Eco-Friendly Sunscreen that Protects and Supports the Eco-System

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Eco-Friendly Sunscreen that Protects and Supports the Eco-System

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Although there is some debate, it’s almost universally agreed that people should wear sunscreen to protect against the harmful rays of the sun that can cause wrinkles, leathery tans and skin cancer. But did you know that while you’re protecting yourself, you could be harming the ecosystem, including coral reefs and the animals that call them home? This is why it’s important to choose an  eco-friendly sunscreen that’s also effective.

Chemicals in sunscreen have been found to bleach coral reefs, making them die off and become uninhabitable for the sea creatures that dwell within them. Ironically enough, it’s these same chemicals, parabens, cinnamates, and benzophenones in sunscreen that harm the coral reefs which are often blamed for harming human health as well. An eco-friendly sunscreen and skincare products that contain natural ingredients don’t contain environmentally damaging chemicals.

A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives revealed that when exposed to benzophenone or cinnamate-based sunscreens, coral developed viral infections that led to bleaching. The Green Guide reveals that seventy-eight million tourists visit areas with coral reefs every year, leaving behind 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen, and since many sunscreens are petroleum-based, they don’t break down quickly in water. Not only that, but neither do these chemicals protect against UVA rays, which may do at least as much damage to your skin as UVB rays.

When you choose an eco-friendly sunscreen it needs to block both UVA and UVB rays to be effective. Protecting against both UVA and UVB rays is more important than the SPF number. SPF number stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures protection against UVB rays. However, there is some wiggle room and a higher number doesn’t necessarily mean better protection. Instead, to prevent skin damage and cancers, you want to protect yourself against both types of harmful UV rays.

Sunscreen uses either chemicals or minerals to create a barrier of protection from the sun. Chemical ingredients are found in the most easily available sunscreens. Physical sunscreens are minerals that create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. They tend to appear stark white when applied, and so are less popular than their chemical counterparts, but are considered eco-friendly sunscreens.  Newer formulations combine physical ingredients with other elements to help them blend in better with a greater variety of skin tones.

The FDA has approved 17 ingredients as effective sunscreen protection. They include many chemical barriers as well as physical ingredients. Although both versions are acceptable by the FDA’s standards, the Environmental Working Group has tested many of the chemical sunscreens and found them to be possible hormone disrupters. Therefore, you want to use a physical eco-friendly sunscreen formulation to protect against the harmful rays of the sun and possible biological harm from chemicals.

The effect these chemicals have on human health, based on the damage they do to coral reefs, is documented by scientists and doctors. Instead of the chemical sunscreens, try mineral options, which use titanium dioxide (controversial ingredient) and zinc oxide to block both UVB and UVA rays. Sites like the Environmental Working Group’s Annual Sunscreen Guide allow you to check the safety of your sunscreen by looking up either the brand name or active ingredients.

As the days grow longer and warmer and you prepare to spend more time in the sun, make sure your sunscreen is safe for your family.

To learn more about eco-friendly, sustainable products and living a healthy lifestyle, explore our fashion & beauty articles, or other articles on a wide variety of topics.

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