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All-Natural Sunscreens: Avoid OXYBENZONE AND OCTINOXATE

It’s a bright sunny day! You decide to take a walk to the beach, to bask in the ambiance of the environment and absorb its freshness, and you decide to use a sunscreen for your delicate skin. Whether as lotions, creams, gels or sticks, sunscreens are here to stay, and they, especially all-natural sunscreens, are used to shield the skin from the hazardous effects of the sun rays.

For those with sensitive skin, it prevents sunburn and obscene features on the skin like leathery skin and wrinkles due to premature aging. Using a sunscreen also drastically reduces the risk of skin cancer and irritations caused by some medications, especially those that cause allergies.

It should be noted that sunscreens do not provide the ultimate protection. It is not a guarantee that a person wearing sunscreen who stays out in the sun for an extended period of time will be protected from the harsh rays of the sun. But, we can’t lock ourselves at home, so sunscreen it is.

OKAY, SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH OXYBENZONE?

The means of performance and effectiveness of a sunscreen is as a result of its active ingredients. Active ingredients function by either absorbing ultraviolet rays from the sun, thereby stopping it from reaching the far ends of the skin, or by reflecting the radiation. These two different ways distinguish the types of sunscreens – natural/mineral sunscreens or chemical sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens allow ultraviolet rays to penetrate your skin but ensures that they are not as harmful as the active ingredient absorbs the rays. Many chemical sunscreens (about 70%) have oxybenzone as its active ingredient, to transform ultraviolet rays to less deadly rays. But research has shown that oxybenzone is extremely hazardous to the environment.

In the United States state of Hawaii, the government has set legislation to ban the production of sunscreen with oxybenzone in 2021 due to the effect it has on coral reefs. These reefs serve as coastal protection from storm and erosion, enrich the water and add to the beauty of the water body. It only takes a tiny part of oxybenzone to damage the DNA of the reefs, causes the coral larvae to stop swimming, change their shape and die ultimately, thereby destroying the coral ecosystems over time. 

If oxybenzone causes many harmful effects to plants, then what about humans?

For boys that are approaching puberty stage, research has shown testosterone levels are lowered due to increased levels of oxybenzone. It has also been linked to girls experiencing early puberty. For adult males, there is a link to low sperm count and severe infertility in males.

Oxybenzone also has the ability to disrupt endocrine activities. They imitate hormones, causing endometriosis (a medical condition that results from endometrial tissue appearing outside the uterus, which causes excessive pain during a woman’s menstrual period), posing a great challenge to the reproductive system as a whole.

For people with strong skin sensitivity and severe skin irritation, it is not advisable to use chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone. It is often regarded as one of the greatest triggers of allergic skin reactions, especially when it is used often, and although it absorbs ultra-violet beta rays (UVB) and ultra-violet alpha rays (UVA), it is a weak chemical UV absorber. Chances that the harmful rays may leach into the skin may exist.

OKAY, WHAT OF OCTINOXATE?

It is less toxic than oxybenzone, but harmful nonetheless. It is quickly absorbed on your skin rather than just shielding your body from sunburns, and may go to the human urine, blood or breast milk. Like oxybenzone, it is very toxic to the reproductive system by reducing sperm count and increase hormone-related cancers in both men and women. As an environmental hazard, it is also harmful to coral reefs by entirely bleaching of the reefs even at low concentrations. Talk about slow torture!!!

It also serves as a hormone disruptor, producing the same effects as estrogen but harmful to the body.

ARE THERE OTHER ALTERNATIVES?

Yes. There definitely are.

Natural sunscreens (or mineral sunscreens) are highly recommended as they are less harmful to the body and the environment. They are also referred to as sunblocks and have the following benefits.

  • Unlike the chemical sunscreens, they are not absorbed into the skin. They contain elements like natural titanium and zinc as its active ingredients that serve as a mirror to simply reflect the rays away from the skin, thus, shielding the body against sunburn.
  • It works almost immediately: Have you ever read the instruction manual of chemical sunscreen and it says that you have to wait for ten to twenty minutes before setting out into the sun, to allow the sunscreen to be absorbed into the skin? It doesn’t apply to the mineral sunscreens because it sits on top of your skin and serves as a block to the sun.
  • High level of durability: Unlike chemical sunscreens that wear off after some time, mineral sunscreens tend to last longer and not break down over time. If you are going to be out in the sun for a long time, you already have a choice!
  • All-round protection: It’s very important to know which sunscreen provides all-round protection against all types of rays (UVA and UVB). Zinc oxide makes mineral sunscreens a natural choice as it provides natural protection against all kinds of rays. Some sunscreens only provide protection against one type. UVA rays usually cause premature aging (a person having leathery skin or wrinkles) while UVB rays are the ones that burn the skin. There is even mineral sunscreen for babies.

IS COCONUT OIL A NATURAL SUNSCREEN?

Coconut oil is an amazing all-natural oil. It does have some natural ability to serve as a sunscreen. However, the SPF value isn’t enough to recommend its use as a sunscreen. Coconut oils may be blended with other ingredients to make a complete UV protection available. However, please be cautious about using raw and unlabeled products as UV protectors since you don’t want to risk skin damage.

CONCLUSION:  

Despite the several benefits associated with using chemical sunscreens, the health detriments that come with using oxybenzone and octinoxate does not make them safe choices. So the next time you are going to take that walk at the beach or stay out long in the sun, always make sure that you go with natural sunscreens for maximum protection. Bask in that ambiance! Think! Breathe! Live! 

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Niki
Author: Niki

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