When you’re buying a product to protect your skin from the sun, do you check to see if it’s an environmentally friendly sunscreen?
While sunscreen products are great for keeping sun rays from harming our skin, they can be really harmful to the environment.
Environmentally Friendly Sunscreen Products
Certain chemicals have been proven to be dangerous for the wildlife, especially the aquatic one.
When dealing with such a problem, the solution is not to give up on using the product, especially when referring to sunscreen. Finding alternatives is a great way of taking care of your skin and of the environment.
Environmentally friendly sunscreen products are usually made with ingredients that protect your skin and do not have dangerous side effects on nature.
Going for an environmentally friendly sunscreen can have some great benefits for you and the environment.
Benefits of using an environmentally friendly sunscreen
Takes care of the environment
Some ingredients in conventional sunscreen products can interfere with nature and its flora and fauna.
It may affect their health, development in time, or even contribute to their health.
If you’re thinking that you’re not applying too much sunscreen on you, think about all the sources where these products come from when they reach wild waters.
First of all, there are beaches filled with tourists. All of them are wearing sunscreen, different products from different brands. When they enter the water, the sunscreen starts to slowly dissolve and enters the water.
The second category consists of those who are not on the beach, but wear sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun during their everyday activities.
At the end of the day, they go home and take a shower. The sunscreen that remained on their skin is washed away down the drain. The wastewater now contains remainings of sunscreen and it continues its road until it will probably reach wild waters.
With millions of people applying sunscreen every day, it’s understandable how and why this has become such a big environmental problem.
Using an environmentally friendly sunscreen can help you take care of the environment.
These products are made with ingredients that are safer and healthier. I’ll tell you more about what you want to look for in such products in the following section.
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Protects your skin from dangerous sun rays
When it comes to sunrays and their effects, you don’t want to play around and hope you won’t get burnt.
Your skin needs protection against the sun rays and you want to make sure you’re giving it.
An environmentally friendly sunscreen can protect the environment and your skin at the same time.
What you want to be careful at is that you pick a product that offers both UVA and UVB protection.
UVA rays are the ones that penetrate deep in your skin and cause accelerated skin aging. UVB rays are the ones that cause skin burns.
You want to go for both of them because your skin needs both short-term and long-term protection.
Sunburns are painful and really unpleasant, but they pass in time.
You cannot prevent the skin’s aging process while staying exposed unprotected to UVA and UVB rays.
Environmentally friendly sunscreen products can help you maintain a healthy beautiful skin for a long period of time.
How sunscreen products affect the environment?
Sunscreen products end up in both salted and sweet waters. This means that they can be found in lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans.
Because they are so widely spread, they affect different species of aquatic plants and animals. More ‘victims’ mean more environmental problems.
Sunscreen compounds are easily dissolved in fish
Research has shown that chemicals found in sunscreen can be harmful to fish. A study showed that fish from German lakes had higher concentrations of sunscreen ingredients inside their bodies than in the water.
This happens because these chemicals dissolve more easily in fats and oils than in water. This makes the bodies of different fish species the perfect environment. Fish is rich in fats and oils so it is very likely for them to absorb sunscreen compounds, if they come in contact with them.
Once they are absorbed into the body, these compounds can also affect its normal functioning. Some compounds have the ability to mimic estrogen, a hormone that affects reproduction.
What’s important to keep in mind here is the concentration the fish are exposed to. This can vary and can highly influence how these creatures are affected.
In some areas, there may be more sunscreen compounds in the water, while in others, the concentrations may be really lower.
Some sunscreen chemicals are lethal for coral reefs
Sunscreen has been to shown to be toxic for coral reefs. Certain active agents such as oxybenzone contribute to them bleaching and affecting their growth and reproduction process.
Approximately 6.000 tons of sunscreen enter waters with coral reefs every year. You can imagine now what huge quantities of chemicals reefs face.
Studies have shown that even small doses of oxybenzone can be harmful to coral reefs.
Areas with coral reefs are highly sought by tourists. This means that concentrations tend to be higher in these areas that are constantly visited by people.
Exposure to oxybenzone makes coral lose some of their precious nutrients. Their colors fade away and they bleach, becoming white.
The chemical also interferes with their reproduction. It makes them lose this ability to reproduce, which leads to the creation of ‘zombie’ corals. They become sterile and eventually die.
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How to take care of nature without giving up sunscreen
Pay very much attention to the product you’re buying
Oxybenzone is the chemical that has been linked to all of these problems. It’s used in a great number of sunscreen products, but fortunately, not in all of them.
Sunscreen products are usually divided into two big categories, based on their active ingredients: chemical and physical sunscreen products.
The active ingredients are the ones that do the hard work of protecting you from the sun rays.
Chemical sunscreen products have oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate as active ingredients.
Physical sunscreen products use zinc oxide or titanium oxide as active ingredients.
As opposed to oxybenzone, the active ingredients in physical sunscreen products have not been found harmful to coral reefs. They can be a safer alternative for the environment and can still offer you the protection you need.
Buying environmentally friendly sunscreen products means you want to be very careful about checking the ingredients list.
Looking for certain ingredients, reading the product descriptions, and product reviews are important details you want to pay attention to. They can give you enough information about the product and help you make a smart purchasing decision.
Choose the product with the right label
You’ve seen that products nowadays have different labels: ‘healthy’, ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘eco-friendly’.
They can make you feel safe and that you are making a healthy decision for you and for the environment.
Not all labels mean the same thing for you and for nature. Products that are healthy for you may not be so healthy for the environment.
When you’re looking for an environmentally friendly sunscreen, besides looking at its ingredients and characteristics, you may want to look at its labels.
If it says it’s ‘reef safe’ and ‘eco-friendly’, you should be in the right place.
You want to be careful with these details because they define the product and tell you if it is what you are looking for or not.
Buy sunscreen products before you go on vacation
When you are preparing yourself for a vacation, especially one that takes you in a very sunny place, sunscreen is one of the things you don’t want to forget at home.
You may say that if this happens, you will buy a product from where you’re going.
Because sunscreen pollution has risen in the past years, some areas (especially those with coral reefs) promote or sell only reef-safe products.
Yet, this is not a mandatory measure in all parts of the world where coral reefs can be found. This means that, if you’re not careful, you may be buying a product that is not very safe and healthy.
Buying an environmentally friendly sunscreen while you’re still at home gives you time to search for the right product. You can look in different stores (physical and online), see where you find the best deal.
It’s like when you are looking for the best feminine wash for pH balance. You want to find the product that suits you, so you take some time to look for it.
Additional tips to protect your skin from the sun
Cover your skin with clothes
Wearing clothes is the best way to protect your skin from the sun.
Sunscreen products can be really amazing, but they cannot compete with the protection that clothes offer.
This can be a great method to limit the amount of sunscreen you put on your skin. If you want to walk on the beach or take a swim, just wear a T-shirt and you’re ready to go.
Pay attention to the material the clothes are made of. Natural fibers such as cotton are wonderful during hot periods because they let your skin breathe.
The last thing you want is a shirt that will make you feel hot and sweaty.
Also, go for light colors as they will not make you heat up.
Avoid sunbathing during peak hours
Sunbathing can be really beneficial for you if done properly.
There are certain hours when you do not want to stand too long in the sun. Between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., the UV light is at its highest power.
You may want to plan other activities, especially if you are on vacation with your children.
You may not feel it at that moment, but staying in the sun for too long during that period may affect your body.
Keep your body hydrated
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
You need to keep your skin healthy from the inside and the outside.
The environmentally friendly sunscreen does its job on the outside; you help it with the inside part.
Drinking enough water (all the time, but especially when the temperatures are really high) helps you maintain a healthy beautiful skin.
It also keeps you going, gives you energy boosts and a feeling of freshness.
Besides drinking enough water, you may want to increase the consumption of foods that are rich in water. Here are a few examples and their water content percentage:
- watermelon (92%)
- lettuce (96%)
- cucumber (95%)
- cabbage (92%)
- celery (95%)
- zucchini (94%)
- tomatoes (94%)
- bell peppers (92%)
- cauliflower (92%)
- coconut water (95%)
Use a lotion or moisturizer to hydrate your skin
The after-beach routine is as important as the one you do before you go in the sun.
After staying in the sun, your skin may be a little weakened and need a little help to recover.
This is when lotions and moisturizers come into the discussion. They help restore moisture into the skin and keep it hydrated, even after a day in the sun.
What’s also great about them is that you can either buy such a product or you can make one on your own.
For such a homemade product, you will need:
- 3 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa butter
- 1 tablespoons of olive oil
- 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)
Heat up the coconut oil until it melts. Do the same with the cocoa butter. Let them cool off.
Mix the ingredients together until you obtain a beautiful creamy paste. Put that in a jar or in any other recipient and use it after sun exposure.
You may not have to apply too much product on your skin, as the cream is really rich and nutritious.
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