Is your sunscreen 'guilt-free'?

Hey guys!

If youโ€™ve come to this page from my Instagram post, the quick answer is:

YES! We might be over-worried BUT that doesn't mean we can just walk away doing nothing.

what i wish you knew

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Maldives recently. The view was nothing short of extraordinary. Coming from Asia, what are the must-have items that weโ€™ve brought along to the trip?

CAMERA & SUNSCREEN!!

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But I didnโ€™t put on sunscreen when going into the waters (except mah faceeee because you know, your face your fate and I donโ€™t look nice tanned). I vaguely remember that sunscreens are said to pollute the ocean, and the most notorious one (so far always quoted in articles) is OXYBENZONE. It is said to be harmful to coral reefs. HOW?

Iโ€™m no marine life expert so I read a few articles and hereโ€™s the summary:

  • One particular chemical thatโ€™s popular in sunscreens is OXYBENZONE. (see the UVA & UVB blocking capabilities here on my other post)
  • Sunscreens, even water-proof ones, can be washed off the skin when you wipe them or in water. In particular, oxybenzone can be absorbed by skin [1] and is said to be present in urine after application [2].
  • So that means when you go into the waters, shower next to the beach, or pee, youโ€™re actually releasing oxybenzone! (Iโ€™m not sure if oxybenzone is still the same in your pee-pee but yeah I guess this is good-to-know infoโ€ฆ)

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Oxybenzone is said to:

  • induce coral bleaching by lowering the temperature at which corals will bleach when exposed to prolonged heat stress
  • is genotoxic, and damages coral DNA
  • is an endocrine disruptor (actually they say it's also same for human) and causing the coral larvae to inappropriately encase itself in its own stony skeleton
  • is toxic to algae, sea urchins, fish and mammals
  • inhibits embryonic development in sea urchins
  • can result in gender shifts in fish, in which male fish take on female attributes, while females have reduced egg production and embryo hatchings...WHAAATTTTT [3]

maldives 2017

ARE WE BEING OVERLY WORRIED?

Maybe.

  • Sunscreen lotions do not threaten every single coral reef in the world. It is those which are frequented by human activities that are most severely affected. 

  • But comparing to other shitty human activities such as overfishing, water pollution from residential & industrial landuses, climate change, ocean acidification, etc., sunscreen pollution isnโ€™t the most detrimental to coral reefs.
  • Water movement within most reef systems from waves, currents and tidal flow is likely to dilute these contaminants, minimizing their exposure to corals. Most of the studies that demonstrate toxic effects of sunscreen were done in the laboratory or in a "closed" system with corals placed in bags containing seawater, so they donโ€™t reflect the absolute 'reality'.

(All of the above points are from [4]!)

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BUT THAT DOESNโ€™T MEAN WE CAN JUST โ€˜LEAVE ITโ€™

(1)

This is not to say that we shouldn't put on sunscreen. There are other sunscreen ingredients that can replace oxybenzone  

(see my other post on sunscreen here - OMG yes i'm quoting myself lol so cheeky)

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(2)

Rethink the amount of sunscreen we need โ€“

do we need it all over our body even if weโ€™re just in the sun for 15 minutes?

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(3)

Wear clothing with sun-protection to reduce the amount of sunscreen needed

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(4)

Apply the sunscreen well BEFORE we go into the waters to reduce immediate wash-off

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The beauty of nature is breathtaking -

why don't we give a little bit more patience (and maybe a little bit more money LOL) to choose products that do less harm to the environment?

Let's start today!

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sincerely, kammie.png