Chemical sunscreens are bad for oceans, but are they bad for us also?
Posted: Feb 11 2021
An FDA audit has found chemicals like oxybenzone found in most chemical sunscreens have been found to enter the blood stream when applied affecting hormones such as testosterone, all the while mutating coral reefs. Furthermore it has proven false claims false claims by sunscreens claiming to be SPF60+
Consumer advocacy groups along with bodies like the FDA and TGA (Australia) audited sunscreens on the market in 2019 and found that up to two thirds of products are making false claims around their level of protection. The Environmental Working Group reported that over 60% of the products tested did not offer adequate sun protection contained potentially harmful chemicals and would therefore not meet the FDA’s safety guidelines.
More recently the FDA has been examining the effects of common sunscreen chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene. It was found that these chemicals are absorbed into the blood stream and remain there for at least 24 hours after application, even after just one use. Not only that, the most common of those chemicals, Oxybenzone is known to damage the DNA of coral reefs, contributing to coral bleaching and other issues in the marine eco system. Read more on that on our blog here.
These harmful chemicals in sunscreens have been linked with lowering testosterone levels in adolescent boys, hormone changes in men, as well as shorter pregnancies and disrupted birth weight in babies. In 2019, around 70% of sunscreens on the market contained oxybenzone often along with potentially harmful chemicals.
A lot of sunscreens on the market were also found to be making false claims around the level of SPF coverage, with many falling short in audits. Often products labelled with SPF60 or higher were unable to demonstrate efficacy greater than products labelled SPF30+ and not all products with SPF ratings also offered a high level of UVA as well as UVB.
It is still advisable to use sun protection at all times when going outdoors, however it’s highly recommended that you seek out natural alternatives with ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead to make sure our bodies and our oceans remain chemical free. It is important to use sunscreens that break down both UVA and UVB rays, or better yet, sunblocks that work as a physical barrier against the rays and do not allow any to penetrate through to the body.
Have you switched to all natural, reef safe yet? 🐢