Until I read an article in the Guardian last year I had absolutely no idea just how bad sunscreen can be for the environment. I guess it’s not something you really thing about, if you’re putting something on your skin, you don’t really expect it to be harmful to anything else.

Sunscreens are damaging our oceans

The chemicals contained in traditional sunscreens are causing damage to our oceans and the species that reside in them.

“As people become more aware of the damage the sun can do to unprotected skin more and more of us are buying sunscreens to ensure a safe tan. However we rarely consider the problems the lotions can do when they come into contact with marine wildlife and habitats.” – Marine Conservation Society

New studies show that Oxybenzone, a UV-filtering chemical compound found in 3,500 brands of sunscreen worldwide, is toxic to coral and contributing to the decline of reefs around the world. The highest concentrations of oxybenzon were found around coral reefs popular with tourists, particularly those in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Charlotte Vøhtz, founder of Green People, commented:

 “It is estimated that 10,000 tons of UV filters are produced annually. On average about 25% of the sunscreen ingredients applied to skin are released in the water over the course of a 20 min submersion.

Gender-bending chemicals that mimic the effect of oestrogen are common in sunscreens and can have a dramatic effect on aquatic life, for example turning fish into hermaphrodites ed-italia.com. Certain sunscreens promote viral infections in coral reefs, potentially playing an important role in coral bleaching in areas with low water renewal where many tourists visit.” – Green People

The Truth about Waterproof

Lots of people choose to use waterproof sunscreen with the belief that it stays on longer, particularly if your going for a swim. But “whilst a waterproof sun lotion may keep your protection in place whilst in the water, using them is actually like wrapping your skin in cling film” – Green People. Waterproof sun creams cling to your skin despite prolonged contact with water because they contain a combination of synthetic chemicals, such as silicones and petrochemicals which are derived from crude oil… nice!

In the USA, the terms ‘waterproof’ or ‘sweat proof’ have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration to help prevent damage by excessive sun exposure. It is thought that people fail to reapply sun lotion throughout the day, under the illusion that ‘waterproof’ means 100% protection – it definitely doesn’t, and you should ensure you reapply sunscreen every couple of hours.

Environmentally Friendly Sunscreen

Those clever people at organic beauty brand Green People have been working closely with the Marine Conservation Society to develop organic, environmentally friendly sunscreens that still provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.

I love Green People’s range of natural sun lotion and after sun products because they have a wide selection of products available. Often in high street stores you can only find one environmentally friendly sunscreen in one size whereas at Green People you have a really great choice between sizes and SPF level. It’s not just sun lotion either, they have natural after sun, sunless tanners, tan accelerators, face specific lotions and children’s lotions. Not only are environmentally friendly sunscreens better for our oceans, they are kinder to our skin too; I’ll definitely be swapping my traditional sunscreen for  a natural version on my next trip!


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