Covering our skin in sun cream has for decades been our go-to summer essential. Yet, what if we told you this healthy ritual is damaging our planet? How can we easily protect ourselves and our treasured ocean space?
For so long, we’ve been told of the importance of slathering sun cream onto our skin to protect our bodies from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Yet, recent scientific research has acknowledged that despite saving our skin, sun cream is also killing the ocean environment.
What makes sun creams so harmful?
Traditional sun creams contain a chemical known as oxybenzone, which has been found to pose a harmful threat to coral. About twenty-five per cent of our toxic sun creams wash off in the ocean leaving lustrous sheens that are toxic to fragile exotic reefs.
Chemical suncreams absorb UV rays and some of its chemical formulant can destroy coral DNA and as such kill marine life and stunt the growth of any developing coral. Even the smallest amounts of this chemical protector – about a drop in six and a half Olympic swimming pool – can have detrimental consequences to the surrounding environment.
How can we tell this toxicity is happening?
This rising concern became apparent when researchers analysed beaches that were dominated by tourists and compared them to bays still hidden away from tourist traffic. The areas where sunseekers - drenched in sun cream - would travel, in turn saw sterile dying coral.
These tropical tourist hotspots are for example, the Great Barrier Reef where nearly two million tourists travel every year. It attracts such quantities of people because of its unique and colourful ecosystem - everyone wants to catch a glimpse of its beauty. Yet, is our desire for a wonderful getaway killing nature’s exotic enchantment?
Is sun cream really the only thing to blame?
Although it’s apparent the harmful ingredients in sun creams affects our ocean environments, should we not be focusing on the bigger picture?
Climate change is becoming an unprecedented threat. And one that we must act upon as quickly as possible. At a time where the problem seems so overwhelming and a positive turnaround out of our hands; in fact, making a small change (like your sun cream) is the only thing we can do. Although, we can’t personally stop the damage that is affecting the reefs, updating our sun care routines could help to improve the overall process.
What is the solution?
An alternative solution to chemical sun cream is a biodegradable option. It’s made with zinc oxide or titanium oxide to reflect UV rays. This alternative sun cream isn’t a new invention; it’s been around for years yet fell out of fashion because of the chalky white stain left on your skin after its application.
Despite it’s not-so-fashionable-beach-look, biodegradable sun cream is effectively absorbed into the skin immediately after its application. Compared to traditional chemical formulas, which can take at least fifteen minutes for the skin to absorb, a biodegradable option seems like a sensible product for all the family and the environment.
This not so common sun cream will soon become the more popular option, as countries and brands start to steer away from the chemical formula. For example, Hawaii has become the first US state to ban sun creams containing the harmful oxybenzone chemical in a bid to save its tropical ocean environment.
Deciding to go eco-friendly can sometimes seems like a challenge. A lot of products are labelled organic or good for your skin, but which one do you choose? Don't worry, we are here to help.
We’ve rounded up some of the latest high-street offerings, to show you that staying safe in the sun and saving the environment is possible....and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Clinique, Mineral Sunscreen Fluid for Face, £22
This light-weight formula containing SPF 50 is an excellent every day shield against the sun’s UV rays. The oil-free fluid makes this a wonderful solution to almost all skin types, that will leave barely any trace. So, come summer or winter, you’re sure to be protected.
Tropic Skincare, Skincare Sun Balm, £16
This water-resistant balm contains SPF 50 with zinc oxide as its main ingredient.
A compact size makes this herbal formula easy to carry around in your bag. So, for those hotter than expected summer days (unbelievably rare in the U.K, but we like to be optimistic) you know you’re ready to top up when you need it.
Glossier, Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen, £20
A water gel formula that will easily absorb into your skin creating an invisible shield with almost no residue or white marks. It’s packed with SPF 30 and is the perfect every day sun solution.
Applying sun cream has amazing benefits for your skin, as well as helping to prevent ageing or skin cancer, and now there can also be a positive environmental impact too. Having a suncream routine is a great place to start, and if you’re looking for new ways to feel inspired about helping your skin why not discover our blog on skin-care resolutions here.