I do not remember the last time I jumped into the ocean concerned about the type of sunscreen I applied that morning. But as it turns out, concerned is exactly what we need to be. After the FDA announced this spring that it was inquiring into the safety of chemical sunscreens, the conversation has evolved to how its active ingredients are also a big threat to marine life — specifically, coral reefs.
Why Use Non-Toxic Sunscreen?
Chemical SPF uses a wide range of ingredients such as octinoxate, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and more. These chemicals have been found to act as endocrine disruptors, which can harm a body even in small doses, as they mimic the hormones a body makes. These chemicals can be especially dangerous to children, which is why there has been a rise in the production of sunscreen without oxybenzone and octinoxate.
These chemicals are also extremely dangerous for the environment. According to MarineSafe, as many as 82,000 chemicals from personal care products have made their way into the ocean, and in 2015, it was estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen are ending up in coral reefs. This leads to irreparable damage as the sunscreen disrupts the coral’s growth cycles and reproduction, leading to coral bleaching — the main culprits: oxybenzone and octinoxate, main active ingredients in most chemical sunscreens. In fact, around 80 percent of corals in the Caribbean have been lost in the last 50 years.
So, what can we do? Wear non-toxic sunscreen when we hit the beach. And what constitutes as safe? Essentially, mineral sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate that feature zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Learn more sunscreen tips here! Shop our guide for some of the best options easily bought in drugstores.
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