Ocean Friendly sunscreen
It is becoming more and more famous and important; sunscreen that will not harm the ocean and coral. The chemical is in 68% of all sunscreen brands oxybenzone. This substance absorbs the UV light, but unfortunately this is also absorbed by the coral as soon as you go into the water, disrupting the coral growth cycle.
The Suntribe brand does not contain any substances that are harmful to the environment, not even any chemicals that can harm people. This means you can go into the sea with peace of mind, without damaging the coral.
Coral friendly sunscreen
On more and more beaches, sunscreen with oxybenzone and other chemicals is no longer allowed. You must use coral friendly sunscreen like Suntribe here.
Currently, 14,000 tons of sunscreen is still washing into the ocean, which can be harmful to nature. By using environmentally friendly sunscreen, this is not a problem, and it will break down on its own.
3 Problems With Unenvironmentally Friendly Sunscreen
- Some ingredients have been proven to be hazardous to humans and harmful to the environment. Let's take two examples: Recent studies have shown a link between the use of chemical sunscreen during pregnancy and rare diseases in the child (DiNardo & Downs 2019) and the correlation between chemical sunscreen use and coral reef bleaching has long been proven (Danovaro 2008, Wood 2018).
- Many ingredients used in cosmetics and sunscreen are still not well rated. This simply means that we really don't know if they are safe to use! Two well-known examples of ingredient categories that were (and still are) in many cosmetics, but are now proven to be harmful, are phthalates and parabens. Let's solve the problem of uncertain ingredients by using those that are proven not to be dangerous instead.
- Cosmetics and sunscreen can be very difficult to understand, and then it can get dangerous. A well-known example from the cosmetics industry is the labeling of perfumes and fragrances. These labels can hide some very nasty ingredients and it's just impossible to know! When a manufacturer chooses to use those generic terms for their ingredients, it is worth knowing that in several cases they have been found to contain ingredients that have been proven to be harmful.
Sunscreens and cosmetics
Sunscreens are defined as cosmetics but require special attention due to the UV filter(s) used in sunscreens. The UV filter is the ingredient that turns a cosmetic product into a sunscreen product. Sunscreens contain either chemical UV filter(s), mineral UV filter(s), or both.
We cover the differences and definitions thoroughly in this article, but here's the gist: Chemical UV filters protect you from the sun being absorbed into your skin and temporarily make your cells more resistant to the sun. This process takes about 20 minutes after you apply. Mineral UV filters protect you from the sun by placing a protective layer on your skin. They start working immediately after application and do not affect your cells.
We will only talk about chemical UV filters from now on, as these are the category of UV filters that have the greatest concern when it comes to health and environmental problems. Mineral UV filters are widely regarded in research as safe and harmless alternatives to chemical UV filters, although it is important to know that not all mineral UV filters are equally safe (read more about that here).
Government agencies are starting to respond
The FDA and similar agencies are currently rethinking their traditional stance on chemical UV filters. They have now admitted that most of these chemicals can no longer be considered safe and that we can expect regulations to change. These studies clearly show that different chemical UV filters are easily absorbed into the bloodstream, which when combined with studies showing the negative effects of the same chemicals paints a dark picture. This strongly suggests that there is a real problem with chemical UV filters used in conventional sunscreens and human health.
Countries Ban Conventional Sunscreens
Several countries have taken steps to ban a range of chemical UV filters. This means that you are no longer allowed to take sunscreens containing these ingredients into that entire country or area. This strongly suggests that there is a real problem with chemical UV filters and environmental degradation.
Now you have a general idea of the problem: both humans and the environment suffer from the neglect and use of harmful ingredients by conventional industry. Below we take a closer look at the different areas of the cosmetics and sunscreen industry and try to show what we think are the biggest problems. Only when you know what the problems are can you avoid them and start solving them!
Human health issues and sunscreen
Chemical UV filters are finally under critical scrutiny around the world as research has become increasingly clear about their danger to humans. 16 UV filters were traditionally considered safe by the US FDA (FDA 2019) authority, but after several investigations, the FDA has now reconsidered its view, claiming that 14 of the 16 approved UV filters can no longer be considered safe because there are not enough data to support this claim. This means that the FDA has now removed these ingredients from their category GRASE (generally accepted as safe and effective). This is an important indication that we should stay away from these ingredients.
Some studies even claim that the benefits of sunscreen disappear with a chemical UV filter, because the body does more damage from those ingredients than the sun itself (Krause 2012, Schlumpf 2010). In particular, the FDA has raised concerns about how much of these chemicals are actually absorbed by the human body.
As of now, the FDA claims that only the two mineral UV filters, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, have enough research to be considered safe (FDA 2019). These two mineral UV filters are the only UV filters currently on the FDA's GRASE list.
Below we discuss some of the common effects and diseases that research has linked to the use of chemical UV filters.
According to EWG's mapping of toxicity in chemical UV filters, are the most pressing concerns for people:
Endocrine and Hormonal Disruption
At least 3 or more chemical UV filters are proven endocrine disruptors. This means that they can cause a range of human health problems and are a major concern, particularly for vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women. Consequences include abnormal birth weight, reproductive system problems, fertility problems, developmental problems, thyroid problems, androgen and estrogen imbalances, and the list goes on (Ghazipura 2017, Janjua 2004, schlumpf 2008, schlumpf 2010).
A common consequence of chemical UV filters is skin allergies. This can take the form of a common skin rash or the development of hives and other similar lesions of the skin.
There are clear links between chemical UV filters and some serious and otherwise rare diseases. An example of this is Hirschsprung's disease, it is a birth defect in which nerve cells are missing at the end of a child's intestine. It causes the colon to enlarge, while the rectum is shrunken. This can be very risky for the child and surgery must be performed to fix the problem. read this blog article on this subject for detailed illustrations and explanations. This disease is more common when women use chemical UV filters during pregnancy. One UV filter that has received specific attention because it is linked to Hirschsprung's disease is oxybenzone.
A university study in Copenhagen found that 13 commonly used chemical UV filters are linked to male infertility. The study showed that the chemical UV filters reduce fertility through endocrine disruption. Read more about the research in this blog article.
Environmental issues and sunscreen
As with human health problems, the environmental problems of sunscreen mostly come from the chemical UV filters and the problems they cause are very real.
At Suntribe, we believe these are the most serious environmental problems associated with chemical UV filters.
Damage to fish and other marine life
Damage to aquatic life through bioaccumulation and biomagnification of toxins. Sounds crazy, right? What it basically means is this: Humans release a lot of chemical UV filters into the oceans, lakes, and other natural environments. These chemical UV filters are toxic. Fish and other marine animals tend to accumulate these chemicals in their bodies. This causes estrogenic effects, which is bad, and this damages ecosystems over time, and more severely as the chemicals build up. We end up eating the fish and accumulating the same toxic chemicals in our bodies. End result: bad for animal life, bad for human life.
Chemical UV filters have also been shown to bleach coral reefs even at very low concentrations (danovaro et al. 2008). This is considered a major threat to several coral reef areas around the world (Sharifan et al. 2016), and bans on chemical UV filters are being introduced in several regions around the world to combat the problem. read this blog article on why six globally signed sunscreen bans have been issued to learn more about the positive winds of change that are blowing. The Swedish government funded a study showing that chemical UV filters cause: a) the bleaching of hard corals b) damage and deformation of coral larvae c) damage to coral DNA and reproductive success (Wood 2018).
We see these two points at Suntribe as very strong reasons to stop using chemical UV filters. The reason we started Suntribe was to provide an alternative sunscreen product that doesn't contain chemical UV filters or any other ingredient in the least related to being unsafe. This research was what motivated us to embark on our journey, as we could see that this was a real problem, and as sunscreen and nature lovers, we wanted to help with the solution.