Most likely, you have heard about the harmfulness of chemical sunscreens at some point - either from environmentally-minded acquaintances, or on TV or radio... With the ever-increasing focus on a gentle way of life, this topic is also constantly appearing in the media, so you have probably heard it several times already. flashed through his mind. The problem is that there are quite a lot of myths about chemical sunscreens, experts have different opinions, so it's no wonder that we are sometimes confused and not sure what to believe next.
It is important not to just take the advice of a friend who heard it from another friend, but to thoroughly research the given topic and only then decide how you will take care of your skin in the summer and what suits you best. We have tried to summarize the most important aspects and facts for you, so that you can get a slightly more complete picture. So let's do it!
Nature Suffers or A Killer Called Oxybenzone
This is definitely the number one reason to reconsider using chemical sunscreens. The fact that these sunscreens are not healthy for us is as clear as a slap in the face, but of course it is better to apply this than not at all. But if you jump into the sea covered in sunscreen, the consequences are far-reaching.
The biggest problem with sunscreens is a substance called oxybenzone, which is an artificially created chemical compound whose mission is unequivocal - to absorb UV radiation. This substance can be found, among other things, in some other cosmetic products (e.g. hairspray), but also in clothing or printing inks - colored T-shirts or newspapers will not fade so quickly.
At sea beaches, however, an incredible amount of this substance gets into the water and "suffocates" and kills coral reefs that are hundreds or thousands of years old. These reefs are famous for their color, which is provided by a symbiotic life with seaweed, but this color is gradually lost due to oxybenzone. This substance causes stress to the corals, so they then get rid of the algae on their surface. At first they just lose their color, but then they "suffocate" because they no longer receive oxygen from the algae. This is real, tangible and visible proof of how dangerous oxybenzone is. Fortunately, the countries affected by this damage to coral islands are solving the problem - for example, the Hawaiian Islands, the Virgin Islands, the Pacific state of Palau or the Florida island of Key West are introducing a ban on sunscreens that use oxybenzone as a UV filter.
And it's not just about corals - oxybenzone and other substances that are contained in chemical sunscreens can also cause damage to other sea creatures - for example, in some fish, there is a kind of "swapping" of sex. Males behave like females, while females lose their ability to reproduce.
Unfortunately, many of the other risks associated with oxybenzone are no longer as visible as bleached coral islands. Oxybenzone enters the body relatively easily through our skin and is a really resistant substance, it is very difficult to filter it out somehow. When we shower, the cream from our body with a share of oxybenzone goes to the sewer, then to the sewage treatment plant, but even there the water is not completely cleaned of oxybenzone - it can be found even in already cleaned drinking water, which is somewhat alarming. It means that even if you have never used a chemical suntan in your life, you have some percentage of oxybenzone in your body. Scary, right?
In addition, oxybenzone is an "endocrine disruptor", that is, a substance that somehow affects the function and action of hormones, and of course in a negative sense. In short and well, it's not exactly something we should or want to put into our body on purpose.
More chemical treats
Oxybenzone is not the only chemical we can find in sunscreens, far from it. In fact, there are so many of them that it is no wonder that some of them are really toxic. Just read the label on the sunscreen - most likely you won't find a single normal, understandable word.
Among the more toxic ones, we can name, for example, avobenzone, octocrylene, octisalate, homosalate, ethylhexyl salicylate or, for example, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, which we will look at a little more closely.
Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, also known as EHMC, was also shed light on by experts from Masaryk University , more precisely from the Center for Research on Toxic Substances in the Environment. Their findings were rather disturbing - according to their research, EHMC can change when exposed to UV radiation, and this change makes it a potentially dangerous substance that can damage DNA and cause mutations in the genome, which could lead to more serious diseases.
Too much trust in sunscreen?
One of the biggest marketing ploys when selling sunscreen is to claim that using it will prevent skin cancer, but this is not clearly proven. The number of people who fell ill with skin cancer has doubled in the last 30 years, but the use of sun creams has also increased many times over. Therefore, it would certainly not be possible to conclude by logical deduction that sunscreens really act as a prevention of skin cancer.
The study, which was published in the English journal The Lancet , suggested possible reasons why this is so. The overuse of sun creams causes our body to be unable to perceive the fact that it is exposed to the sun - even vitamin D is not received as it would normally be (without UV protection). In people who suffer from a lack of vitamin D, we then find a greater risk of getting cancer than those who have enough of this vitamin. A study published in the journal The Lancet showed that, paradoxically, individuals who work indoors and do not look at the sun very often have a greater risk of skin cancer than those who spend more time outdoors.
Another aspect of why sunscreen in itself can be risky is that if we apply it, we will spend more time outside in the sun. And that's for one reason - with the dizzyingly high protection factors found in the creams, we don't have to worry about burning so much, so we can "last" frying in the sun for longer. But everything has its limits - there is a certain time when it is healthy and natural for our body to be exposed to the sun, but of course it should not be exceeded. With sunscreen products, we can easily exceed these limits and "cheat" nature a little. However, we can also ward off heatstroke, for example, so in short, we shouldn't overdo it in the sun one way or another.
Before you throw away all the sunscreen…
But before you go into a vehement purge of all your chemical sunscreens, there's one important thing to remember: not using chemical sunscreens at all is WORSE than using them. So if after reading this article you are going to sunbathe in the garden, but you don't yet have any natural version on hand besides the classic sunscreen, definitely don't avoid it completely and apply it.
The danger that UV radiation hides is disproportionately greater than the chemistry in sunscreen. Be sure to keep this in mind before you spontaneously throw away all your sun creams and head off into a world without UV protection in the name of ecology. The sun is very powerful, and if you don't lubricate yourself with anything and repeatedly expose yourself to the sun and risk dangerous skin burns, you are really playing with the risk of skin cancer.
So what to do?
As already mentioned, there is no problem at all to replace the classic sunscreen with the natural, "mineral" one - just look around drugstores, pharmacies and specialized shops with organic cosmetics. While chemical sunscreens use chemical compounds to protect against UV rays, natural sunscreens draw from natural sources and use minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block UV rays.
And we are very interested in what you do! Do you have a recipe of your own that you really can't burn yourself with? I'm with him, let there be as few of us with red noses and peeling shoulders as possible :)
What we read before writing the article and what you might be interested in: