Sunscreen and chemical filters: the dangers for the skin and the oceans
Our skin needs sun, but not too much! Any abuse causes premature aging of the epidermis and, in extreme cases, skin cancer. A sunburn is a burn and it is crucial to protect yourself from it: by moderating your exposure, by wearing suitable clothes (including a hat that protects the face and the neck), as well as by applying sunscreen when you are discovered. However, you should not choose your protective lotion at random, because not all are created equal.
What is the Difference Between Sunscreen and Mineral Filter
There are two types of sunscreen: with chemical filter or with mineral filter. Today, 27 filters are available for sunscreen designers: 2 are mineral, 25 are chemical.
- The chemical sunscreen is obtained using synthetic molecules. It penetrates the epidermis and takes over from the skin to absorb UV rays from the sun.
- The mineral sun filter is composed of natural micro molecules, derived from minerals such as zinc or titanium dioxide (a compound of oxygen and titanium). It does not penetrate the skin or absorb light, but diffracts it, that is, it deflects the propagation of the sun's rays, like a mirror would.
The dangers to the body of chemical filters
While it is essential to apply sunscreen when you expose yourself, the remedy should not be more harmful than the danger.
The intrusion into our body
The first difference between chemical filter and mineral filter is that the first crosses the skin barrier, while the second stays on the surface to reflect UV rays. It is always best not to let foreign substances enter your body, especially when these are synthetic.
Chemical filters, in particular Octocrylene, which would degrade into Benzophenone over time, penetrate the skin but also the deeper layers of our body. They are found in blood, urine, placenta and breast milk.
These substances present allergic risks, but also photoallergies, a reaction to sunlight. The allergic reaction to photoallergies’ causes redness, itching, peeling and, in the most extreme manifestations, blisters and pimples like hives. To make matters worse, since Benzophenones and Octocrylene circulate inside our body, photo-allergic reactions can appear within three days of exposure to the sun, also affecting areas of the skin that have not been exposed to the sun. been subjected to UV.
Other substances, such as Ethylhexyl Methoxicinnamate (EHMC), are also frequently found in breast milk and directly impact the infant.
Sources : http://www.projetfees.fr
The protection period
Unlike the protection of a mineral filter that instantly reflects UV rays, the protection of a chemical filter is not immediate. It takes up to half an hour for the product to penetrate the skin and be operational.
The photo-stability of a sunscreen is its ability to maintain its effectiveness when exposed to the sun. To be considered photo-stable, the product must retain more than 90% of its protective power after two hours in contact with UV rays.
To determine a reliable and fair classification between all the products, the photo-stability test is carried out in a simulator. It consists of irradiating a sample for 2 hours, with a power equivalent to exposure on a beach in the south of France, on a summer day, thus corresponding to solar noon.
After experimentation, it appears that most chemical filters are considered to be photo unstable. Because they do not protect you over the long term, you should immediately eliminate all sunscreens containing the following chemical filters:
~ Homosalate ;
~ Octocrylene ;
~ Octylmethoxycinnamate ;
~ PEG-25 PABA ;
~ Isoamyl p-methoxycinnamate ;
~ Octyltriazone ;
~ 4-methylbenzylidène camphre 3- benzylidène ;
~ Camphre ;
~ Octylsalicylate ;
~ Octyldimethyl PABA ;
~ Anisotriazine ;
Source : archive.bu.univ-nantes.fr/
To sum up, after applying a sunscreen containing chemical filters, you must wait half an hour before exposing yourself to the sun and this protection will not pass the two-hour mark.
The presence of endocrine disruptors
Our endocrine system regulates the secretion of hormones essential for metabolism, growth, development, sleep, and mood. An endocrine disruptor sows’ discord in our body because it can:
~ mimic a hormone and thus cause the effect of this hormone;
~ block hormonal action by attaching to its receptor;
~ disrupt the production of hormones which then becomes excessive or, on the contrary, insufficient.
The concrete consequences of the presence of endocrine disruptors in the body cause serious imbalances and dysfunctions in adults. They can be very serious for children whose growth is severely disrupted. For a pregnant woman, the influence of endocrine disruptors is extremely deleterious, for her as well as for her fetus.
Chemical filters in sunscreens are among the contaminants that can disrupt the endocrine system. Benzophenones, Benzylidene derivatives, PABA derivatives, Cinnamates, Camphor, Homosalate and Avobenzon are the most deleterious of chemical filters. Their harmful influence is exerted on the reproductive systems (estrogenic and androgenic disruptors), male infertility, the onset of endometriosis in women and all developmental problems of the child.
The dangers for the planet
Chemical filters also produce very harmful effects on the planet and the seas and oceans, whose ecosystems are already under strain, due to pollution of an appalling scale.
Since sunscreens are often used on beaches by people who then go for a swim, they directly pollute the waters of seas and oceans, but also lakes and rivers.
The most harmful components are:
~ Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (EHMC, OMC / Octinoxate) ;
~ Benzophenone-3 (BP3, Oxybenzone) ;
~ 4-Methylbenzylidene ;
~ Camphor(4MBC) ;
In addition, when they are not transmitted by swimming in natural waters, chemical filters are transmitted through wastewater from swimming pools and showers.
The influence of chemical filters on aquatic fauna
Endocrine disruptors do not only affect humans, but of course all wildlife, in this case aquatic fauna. The hormonal systems of fish have been studied and have shown major dysfunctions that call into question their reproduction, because they particularly affect the fertility of animals.
Chemical filters also influence the formation of blood vessels in fish, leading to malformations. As a result, problems with blood supply, development, and heart problems multiply and reduce the life expectancy of the animals.
Fish are obviously not the only ones affected, shellfish, seafood, mussels, oysters, sea urchins, etc. also suffer from this pollution. This then contaminates the entire food chain, i.e. predators, larger fish and marine mammals.
To close the loop, we must also consider our consumption of seafood and sea or river fish which brings us and feed us with animals whose bodies are polluted by these chemical filters.
The case of corals
Corals are particularly sensitive to chemical filters, some of which, like Oxybenzone, are lethal. Remember that coral is an animal and that its importance for the balance of the oceans is crucial.
Coral is planted in shallow areas because it needs sunlight for the microalgae that lives inside, zooxanthella, to benefit from photosynthesis. The latter converts CO2 into oxygen, while the coral breathes oxygen and exhales CO2. Algae waste is assimilated by the coral like food; coral waste is assimilated by the algae. This is how corals can meet 80% of their food needs internally, thanks to algae. They find the remaining 20% in the plankton they capture, thanks to their tiny tentacles.
The fact that the coral is almost autonomous allows it to live in desert areas of the seabed and thus create oases of life for other marine animals. Thus, an entire ecosystem can develop. It provides shelter for fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, as well as a breeding ground. The coral reefs serve as shelter and nurseries for a multitude of species: damselfish, butterfly fish, echinoderms, translucent shrimps, spider crabs, octopus, groupers, etc.
The chemical filters in sunscreens destroy the symbiosis between the coral and its internal microalgae. This causes his starvation which causes him to turn white before dying. It is then all the local fauna that is affected. As the coral massif is the only life in the perimeter, the entire area is becoming desertified.
The butterfly effect due to the disappearance of the coral
The disappearance of a coral reef is not limited to an aesthetic effect. The species that inhabited them are replaced by herbivorous species that feed on algae that proliferate on dead coral, as well as fish that feast on limestone, such as parrot fish.
In addition to the migration of fish populations, the disappearance of coral leads to ocean acidification and the increase in CO2 levels resulting from the decrease in the pH of the oceans. The abundance of phytoplankton is reduced and decreases the calcification of certain marine organisms, including shellfish, which hinders their growth and weakens their hulls.
The consequences of coral death also affect human activity and life on some islands. New laws are gradually being put in place to ban the use of sun products containing some of the most harmful chemical filters for the environment. For example, a law comes into effect in 2021 in Hawaii, where swimming is prohibited if bathers use sunscreen containing one of the following filters: Oxybenzone / Benzophenone-3 (BP3), Octinoxate / Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (EHMC) / Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC): “the new law will ban at least 70% of sunscreens currently on the market”.
What is the alternative to chemical filters?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is an alternative to chemical filters with mineral filters like our Druide BioLove sunscreen. They are much less numerous and have certain advantages: effective upon application, healthy for our body (when they are without nanoparticles, which is our case), more respectful of the environment.
Today, only two mineral filters are available on the market: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They work instantly, the moment you apply the cream to the skin, and they last longer.
In addition, to ensure that you are using a product without side effects, it is best to select a certified organic sunscreen. You can therefore be sure that it has been designed:
~ without chemical materials, especially from petrochemicals;
~ without endocrine disruptors;
~ with natural raw materials;
~ produced with organic farming;
~ made using environmentally friendly processes.
Watch out for nanoparticles
A nanometer is worth a billionth of a meter. A nanoparticle therefore measures a few billionths of a meter, which means that it is imperceptible to the human eye. The downside is its ability to penetrate the deepest layers of our body. Our skin is our protection, it acts as a bulwark to isolate us from the outside, but the nanoparticles in cosmetics pass through.
Why are nanoparticles so present in cosmetics, especially sunscreens
Nanoparticles improve the texture and hold of cosmetics, which is why they are commonly found in makeup products. In addition, they absorb light and can be processed to filter UV rays, making them popular among sunscreen manufacturers.
Do nanoparticles pose a health risk?
Numerous studies are being carried out to estimate the health hazard posed by nanoparticles. What is certain is that their infinitesimal dimension promotes their penetration into our body, ignoring the barrier of the skin, but also of other tissues. They can thus disrupt our blood system, our lymphatic system (seat of our immune system), as well as our functional organs.
Once implanted in the depths of our body, the problem of their elimination arises. There is a danger that nanoparticles will accumulate, without being able to be excreted by our body. To avoid any risk, it is preferable to select only sunscreens that do not contain nanoparticles.
If the use of sunscreen is essential for the protection of your skin, you should choose your product carefully. Fortunately, you do not have to deprive yourself of sunbathing (or bathing in sea water, river or swimming pool), because there are reliable cosmetics, safe for the body and the environment: sunscreen without chemical filters, with mineral filters, organic and without nanoparticles.