Eco-Friendly Sunscreens That You Should Pick Up This Summer
Before we get into the problems that it’s causing, let me start this off by saying that sunscreen is an absolute necessity. Even if you have dark skin or you think you don’t burn very easily, you have to wear sunscreen when it’s bright out.
Skin damage may not be visible, but it is happening. UV rays will affect you no matter what your skin tone is and you need SPF to protect yourself from that. It’s not just skin cancer that’s a problem too.
Sun exposure can lead to your skin aging more quickly, and you could experience things like sagging or hyperpigmentation. And the unfortunate thing is that most of these aren’t really reversible to it’s important to start using sunscreen when you’re young.
That said, a lot of the main sunscreen products out there right now come with side effects. Not side effects for you, for the environment. Especially if you use them at the beach:
Sunscreen and the Environment
The bulk of the problems that sunscreen causes are related to the ocean and more specifically, to the coral reefs. And trust me, the death of coral reefs is going to have more negative effects than just drawing less snorkelers to that part of the water.
Coral reefs support the highest marine biodiversity in the world. A lot of animals rely on the reefs for food and protection and without them, they are going to die off pretty quickly. Quite a few different marine creatures will be affected.
This includes oysters, clams, groupers and many others that are important to the fishing industry of a number of different countries, many of which can be found in the Caribbean. There are several Caribbean countries and islands which rely almost entirely on the fishing industry.
Up to about 40 million people are employed globally in an industry that would be destroyed if we allow the coral reefs to die. Some experts predict that it could have an economic impact of up to $375 billion per year.
There’s a couple of chemicals that are very common in your sunscreen. Most notable among them in relation to this issue are oxybenzone and octinoxate. The effects have been laboratory tested and it’s been determined that they contribute to coral bleaching.
The vast majority of store-bought sunscreens come with these chemicals. If you use them when you’re at the beach all of those chemicals are going to in the air, spreading straight out to the coral reefs.
Although you’ve probably been unaware of it up to this point, you’re contributing to the mass death of our reefs. So what’s the solution?
These problematic chemicals are not really necessary for effective sunscreen. The protection from UV can be achieved by other means. A good reef-safe sunscreen would have particles that would sink to the bottom of the ocean instead of dissolving.
This way they just become apart of the ocean sediment and aren’t any real threat to the coral reef or to any other kinds of marine life. The smaller the particles, the better they are for the oceans.
And if you’re thinking that this is going to reduce the quality of the product in terms of actually protecting you, that’s not something you need to worry about. In fact, it might actually be better for you in the long-term because the smaller particles aren’t absorbed through your skin where they can then find their way to the bloodstream.
Mineral sunscreens are the way to go. The active ingredients present in these kinds tend to be zinc or titanium oxide, which will cause virtually no damage to the coral reefs.
While nanoparticles, which are smaller than 100 nanometers and as such, far too small to be dissolved, they can be harmful to your skin and lungs. Look for a non-nano formula, this is still small enough but also less dangerous.
Before we look at some sunscreen products which fit the bill, it’s worth noting that you skin does need a chance to breathe every once in a while. Constantly using skincare products, sunscreen included, can lead to clogged pores and excessive oil production.
So if you’ve been out enjoying the sun a lot during the summer, maybe consider taking a bit of a break and undergoing a skin fast. But let’s get back to sun protection right now and run through some recommendations:
Amavara Mineral Reef-Safe Sunscreen - SPF 30
All-Terrain Aqua Sport Natural Sunscreen - SPF 30
Klar Biodegradable Reef Safe Sunscreen - SPF 30
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen - SPF 30
Love Sun Body Fragrance-Free - SPF 50
These are some of the best choices out there by respected companies that are committed to ensuring their products have as little effect on our environment as possible and there is also a variety of different SPF levels up there.
The important thing to remember is that when you’re buying you should always check for a label that says ‘mineral’ or ‘reef-safe.’ And also, don’t let the extra effort of seeking out environmentally friendly sunscreen put you off using the stuff altogether, because that’s a decision you are destined to regret.