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Why Natural Sunscreen Is Better For You And The Ocean

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Oceanspire products contain natural mineral based SPF

Sunscreen. We all use it. Or at least we should be.

A Brief History on Sunscreen & SPF

Sunscreen has been around in one form or another since the 1900s but according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, we've been using sunscreen in the form of zinc oxide for centuries. It wasn't until the 1940s that Coppertone began to develop their sunscreen using a combination of petroleum based ointment mixed with cocoa butter and coconut oil. In the late 1970’s the sun protection factor (SPF) was formalized. SPF actually refers to how long you can be in the sun for without burning. An SPF of 20 means you can stay in the sun 20x longer and stay protected than if you were not wearing any sunscreen at all.

The Introduction of Chemical Ingredients

In the late 1980s, UV light research led sunscreen companies to start using ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone in their products with the aim of increasing protection from UV rays. Turns out this wasn’t the greatest advancement in sunscreen because now, years later, a lot of research is coming out about just how harmful these chemical ingredients have been on our health since they’re absorbed through the skin. Concerns like hormonal disruption, risk to developing fetuses, reproduction and even links to skin cancer just to name a few.

So now we know the harmful effects that chemical based sunscreen has on humans, but what about how it’s impacting the ocean?

What Chemical-Based Sunscreen is Doing to The Ocean

Chemical based sunscreen has significant impacts on coral reef health and their reproduction. They damage the structure of coral DNA and worsen the effects of coral bleaching. Not only are these chemicals harming our corals but they’re also causing harm to a slew of marine life including, sea urchins, algae, dolphins and fish. They’re causing problems like decreased fertility, impaired growth and reduced fertility.

It’s estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the ocean each year. It’s caused so much damage to some reefs that places like Hawaii, US Virgin Islands and Key West have completely banned toxic chemical based sunscreens.

It’s good to note that chemical based sunscreen can still enter the ocean even if you’re not at a beach. Things like taking a shower, washing your hands or face, sunscreen still makes its way through the water system and into the ocean.

How do you know if a sunscreen is chemical free and reef friendly?

Avoid sunscreens with any of the following listed ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone

  • Octinoxate

  • Octocrylene

  • Homosalate

  • PABA

  • Parabens

  • Triclosan

  • Benzophenone

  • Methylbenzylidene camphor

  • Benzylidene camphor

What’s the solution?

The first step is to become aware and know that there are two types of sunscreens. Chemical (synthetic) and Mineral (physical).

The best sunscreen that’s both safe for humans and the ocean are mineral based sunscreens. Mineral sunscreen acts as a physical sun protection as its particles physically block your skin from the sun. They use ingredients like zinc oxide that creates a barrier to block the rays from your skin.

Mineral Based Sunscreens Can Still Cause Harm

It’s important to note that zinc oxide can still damage marine life if it’s not non-nano zinc oxide. Non-nano zinc oxide has particles that are large enough as to not absorb into the skin or cause harm to marine life.

We’ve Got This!

Coral reefs play an extremely crucial role in our everyday life by supplying our seafood with their ecosystem and food source. By becoming aware and making the change to switch to chemical-free based sunscreen, we can protect ourselves and the ocean life. We truly have the power to make a difference and allow coral reefs to thrive.


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