When it comes to sunscreen, be sure to read the label.
It’s warming up and the sun is finally out, which means most of us are slathering on some sunscreen to enjoy the weather. However, there’s been some debate over common sunscreens and what they do to the planet and people. Here are a few things you should know before buying a new tube!
Sunscreens were created to protect us, but there’s been evidence that a few chemicals commonly found in conventional sunscreens are harmful to us and the environment. According to numerous studies, Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are the two most common ingredients that have been known to absorb through our skin, enter our bloodstream, and affect our endocrine system. Oxybenzone is also more likely to cause skin irritations and was named 2014’s Allergen of the Year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
When we bathe and swim, the sunscreen on our bodies washes off and eventually enters different bodies of water. Recent studies have shown that these ingredients have affected the conditions of coral reefs all over the world. In 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban sunscreen containing these ingredients since they found significant harmful impacts on marine life and their ecosystems. These chemicals are not solely hurting bodies of saltwater, researchers have found impacts in freshwater lakes and rivers as well as their ecosystems.
Until more research has been conducted, we cannot say for certain the long-term effects these chemicals will have on us or different ecosystems. However, you may want to avoid those types of ingredients and be mindful of what your current sunscreen contains.
It’s now more important than ever for us to protect ourselves from the Sun’s different types of UV rays since the depletion of our ozone layer has made us more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer. When choosing sunscreen, the safest and most effective ingredients for you and the environment are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are both minerals that protect from UVA and UVB by blocking rays before they reach your skin and have not been known to cause damage to the environment. Most sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide will be labeled reef safe, but still check for greenwashing by reviewing the ingredients.
The summer sun is finally out, so let’s recreate responsibility for ourselves and the environment!