Wearing sunscreen is one of the most promoted methods for sun protection when outdoors and enjoying the ocean.
Our love for swimming means we slather on sunscreen to avoid sunburn, but the chemical remnants floating in the ocean are concerning scientists and environmentalists. This poses the question, is your sunscreen truly ocean friendly?
Each time we take a dip, around 25 percent of the sunscreen we apply is washed off within 20 minutes, contributing to the estimated 6,000 to 14,000 tons circulating coral reefs globally each year.
Scientific research completed by Craig Downs, forensic ecotoxicologist from Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, has discovered oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), an ingredient used in most commercial sunscreens is changing the chemical composition of seawater and harming populated reefs. Its UV-absorbing properties are contributing to coral bleaching, and further effecting reproduction and cell growth causing deformities in young coral.
Research has found even small quantities of the chemical causes harm with toxicity occurring at a concentration of 62 parts per trillion – equivalent to one drop in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools. Samples taken from populated reefs around Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands have discovered current concentrations 12 times the advised toxicity rate, leading Hawaiian authorities to propose a ban on sunscreens containing this chemical.
Researchers still advocate full sun protection to reduce the risk of skin cancer, but advise consumers to be aware of the ingredients in the products they purchase. As additional research emerges, brands are starting to market their sunscreen products as ‘reef friendly’. While there are no current regulations governing this term, researchers warn consumers to not use this as sole verification. Checking the ingredients is the only way to know if a sunscreen won’t harm coral reefs.
You can be ocean and reef friendly by avoiding sunscreens containing oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4MBC; use reef safe sunscreens containing titanium oxide or zinc oxide; and wear appropriate swim and sun safe apparel.
Our pick of ocean friendly sunscreens and zincs
Here are some great options for sun protection while ensuring the ocean is also protected, thanks to Biome.
Wotnot palm oil free natural sunscreen SPF 30 150g
Wotnot SPF 30 palm oil free natural sunscreen provides broad spectrum protection against UV-A and UV-B rays with a gentle, easy to apply formula suitable for all ages (including babies). Enriched with certified organic aloe-vera and gmo-free vitamin E, free from titanium dioxide and chemical UV absorbers. 150g squeeze tube.
Surfpaste SPF30 Tinted Paste 55g
A natural and organic tinted sunscreen for face & lips. Made in Noosa, Queensland on a base of avocado, jojoba and shea butter with beneficial plant nutrients. Helps protect skin and reduce premature aging caused by sun exposure. Vegan and cruelty free. 55g.
Sun & Earth Natural Zinc – Sunny Tan
A completely natural, biodegradable tinted all-day cream, that protects the skin with a zinc sun barrier with SPF 30+. Colour is a medium “Sunny Tan”. Comes in a 50g tin.
For more visit www.biome.com.au/96-natural-sunscreen
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