Who doesn't know the importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from sunrays? However, we may never have considered what effects such sunscreen can have on the planet. Especially marine ecosystems.
Some sunscreens have been found to be harmful to the environment. In fact, according to scientists, one of the chemical components included in some of the creams that protect us from the sun, called "Benzophenone-3" and whose function is to filter out harmful UVA rays, is negatively affecting coral reefs and, in general, the marine ecosystem. Did you know that?
It is essential to start being aware that we are millions of people who crowd beaches and rivers during the scorching months of summer and that some of that sunscreen ends up being diluted in the seawater.
In other words, the problem of overpopulation that the world suffers, coupled with mass tourism concentrated in summer and on the beach, produces marine pollution due to the amount of sunscreen we use. And to its composition, of course.
According to the cited study, a single drop of that compound, Benzophenone-3, diluted in six Olympic pools, could already damage the corals by accelerating their bleaching.
But there is another fact: on busy beaches (like those in Hawaii), 190 kilos of sunscreen can reach the sea each year.
It should be remembered that corals are essential to the health of our seas. Millions of different species live around them and they could not survive if the corals disappeared. There is a lot of life at stake!
Types of sunscreens
Before getting fully into the subject, you should know that sunscreens can use two types of filters:
They create a kind of protective screen between the sun's harmful rays and the skin, reflecting them. Technically they are called "mineral filters". Actually, it's not much different from wearing protective clothing, because what they do is prevent the rays from reaching the skin. They are usually made from titanium oxide or zinc oxide.
Chemical or organic
They absorb the sun's rays through a chemical process. Therefore, they do not reflect them but assimilate them. In this way, the energy is usually transformed into heat.
Biodegradable sunscreens must contain physical filters, the first type. As it is a mineral component, in the same way that it enters the sea it can leave. On the other hand, chemical filters are absorbed by the marine fauna and flora, which can alter the composition of its body.
Obviously, the other components of the cosmetic must also be biodegradable, not just the filters.
Any cream containing the following chemicals is a contaminant: octocrylene, benzophenone, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, hexylodecanol, dimethyl apramide, cetyl dimethicone, methylparaben, polyethylene, propylparaben or butylcarbamate. Therefore, we recommend that you read the composition of the sunscreen before purchasing it and check that it is not made from any of these components.
Do biodegradable creams have the same effectiveness?
Yes, but not all of them have a protection factor of 50SPF, which is the level at which very littl sunlight affects the skin. But what is certain is that the factor advertised on the packaging is the real one.
Therefore, the effectiveness of a normal sunscreen and a biodegradable sunscreen is the same. However, there are biodegradable sunscreens with a factor of 50SPF (among other reasons, because they are necessary for babies), only there is not so much supply, they are a little more expensive and will be visible once spread on the skin. In other words, the only difference with a common sunscreen is aesthetics.
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