Here comes the sun, and with it a cosmetics product that many of us use to protect ourselves from UV damage and signs of ageing: sun cream!
Sun protection, particularly the chemical-based products that absorb UV rays, convert them into heat and then release them, can negatively impact the marine ecosystem either directly as a consequence of washing off skin while swimming or indirectly from wastewater treatments plants. About 0.8 litres of sunscreen are spread every second in the world seas, this is a threat for corals and many marine ecosystems …
The chemical filters used in sun cream to counter UV rays actually promote the bleaching of corals, the molecules that make up these filters, benzophenes or aminobenzoates (like benzophenone-3 and octinoxate), promote the spread of a virus in zooxanthellae, algae that live in symbiosis with coral. When the zooxanthella dies, the coral bleaches and dies. Moreover, studies suggest certain sun cream ingredients can also increase the abundance of viruses, deform coral larvae and damage corals reproductive success. To replace these compounds, oxides have been used, such a zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide, however these demonstrated harmful impacts on phytoplankton.
Concerning human health, recent studies have demonstrated that intensive application of different sunscreens for 4 days resulted for a week in the presence of certain harmful components in the blood of 24 healthy subjects. Currently, the effect of these concentrations is unknown. The systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings.
In conclusion, it is still necessary to protect oneself from the sun, in particular to reduce the incidence of melanoma. The best advice would be to look for shade; wearing protective clothing and sunglasses are also important steps to help prevent skin cancer, sunburn and premature skin ageing. Environmentally friendly sunscreens are have been developed by several companies, such as the French Mimitika that eliminates the harmful components of its compositions and used 90% of plant-based ingredients (aloe vera, seaweed…), so that you can keep enjoying the sun while preserving our planet and our health!
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