How much are you really harming our environment when you put sunscreen on your skin? Sunscreen is pretty much a necessity when it comes to braving sunny days out. Still, aside from the principal ingredients, many other chemicals in these products are possibly toxic to our aquatic ecosystems. Read on to find out more.
There are different types of sunscreens in the shop. Perhaps it’s worth taking a look at them in more detail to broaden your understanding.
Chemical sunscreens – these products are absorbed into your bloodstream via your skin, with a chemical reaction taking place. The chemical reaction absorbs the ultraviolet radiation as energy, diffusing it as heat. The chemicals are connected to hormone disruption as well as coral reef bleaching, which is concerning for our environment. Sunscreen businesses usually mix active chemical ingredients with minerals such as zinc in order to offer better protection. So, when purchasing a bottle of sunscreen, ensure that the only active ingredient is stated as zinc oxide (non-nano).
Mineral sunscreens – these types of sunscreens comprise both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and sit on the surface of your skin. Despite this, only zinc oxide offers both UVB and UVA broad spectrum protection. This zinc constructs a physical layer on the surface of your skin, blocking harmful ultraviolet rays. Zinc oxide is stable in chlorine (making it great in swimming pools!) and won’t disintegrate to trigger skin irritation, hormone complications, or harmful free radicals. In contrast to chemical sunscreens, this substance in large non-nano particles does not absorb into your bloodstream.
How Do Coral Reefs Fit Into All of This?
You may know by now that coral reefs are actually on the decline all over the world, making up less than a mere 1% of our ocean floor. Their importance cannot be understated, acting as the shelter and food for over 1 million marine species across the globe. This is why preserving them is so crucial – something that sunscreens are not doing at all.
The ingredients you can find in everyday household products rinse off from human bodies and end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans. The toxic chemical ingredients leach into our waters and coral reefs from swimmers as well as sewage. Thus, worldwide, more than 14 thousand tons of harmful sunscreen liquid enter the ocean every year.
Let’s take the example of Hawaii. Around 6 thousand tons of sunscreen liquid enter Hawaii’s ocean every single year. Leaders have concentrated on one chemical among a handful of concerning ingredients: an ultraviolet filter, oxybenzone. Hawaii has banned this filter after reflecting on the harmful environmental impact of sunscreen. Furthermore, Palau created broader restrictions on sunscreen products containing various chemicals, and other areas also have similar bans.
Therefore, it’s apparent that it is down to us as a society to make straightforward modifications in our daily skincare routines. By being conscious of these choices, we can protect ourselves as well as our oceans. Many things are out of our control but controlling our skincare habits is not one of these.
How Can You Start Making a Change?
Read the label’s ingredients – before buying a sunscreen, take a look at what it contains and stay clear of harmful components, such as oxybenzone. Choose brands that contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide instead.
Stay away from sprays – lotions are a much better choice than aerosol sprays when it comes to protecting our environment. While sprays may be convenient and easy to apply, the sprayed contents could miss our skin and end up on the sand, finally getting washed up and ending in the ocean.
Wear some UV-protected garments – wearing any type of clothing with UV protection can significantly decrease the amount of sunscreen product you must apply. Whether you choose to wear a hat, shirt, trousers, shorts, or vests, you should purchase some UV-protected garments to create optimal sun protection.
Coral reefs are critical to our marine environment, and it’s evident that chemical sunscreen is having a negative impact on them. Thus, we need to change our skincare routines now!
Next, from a marketing perspective, we can see that businesses selling non-toxic products are more likely to succeed than those that don’t. After all, consumers are starting to shy away from oxybenzone-based products.
Finally, we can learn that we don’t need to harm the environment to protect ourselves. Simply choosing an eco-friendlier product will save both your skin and our ecosystem today!