Sunscreen is a non-negotiable in the Australian sun and a staple in any good anti-ageing regimen.
Any beauty buff will tell you that the secret to eternal youth is wearing SPF everyday, and there’s no arguing with the fact that protecting your skin is the first point of action in trying to prevent skin cancers and melanomas.
That said; you go the beach, put your sunscreen on, wait 15 minutes for good measure and then dive into the water for a much-needed dose of vitamin sea—all without a second thought.
But unbeknownst to many of us, our sunscreen of choice has a bigger impact on our environment than we think, which is why the state of Hawaii is fighting for a ban on sunscreens that contain harsh chemicals known to be toxic to coral reefs and marine life.
The chemicals of interest are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, both of which are found in a number of popular sunscreens.
According to a study published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (2015), about 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen lotion end up in coral reefs around the world each year.
Not only has it been found to harm coral, but the chemical has been shown to disrupt the development of fish and other marine life, the study reports.
“It’s toxic to algae, sea urchins, fish and mammals,” another report states. “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 and to exhibit procarcinogenic activity.”
The bill was just passed by the Hawaii state legislature and will go to the governor’s office. If it’s signed off, the ban is said to kick into effect in the year 2021 which will make Hawaii the first part of the world to do so.
Although many common sunscreens do contain Oxybenzone and Octinoxate (the study reported Oxybenzone to be found in 3,500 sunscreen products that are manufactured worldwide), there are a number of brands that are moving toward using ingredients such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide instead which are understood to be better for the environment and your skin.
As reported by the ABC, Cancer Council is one brand that no longer contains Oxybenzone (which is also related to allergies) and is in the process of phasing out Octinoxate.
Click here to read about what the Skin Cancer Foundation wants you to know about the proposed ban. Do you pay attention to what’s in your sunscreen? What are some of your favourite eco-friendly products?