why stay out of the sun?
We love the sun! It plays a part in everything we do, from shining light on our everyday activities to allowing plants to bloom and grow. However, the consequences of going out in the sun unprotected from UV rays are really unpleasant- sunburns hurt and can lead to even worse skin damage later on!1
what’s the problem with sunscreen?
The first thought that pops into our heads when we imagine sun protection is sunscreen. Simply spray it on, and you’re immediately protected from harmful radiation! However, we often forget that this protection only lasts for two hours at most and often washes off quickly in water. We also tend to not to read the labels on our sunscreen bottles: it’s easy to forget that when we put on sunscreen, we’re rubbing a chemical cocktail all over our bodies. These chemicals have been shown to have negative effects on the environment2; just think about how they might affect our skin!
Here are some chemicals to watch out for3:
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
- methyl paraben
- ethyl paraben
- propyl paraben
- butyl paraben
- benzyl paraben
WARNING: Just because a sunscreen says “reef-safe” on it DOES NOT mean that it doesn’t contain these chemicals! There are no rules about using that term- don’t be fooled!
do all sunscreens have these chemicals?
Check out sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide: most have only mineral-based ingredients that are skin and have substantially less impact to marine life!
is there an easy way to avoid these chemicals?
The easiest way to protect yourself from the sun is to simply cover yourself up from the sun’s rays! A UPF 50+ t-shirt is even more effective than sunscreen, and, believe it or not, won’t wash off in the water like sunscreen will4. Plus, covering up can protect places that sunscreen can’t reach: wearing a hat and sunglasses not only protects your face from early aging and sunburn- it also protects your eyes from macular degeneration and your scalp from sunburn and skin damage!
Some of the best alternatives to sunscreen were developed for surfers- rashguards, board shorts, spring suits (shorty wetsuits), and wetsuits themselves are all great protection from the sun, and they provide a fashionable, sleek look in the water!
For some great sun-safe outfit inspiration, check out our blog!
1“Protect Yourself, Protect the Reef!”. Cdhc.noaa.gov.
2Danovaro, Roberto et al. “Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching By Promoting Viral Infections”. Environmental Health Perspectives (2008): 441-7.
3“Protect Land + Sea Certification – Haereticus”. Haereticus-lab.org
4“Could Sun-Protective Clothing Replace Sunscreen?”. Scientific American. 2009.