When hitting the beach, we all know sunscreen is a non-negotiable must-have. Without it, your skin would be at the mercy of the sun’s damaging UV rays. At the very least, you'll get a nasty sunburn. At worse, you'll be at risk of developing melanoma, a fatal type of skin cancer.
But did you know that not all sunscreens are created equal? Some, in fact, cause more harm than they do good – for both your health and the environment.
The Harm of Traditional Sunscreen
A lot of the traditional sunscreens available in the market today contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. When we go out to swim in the ocean with our sunscreen on, it washes off into the water, meaning that these toxins eventually find their way to marine life and coral reefs.
Oxybenzone causes damage to the DNA structure and soft tissues of coral reefs. In response, the coral reef encases itself in its own skeleton, killing it from the inside out.
This is called coral bleaching, and it’s becoming a serious problem. In the Caribbean and Hawaii alone, oxybenzone levels are up to 12 times higher than what is considered the norm.
Why does this matter? Coral reefs are a crucial part of many marine ecosystems. If they die off, all the marine life that depends on them will be at risk too.
How does that affect us? Fish and other marine life from oxybenzone infested waters will inevitably ingest these chemicals. If you do eat fish, you should consider that you are likely also putting these harmful chemicals into our own body.
These harsh chemicals are also harmful to skin and may cause irritations and redness, especially among younger kids. In addition, there’s growing evidence that suggests UV filter chemicals in traditional sunscreen is easily absorbed by the skin and can cause developmental disorders.
The Reef Safe Alternative
Luckily, there are a lot of cruelty-free and reef-safe natural sunscreen options available. One of the best places you can get them is from our own collection of vegan SPF products.
All of our vegan sunscreens are zinc-based SPF products, using zinc oxide as an alternative to oxybenzone. It's a mineral based ingredient which has a mirror-like effect. It reflects harmful UVB and UVA rays from the Sun back into the environment.
Zinc oxide offers other advantages as well. It doesn't penetrate the skin, so there's no harmful effects for the body. Zinc-based SPF products are also less greasy and rub in clear compared to traditional sunscreens. Most are also dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic, making them perfect for sensitive skin.
Best of all, zinc oxide is considered safe for the environment, and will not harm corals and marine life.
Besides vegan sunscreens, we also have other SPF cruelty-free products you can use to protect your skin from the Sun further. One of them is this After Sun Soothing Aloe Gel, which is best used after a long day on the beach. The unique formulation of aloe vera and other natural ingredients work together to soothe parched skin.
We all have a part to play in ensuring the health of our marine ecosystems for future generations. And the easiest way to do this is by switching to a natural, vegan-approved sunscreen. The oceans will thank you for it!
How do you take care of the ocean and the environment? Let us know in the comments below!