Five years ago, I took a group of workers from a sunscreen company on a snorkel tour. At the end of the tour, they asked me, "Do you wear sunscreen?" I proudly responded, "No, it gives you cancer." Well, would you believe me if I told you that their response was, "Our company makes the kind that gives you cancer, but it also makes the kind that doesn't."? Then they proceeded to hand me a bottle of the mineral based kind that doesn't give you cancer.
I was dumbfounded and yet at the same time, thinking, I knew it! I really didn't think that confirmation of the fact that chemicals in sunscreens give you cancer would be so rewarding when the outcome is so deadly. Well, the rewarding feeling came from the fact that I had done the research to protect myself. That seems to be happening less and less nowadays and we are seeing the effects - skyrocketing rates of skin cancer, and it's not always from the sun (shocking statistics here).
There is another good reason though to switch to mineral sunscreens, and that is for the health of the coral reefs. Hawaii is taking the lead in banning toxic sunscreens, as their law of banning oxybenzone and oxtinoxate in sunscreen will go into effect by January 1st of 2021.
Good, right? We've saved the coral and all the little fishes. Nothing more to worry about as long as we are not using those TWO chemicals!
Let's dive a little bit deeper into this issue. First of all, there are more than two chemicals in sunscreen that are damaging to the reef. Here is an image that includes a few more:
Let's take a look at Homosalate - a chemical that has not been banned. This chemical is classified as toxic, to humans and nature, and it can accumulate in nature. (source) Its use is actually restricted in other countries and it has been found to be a hormone and endocrine disruptor (source), leading to an increase in breast cancer cells.
SO, what's your thought? Let me tell you what's happening now that only TWO chemicals have been banned because they are harmful to the reef (no mention of being harmful to us BTW!). Sunscreens that continue to use these other toxic chemicals are allowed to label their bottles as "Reef-Safe" even though they are not actually reef OR human safe!! Do you see that loop-hole? Do you see why nowadays it is SO important to question labels and go straight to the ingredient list?
You might be asking yourself: but why would they mislead us?
Money. It all boils down to making money.
So what's the alternative? Sunscreens with NON-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe for us and the reef. That is what we refer to as "mineral" sunscreen. Those should be the only two active ingredients in your sunscreen. These ingredients are effective because they physically block the rays. Yes, you'll appear a little whiter, but isn't it worth the trade-off of no chemicals?
So please take some time to question the market and look beyond labels - it will save both your health and the health of the environment, which these days, means a lot.
Here is a link to a 100% Nontoxic, Reef-Safe Sunscreen: REEF-SAFE SUNSCREEN!!
But hey, don't trust my word, read the label. ;)