tub of lard, it turns out we’ve been making one other mistake.

That’s not choosing a sunscreen that is reef-safe.

NIVEA Skincare Expert, Robyn Hutch, says there are two chemicals that have been found to cause sunscreen induced coral bleaching and stop coral from growing.

“These chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, are commonly found in traditional sunscreens,” Robyn tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“They also harm marine animals. Roughly 6,000 to 14,000 tons of sunscreen slide off humans into coral reef areas each year, exposing the underwater ecosystems to these chemicals.

“Being aware of our impact on the environment extends into our impact on sea life. Using a reef-safe sunscreen, ensures that we reduce the risk of introducing harmful chemicals into the sea and effecting our coral reefs.”

Is your sunscreen reef-safe? Photo: Getty

Sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate ingredients are considered ‘reef-safe.’

“Choosing a sunscreen that is compliant with the Hawaii Reef Bill significantly reduces the risk of these chemicals entering the ocean,” Robyn explains.

Other top tips for choosing the right sunscreen

Everyone’s skin type is different, so it is very important to choose the right sunscreen for you when heading out into the sun. My tips for choosing the right sunscreen would be:

  • Use a sunscreen that you feel comfortable applying daily that you like the feel of. Using a sunscreen you’re comfortable with allows you to feel confident in knowing your skin being protected by the sun without irritating on your skin.

  • Choose an application format that is easy and enjoyable to apply eg spray, roll-on lotion. This is especially true for families and ensures it’s a step you won’t forget.

  • If you plan on spending time in the water or generally enjoying time outdoors/sweating look for water-resistant sunscreens. By choosing water-resistant sunscreens, you are ensuring UVA/UVB protection while in the water. Don’t forget though to reapply once out of the water and towelling off.

  • Use a sunscreen that has an SPF factor, this should be determined on how long you will be in the sun for maximum sun protection. It is best to use a sunscreen with SPF50+ to protect your skin from sun damage within every application. If you are just going about your daily routine, an SPF30 product could be all you need to keep your skin protected.

  • Remember that sunscreens are only part of sun protection. Don’t forget to apply 20 mins before heading out, seek out shade, wear protective lotion, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.

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