Your Sunscreen Selection Could Hurt the Coral Reefs

Everyone knows the sun's UV rays are harmful. The common knowledge of sun damage will propel the sun care market to reach $25 billion by 2024. Unfortunately, while protective, sunscreen products can also damage the environment, specifically the reefs.

Experts estimate that nearly 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the ocean annually. The tonnage results from swimmers and excess product rinsed down drains. Additionally, some sunscreens come in aerosol forms. The overspray from aerosols ends up on sandy beaches and washed into the oceans with changing tides.

While sunscreen is essential to maintaining healthy skin, several brands are toxic to marine life. Some governments are working on laws to ban the use of toxic sunscreens. Currently, the primary locations working on bans include:

  • Hawaii 
  • Key west 
  • US Virgin Islands 
  • Palau 
  • Bonaire

The banishment of specific sunscreens is to protect fragile marine life, primarily coral reefs. To some tourists, the banishment of particular products is extreme, but to the local governments, it is essential.

What's the Fuss About Sunscreen? 

The two primary types of sunscreens include mineral (physical) and chemical. A physical sunscreen sits atop the surface of your skin, creating a reflective barrier. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays using synthetic compounds. Both products present challenges and hazards to coral reefs and other marine life.

Chemical sunscreens contain harmful compounds, including Oxybenzone, an ingredient found in more than 3,500 products. The compounds used in chemical sun care products result in several problems, including:

  • DNA damage to corals 
  • Abnormal growth and deformities 
  • Coral bleaching

Additionally, researchers conclude that sunscreen is a contributing factor to coral's increased susceptibility to diseases. In the Caribbean Sea, sunscreen contributes to the prevalence of Stony Coral Tissue Loss disease.

Mineral sunscreens may contain nanoparticles so small they absorb into marine life. Even at lower concentrations, the minerals are toxic, resulting in stress and premature death.

What Can You Do To Protect the Reefs and Marine Life?

The easiest way to protect the oceans and marine life is to avoid using toxic sunscreens. That advice is counter to things you have likely heard, but activity in the sun is safe in small doses. You will want to stay in the shade and cover your skin with adequate protection. Additionally, avoid outdoor activity between 10 am and 2 pm because these are the hours of the harshest UV rays.

When you need to wear sunscreen, research the products you use. You will want to avoid aerosols and products with harmful chemicals, specifically:

  • Octinoxate 
  • Oxybenzone 
  • Octocrylene 
  • Benzophenone-1 
  • Benzophenone-8 
  • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor 
  • OD-PABA 
  • 3-Benzylidene camphor

When choosing a mineral sunscreen, look for one with zinc or titanium oxide. Additionally, you want to find non-nano products.

Finally, look for products that are certified safe for marine life. For example, look for labels with the Protect Land + Sea Certification.

Coral reefs and marine life need your help to survive and thrive. Ensure the products you use and support also support a healthy world for all living things. Also, spread the word about sunscreen products. Every voice can make a difference and help achieve a better world.

4 Reasons Why I Prefer Tinted Sunscreen

To protect your skin, you should use sunscreen every time you go out. Unfortunately, messing around with makeup and sunscreen can also be a hassle, especially when you’re in a hurry to get out the door. The good news is that a relatively simple solution makes life easier and keeps skin safe simultaneously: tinted sunscreen.

What Is Tinted Sunscreen?

As the name suggests, an important part of tinted sunscreens are ingredients that help filter out sunlight. These minerals, mainly titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are the same ones found in traditional sunscreen. They help reflect harmful UV rays.

What makes tinted sunscreen different is the combination of pigments designed to match any skin tone. So whether you’re looking for a rosier or tanner complexion, it’s not hard to find the color you love.

Tinted Sunscreen Versus Beauty Creams and Color-Correction Products

Choosing between beauty creams with SPF-boosting ingredients, tinted sunscreen, foundation, color-correcting creams and other skincare products can be confusing. Each one excels in different areas.

Beauty creams generally provide better hydration and skin-repair ingredients but don’t offer the same UV protection. Ideally, you want an SPF of 30–50 for the face, but many beauty creams only reach SPF 15, which isn’t good enough for something your skin depends on every day.

Color-correcting creams offer maximum complexion control but little help against UV rays. On the other hand, tinted sunscreen provides good coverage and exceptional sun protection, but the tone results don’t quite compare to foundation.

How Safe and Effective Is Tinted Sunscreen?

Tinted sunscreens are just as safe as regular sunscreens. Unless you have an allergy to common ingredients in mascara, beauty products or sunscreen, you shouldn’t have to worry about a thing. Many health professionals and dermatologists, including the Harvard Medical School and the American Academy of Dermatology, recommend using sunscreen for UV protection. Tinted sunscreens are an effective option that can provide several benefits for people with sensitive skin.

Why Use Tinted Sunscreen?

Tinted sunscreens are accessible, convenient and helpful for protecting your skin against sun damage. Here are some of the ways they can help you:

  • Making it easier to wear sunscreen regularly: Applying sunscreen is one of the most important ways to prevent skin cancer. Sadly, it’s easy to overlook when you’re busy. Tinted sunscreens are a breeze to put on, so they may be easier to include in your daily routine.
  • Avoiding the white sheen associated with mineral sunscreens: Many people prefer mineral sunscreens instead of chemical ones, but traditional options leave your skin with a white tinge. Going with tinted sunscreen can give you the beautiful, balanced complexion you want.
  • Reducing dark spots: Unlike chemical sunscreens, tinted sunscreens that contain iron oxide can block visible light, including artificial light. This can help people with skin conditions involving hyperpigmentation, such as being prone to dark spots.
  • Camouflaging blemishes: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to cover blemishes, spots or other imperfections. However, tinted sunscreen products give you the best of both worlds — excellent UV protection and an even skin tone.

What should you look for when selecting brands? Go with something at least SPF 30. Iron oxides offer extra protection against visible light and dark spots. If possible, look for other nourishing skincare ingredients, including moisturizing hyaluronic acid and protective antioxidants like green tea.

Why You Should Never Store Sunscreen in the Car

As ironic as it sounds, sunscreen and sunlight don’t mix. Elevated temperatures cause the ingredients in sunscreen to break down, making it less effective at protecting your skin against UV rays. That SPF 50 suddenly becomes SPF 15 or worse without you knowing. To keep your skin safe, take good care of your sunscreen.

Common Mistakes When Storing Sunscreen

If you’ve ever ended up with a sunscreen that looks like cottage cheese, overheating is the reason why. Here’s how it usually happens:

  • Keeping sunscreen in the car: On paper, this sounds like a great idea. The problem is that vehicle interiors get insanely hot. Comfortable 70-degree weather outside translates to 104 degrees Fahrenheit inside the car, and that’s in just half an hour!
  • Leaving the bottle in direct sunlight: At the beach, some people slap on sunscreen, toss the bottle on top of their towel and jump into the water for a swim. Unfortunately, direct sunlight cooks sunscreen like an egg on the sidewalk.
  • Storing sunscreen near sunny windows: A cool house doesn’t mean sunscreen is safe from the sun’s rays. Keep your sunscreen somewhere else if the sun shines on your desk or nightstand during the day.
  • Forgetting to close the cap: Leaving the sunscreen bottle open can let hot air, bacteria, sand and salt inside. This combination isn’t good for your skin. When sunscreen smells funny or looks yellow instead of white, it’s time to buy a new bottle.

Tips for Keeping Your Sunscreen Cool at the Beach

At home, it’s pretty easy to keep sunscreen at the right temperature. However, things are trickier when planning to spend all day at the lake or the beach. Follow these tips to keep sunscreen cool when it’s blazing hot outside:

  • Wrap the bottle in a towel: Layers help insulate your sunscreen from the sun. Fold the towel in half and wrap away until your bottle is snug as a bug.
  • Use a large tote: Instead of a small purse, opt for your mammoth beach tote with snacks, water, sunglasses and other beach essentials. This gives sunscreen an extra barrier against the sun.
  • Take along a beach umbrella: Shade is your best bet for keeping sunscreen cool. At the lake, set up camp under a shade tree. At the beach, make your own shade with an umbrella. Beach umbrellas also protect your skin if you decide to nap on the sand.
  • Bring the ‘screen with you to the bathroom: If you need to run off to the bathroom, take your sunscreen with you, so it gets a chance to cool off. You need to reapply every few hours anyway.

Every Day Is Skin Protection Day

Using sunscreen every day is a great habit for skin health. At home, store it somewhere easy to reach and comfortably cool, such as a bathroom countertop or bedroom dresser. At the office, keep it in clear view instead of stashing it in a drawer. That way, it’s easier to remember to apply sun protection regularly.

To enhance your barrier against UV rays and keep skin moist, make sure you’re getting plenty of antioxidants. These natural cellular protectors are found in blueberries, black raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, pecans, red cabbage and leafy greens.