Most chemical sunscreens and body lotions contain toxic chemicals that when applied prior to entering the ocean can seep into the water. In turn these chemicals damage marine life and their sensitive ecosystem. The threat that sunscreen presents is problematic due to the fact that corals are endangered and also face other pressures due to climate change. The following is information what you can do to be a more environmentally conscious ocean user:
Avoid Chemical Sunscreens
Chemical sunscreens and even body lotions often contain the following ingredients: Retinyl Palmitate, Parabens, Octocrylene, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, Octinoxate and Oxybenzone. These ingredients are toxic to humans with researchers believing that oxybenzone is responsible for disrupting hormones.
For your health and the health of the ocean it is best to read the labels of the creams you already have an avoid applying them before entering the sea.
Avoid Applying Products With Natural Oils
Very few people are aware that even natural oils can be harmful to the marine ecosystem. Some sunscreens and creams contain natural oils like eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender, which can be actually be very damaging to corals.
Opt For Physical Sunscreens
Physical sunscreens usually contain active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate or titanium oxide. These minerals rest on top of the skin and create a physical barrier that deflects damaging UV rays away from the skin. Frequent reapplication is advised, as it does tend to wash off a little quicker than chemical sunscreen, but this is a small sacrifice to make for the greater good of the ocean’s health.
- Effective immediately and do not require you to wait for it to set in like chemical sunscreens
- A better option for consumers with more sensitive skin because they do not cause a stinging sensation
- Protect from both UVA and UVA rays
- The consistency is less greasy/oily therefore is a better option for those with blemish-prone skin
- Last longer than chemical sunscreens when exposed to direct UV sunlight
- Long lasting with an extensive shelf life
- Are often described as thicker and can be leave a white-ish residue making them more difficult to blend with darker skin tones
- Require more frequent reapplication
- Formulas tend to be thinner and are therefore more appealing for daily use
- Damaging to marine life and marine ecosystems
- The chemicals can be toxic for humans
- Can leave a blue/purple haze that is evident when applied to darker skin
- Most sunscreens require you to wait 20 minutes before the sunscreen takes effect
- Creams can be oily and therefore not ideal for blemish prone skin
- Can cause stinging if it gets in your eyes and is therefore challenging for children to wear
- When in direct UV sunlight frequent reapplication is advised because the protection gets used up faster