We all know that it’s important to wear sunscreen, so much so that we’ve incorporated SPF into our daily skin care routine and we just figured out how to reapply sunscreen without messing up our makeup. And yet, despite all of the good sunscreen does in protecting our skin, it’s also causing a lot of damage to the world around us.
Recently, researchers have voiced concerns about the harmful effects of chemical sunscreens on human health and the environment. Specifically, two of the most popular ingredients in chemical sunscreens — Oxybenzone and Octinoxate — have been shown to cause significant damage to coral reefs. A recent study revealed that about 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in reefs worldwide, which can lead to bleaching, damaged DNA and abnormal skeleton growth in coral. The concern is so serious that some places ― including the state of Hawaii ― are now banning the sale and distribution of sunscreens with those chemicals.
It’s a big problem: We want to protect the oceans, but we also want to protect our skin. Wearing SPF every day is the best way to defend ourselves against those bad UVA and UVB rays. While no single sunscreen will fix all of our problems, the best option at the moment for eco-conscious beachgoers is to swap out those chemical sunscreens for what are known as physical sunscreens — i.e. ones with mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that reflect the sun off your skin, without threatening the environment.
Unfortunately, finding sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate that are still effective at dulling the sun’s harmful rays is way more complicated than it should be. Even the product review experts at Consumer Reports say they haven’t found a mineral formula in their six years of testing that provides substantial UVA and UVB protection and meets the sunscreen’s labeled SPF.
octinoxate / ethylhexyl