How are chemical sunscreens polluting our oceans and our bodies?

Back 2 Nature's biggest passion and intention, is how do we reduce our impact on our oceans, our environment and even the health of our own skin. It's been a pretty simply solution for us... NO chemical ingredients! If you can't eat it, pronounce the word and have no clue what the ingredient is derived from... Well then maybe you should think twice before putting it on your body and effectively going into our waterways, oceans and soil.
One of the biggest concerning products for us, is, is your sun protection product that you use healthy for your skin and healthy for our oceans?
           Image Credits: Shelton Du Preez & Angelique Du Preez

Why are chemical sunscreens harmful to your skin and entire body?

There are two ways in which a sunscreen can protect your skin from sun damage. With a mineral filter and a chemical filter. A mineral filter using natural ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, sit on the surface of the skin and effectively block and reflect out the suns UV rays. A chemical filter absorbs into the skin, absorbing UV rays and then neutralizes them once in the skin. 
However these chemicals that are being absorbed into your skin and even into your tissue and blood, are toxic for your body. Such chemicals are oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Oxybenzone can be detected in urine within 30 minutes of application. With research from a variety of studies, they have proven that these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, estrogenic (which can disrupt the process of reproduction), and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes in the human body, contributing to infertility and diseased sperm. Not to mention a variety of skin allergic reactions to the chemicals. As bizarre as it sounds, the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen according to the FDA, EWG and a variety of other research studies.
So to sum it up... chemical sunscreens are a big no no for the health of your own body!

The Sunshine Vitamin

Considering the idea of wanting to hide from and block out the sun, having a Vitamin D deficiency with a lack of sun exposure could be a bigger problem than being exposed to too much sun. Research has shown that having a Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a variety of deadly cancers, problems during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature labor, osteoporosis, heart disease and the list goes on...
This magical sunshine vitamin has amazing benefits for your body, such as  protecting you against depression, insomnia, and it encourages an overactive immune system guarding off all types of diseases and illnesses. 
So why not soak up a healthy and safe amount of sunshine each day!
Your body can't get the sufficient amount of vitamin D it needs just from food. The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). When the sun's UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place that enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. Depending on your skin type, the season, time of day and where you live in the world, is dependent upon how much Vitamin D you need and how long you need to spend in the sun to get the sufficient amounts. 

Why are chemical sunscreens harmful to our Oceans?

 The chemical ingredients in some sunscreens are causing catastrophic effects on our oceans, mostly to coral reefs. The leading toxic ingredient is oxybenzone. These chemical compounds have the ability to awaken dormant viruses in symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae. These Zooxanthellae algae provide food and color to the coral, at the same time providing oxygen to the oceans. Sunscreen chemicals cause the dormant viruses in these Zooxanthellae to replicate until the algae host dies. This then causes the coral to starve to death. The visible symptoms of this rapid process is shown through whats called coral bleaching. With the corals skeleton being visible, as the the algae is no longer alive nor there to provide color for the coral. Oxybenzone is genotixic, meaning that it can damage coral DNA as well as induces severe and lethal deformities. Resulting in reefs that look “healthy but are actually sterile and dead—so they cannot reproduce.” Dr. Craig Downs, forensic ecotoxicologist. 
It is estimated that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen is deposited in the world’s oceans each year. As if all the millions of tons of plastic wasn't enough...

    Image credits: (2) Reuters 

"Oxybenzone is not only toxic to corals. It’s toxic to algae, sea urchins, fish and mammals. It inhibits embryonic development in sea urchins. It can result in gender shifts in fish, in which male fish take on female attributes, while females have reduced egg production and embryo hatchings. In mammals it has been demonstrated to be a potential mutagen (changes genetic material) and to exhibit pro-carcinogenic activity. Both dolphin and human mothers can transfer oxybenzone to their infants via breastmilk."Dr. Craig Downs.
GREAT news! The world is taking action to eliminate these toxic sunscreens!
Thankfully some nations are acknowledging the huge effects of these chemicals on the oceans marine life and have banned products with these ingredients.  This regulation has been in place for almost 10 years in Mexico’s ecoreserves, including Xcaret and Xel-Há and Hawaii has recently banned the sale or distribution of any sunscreen containing oxybenzone or octinoxate from 2021. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the move will ban "at least 70% of the sunscreens on the market today". 
Now we just need to cheer on the rest of the world to do the same! 

Just because its natural or organic, doesn't mean that it is good for the environment... Know your natural ingredients which are!

A number of plant-based oils can be toxic to reef organisms, especially arthropods. Such natural ingredients are neem, eucalyptus and lavender oils, which are effective ingredients for insect repellents or insecticides, suggesting they may also have increased relative toxicity to invertebrates. Beeswax is often found in natural, organic sunscreens, however can be contaminated with a variety of industrial fungicides and insecticides, effectively having a toxicity.
Mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can also be a worrisome ingredient if it is uncoated and nano-size (less than 35 nanometers in diameter), they can enter the cells of invertebrates and cause oxidative stress in sunlight. This causes the cells to blow up and effectively die. The best option is to use coated, non-nano ingredients larger than 150 nanometers. Dr. Downs suggests that with non-nano the toxicity decreases and that there is very little threat. 

Reference "Downs CA, Kramarsky-Winter E, Segal R, et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter,Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 2015 Oct 20. doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7.", Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, Article: "Most Sunscreens Can Harm Coral Reefs. What Should Travelers Do?" February 19 2018. Article by, Kelly Franklin, North America editor. 9 May 2018.

The Environmental Working Group:, Vitamin D Council