May 21, 2019

OCEANSCREEN: Six Senses are sunscreening out the risk to marine life

Words by Matt Leedham

From September 1 2019, all Six Senses’ hotels, resorts (18) and spas (37) are committing to providing only marine-safe, environmentally-friendly sunscreen products.

To be locally sensitive to its coastline locations and globally sensitive in all environments it operates, Six Senses is initiating a brand-wide ban on all toxic sunscreens and embracing environmentally-friendly and biologically-safer alternatives.

Batfish, Six Senses Fiji
Batfish, Six Senses Fiji

What’s the challenge?

According to Marine Life, a marine conservation NGO, there may be up to 82,000 different chemicals from personal products entering the oceans, particularly around areas popular with swimmers and divers.

Most sunscreen products are comprised of synthetic chemical ingredients such as Oxybenzone, one of the most hazardous chemicals.

Introducing these compounds into the marine environment, along with the current state of ocean acidification and climate change, causes significant damage to corals.

This includes a breakdown of defences against bleaching, damaged DNA, deformities in younger corals, and disrupted endocrine (hormone) systems which ultimately cause toxic concentrations in the aquatic organisms.

Surfers, Six Senses, Fiji

What’s the solution?

Most coral reef-safe sunscreens contain the active ingredients of non-nano zinc oxide and titanium oxide, protecting the skin by reflecting UVA and UVB rays off the skin like a mirror.

These ingredients are not absorbed into the skin easily, and as a result, provide a more extended period of protection for sunbathers and outdoor enthusiasts.

As of September 1, 2019, all Six Senses properties will be compliant with providing only sun products that do not pose a threat to marine ecosystems.

Available for sale at Six Senses properties, the approved sunscreens have been recognised as 100 per cent reef-safe, passing safety measures established 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.

What will the positive impact be?

“We’re proud to be the first hotel group to feature a selection of environmentally-safe sun products throughout our organisation. We undertook extensive research in selecting the best products on the market that are not only good for the land and ocean but good for us too”

Anna Bjurstam, wellness pioneer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

“We know that what we put on our skin ends up in our bodies. Many studies around the world have examined sunscreen use, and the results have shown that significant penetration of toxic chemicals agents into the skin can result in cancer,”

“It was our goal in mandating that all hotels and resorts use the new products that we provide our guests with the healthiest sun products available and that we do the right thing for the earth too.”
Anna Bjurstam, wellness pioneer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

Six Senses has engaged with a dozen brands and over 50 products that meet the established criteria for environmental and human health, with the list growing as more products are found.

Six Senses is hoping to use this initiative to not only create an environment of safety for biological communities but also as a learning environment for guests as they become more aware of safer options.

Guests will be communicated with before arrival, informing them of the group’s commitment and suggesting options for use during their stay.

Guest who go scuba diving will also be educated by the Green Fins material that will be installed in all diving shops.

Green Fins is a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Regional Seas program tool for sustainable tourism in dive operations and water behaviour that strives to ensure the conservation of coral reefs.

All of the new high-quality sun products will be available for guests to purchase at all Six Senses spas and boutiques.

Find out more at

Six Senses Laamu, Maldives

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.