Why is eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen important?
Eco-friendly sunscreen is formulated to be safe for ocean and marine life. Many conventional sunscreens contain chemicals that can be harmful to aquatic ecosystems when they wash off the skin and enter the water. These chemicals can have negative impacts on coral reefs and other marine life, including coral bleaching and damage to the reproductive systems of fish and other marine animals.
When coral reefs are exposed to high concentrations of these chemicals, they can become stressed and release the algae that live within their tissues. This process, known as coral bleaching, results in the coral losing its vibrant colors and becoming more vulnerable to disease. Coral reefs that experience bleaching are less able to perform important ecosystem functions, such as providing habitat for marine life and protecting coastlines from storms and erosion.
Coral bleaching is a major concern because it can lead to the death of coral reefs and the loss of the many benefits they provide. Coral reefs are home to a diverse array of marine life and are important for the health of the oceans. They also provide important economic benefits, such as tourism and fishing. The loss of coral reefs can have significant impacts on the health of the oceans and the people and animals that depend on them.
In addition to the direct impacts on coral reefs and marine life, the chemicals in sunscreens can also have indirect impacts on the environment. For example, the chemicals in sunscreens can enter the food chain and accumulate in the tissues of fish and other marine animals, which can lead to negative impacts on the health of these animals and the overall health of the ecosystem.
The chemicals found in some conventional sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been shown to have negative impacts on the reproductive systems of fish and other marine animals. This can lead to population declines and a decrease in the overall health of the oceans.
Sunscreen chemicals can enter the food chain when they wash off the skin and enter the water. Once in the water, these chemicals can be absorbed by marine plants and animals and accumulate in their tissues. This process, known as biomagnification, can lead to the concentration of these chemicals increasing as they move up the food chain.
For example, small fish and other marine animals may ingest the chemicals when they consume water or food contaminated with these substances. As the chemicals accumulate in their tissues, they can be passed on to larger predatory fish and other marine animals when they are eaten.
Safer for skin
In addition to its environmental benefits, eco-friendly sunscreen may also be safer and more gentle on the skin. Many conventional sunscreens contain chemical blockers, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can be absorbed into the skin and potentially cause irritation or other adverse reactions. Eco-friendly sunscreens, on the other hand, often use physical blockers, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun’s rays, rather than being absorbed into the skin.
Eco-friendly sunscreen is also important because it helps to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is generated. Many conventional sunscreens come in non-recyclable packaging, which contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution. Eco-friendly sunscreens, on the other hand, often come in recyclable or biodegradable packaging, which can help to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills and the environment.
What is eco-friendly sunscreen made of?
Eco-friendly sunscreen is typically made with natural, biodegradable ingredients that are safe for the environment and marine life. These ingredients may include:
- Zinc oxide: A natural mineral that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. It sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun’s rays, rather than being absorbed into the skin.
- Titanium dioxide: Another natural mineral that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. It works by reflecting the sun’s rays away from the skin.
- Natural oils: Such as coconut oil, almond oil, and avocado oil, which can help to nourish and moisturize the skin.
- Plant extracts: Such as aloe vera, green tea, and chamomile, which can have soothing and antioxidant properties.
- Vitamin E: An antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from free radicals and other environmental stressors.
What sunscreen ingredients should you avoid?
Conventional sunscreens are typically formulated with a combination of chemicals that work to absorb or reflect the sun’s rays in order to protect the skin from UV radiation. Avoid sunscreens that contain Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Homosalate and Octocrylene. Some conventional sunscreens may also contain other ingredients, such as fragrances, preservatives, and emollients, which can be irritating to some people. It is always a good idea to read the ingredient list and choose a sunscreen that is formulated with ingredients that are suitable for your skin type and needs.
Environmental Working Group
EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens
- Badger Balm: https://www.badgerbalm.com/collections/mineral-sunscreen
- Raw Elements: https://www.rawelementsusa.com/
- Babo Botanicals: https://www.babobotanicals.com/collections/sun-care
- Alba Botanica: https://www.albabotanica.com/products/category/sun/