Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is starting up a brand-wide ban on all toxic sunscreens and is instead utilizing environmentally friendly and biologically safer alternatives. It's not the first brand or destination to do so: Last year, Hawaii announced a ban on sun screens to protect its coral from chemical damage.
Six Senses says all approved sunscreens are considered 100 percent reef-safe, passing safety measures derived from acceptable Environmental Working Group standards and the latest scientific research on coral reef health. Six Senses has also selected products that use plant-based or fully compostable packaging. As of September 1, 2019, all Six Senses properties will offer sun products that can not potentially impact marine ecosystems.
According to Marine Life, a marine conservation NGO, up to 82,000 different chemicals from personal products could be entering the oceans, which are likely areas popular with swimmers and divers. A toxic chemical that is common in sunscreen is Oxybenzone, which could seriously damage coral reefs by breaking down defenses against bleaching, damaging DNA, deforming younger corals and disrupting endocrine (hormone) systems.
Most coral reef-safe sunscreens, on the other hand, contain the active ingredients of non-nano zinc oxide and titanium oxide, protecting the skin by reflecting UVA and UVB rays off it. These ingredients provide a longer period of protection for sunbathers and outdoor enthusiasts because they are not absorbed into the skin easily.
Six Senses has communicated with a dozen brands and more than 50 products that meet the established criteria for environmental and human health, with the list expanding as more products are found. Six Senses says it is hoping to use this initiative as a learning tool for guests as they become more aware of safer options. Guests will be informed of the group’s commitment and suggested options for use during their stay.
Guest who choose a diving experience will be educated by the Green Fins education material that will be installed in all diving shops. Green Fins is a United Nations Environmental Programme and Regional Seas program tool for sustainable tourism in dive operations and water behavior that strives to ensure conservation of coral reefs.