Mineral sunscreen , a double protection
Protecting your skin and the environment at the same time is now possible with mineral sunscreen. Why is it important to use this type of sunscreen? What impacts do chemical sunscreens have? Find out our answers in detail.
What is a mineral sunscreen?
A sunscreen is said to be 100% “mineral” when it is composed of mineral UV filters only (and not chemical or organic filters). Mineral filters are usually based on zinc dioxide or titanium dioxide.
However, there are “mixed” sunscreens, i.e. those that contain both chemical and mineral filters.
Mineral sunscreen: what are the benefits for the skin?
Mineral sunscreens are a great solution for all skin types and especially for sensitive or reactive skin. Mineral sunscreens do not penetrate the skin. They act as a mirror by reflecting and re-diffusing UV rays, unlike conventional sunscreens with chemical UV filters that penetrate the skin.
If the brand offers a 100% natural formula, it will also be able to keep its formula free of synthetic fragrances, parabens and phthalates that can cause allergies and skin irritations or endocrine disruptors such as oxybenzone (known to damage cells, increase the risk of infertility and cause delayed puberty).
Thanks to zinc oxide, mineral sunscreens offer “broad spectrum” protection and protect against all harmful UV rays. It is important to remember that UVA rays penetrate the skin even more deeply than UVB rays. This accelerates the appearance of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation spots.
Moreover, zinc oxide is said to be photostable, so it does not oxidise in the light. It therefore retains its properties and protective power throughout exposure.
Another advantage of mineral filters is that they protect the skin as soon as they are applied. In contrast, chemical filters require several minutes before exposure to the sun, the time it takes for the filters to be absorbed by the skin.
What are the environmental benefits?
Preserving the marine environment
Sunscreens have a damaging impact on aquatic ecosystems. Indeed, they represent the third greatest threat to coral reefs, the first two being climate change and pollution in general. Whether directly, i.e. when swimming, or indirectly, through drains from shower water or washing machines, sunscreen ends up in the marine environment, hence the importance of choosing a mineral sunscreen.
Coral is essential for the habitation and feeding of aquatic life. It serves as a nursery for a quarter of marine species, as a habitat for a third of fish species and as a refuge from ocean damage (storms, waves, erosion, etc.). Its destruction leads to a total imbalance in the marine ecosystem and the disappearance of many species.
The health of corals is threatened by the constituents of sunscreen. Coral is an aquatic animal that lives in symbiosis with unicellular plant micro-algae called “zooxanthellae”. The latter are essential to the coral as they carry out photosynthesis, allowing the coral to feed, grow and reproduce. Moreover, through photosynthesis, the zooxanthellae allows the coral to breathe. In exchange, the coral protects it and provides it with the nutrients it needs: CO2 and waste products from its metabolism.
What role does chemical sunscreen play?
Sunscreen activates the destruction of these algae. This is because the sunscreens in sunscreen products are deposited on the surface of the water, preventing UV rays from passing through it. The sunscreen therefore creates a screen on the surface of the oceans, just like on our skin. This phenomenon disrupts the photosynthesis of the zooxanthellae. The amount of light energy is not sufficient to carry out photosynthesis. As a result, the coral whitens (it is the zooxanthellae that give it its colour) and dies of suffocation or lack of resources within a few days.
In addition, certain compounds in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone, damage the DNA of corals, causing them to become sterile, thus impairing their growth and reproduction. Chemical sunscreens, which are mutagenic and endocrine disruptors, alter the endocrine hormones of coral larvae, causing severe morphological deformities. As a result, the young corals close in on their skeleton and suffocate.
This is why some islands, such as Hawaii and Palau, have banned sunscreens containing certain chemicals such as oxybenzone.
What are the consequences?
The consequences of the disappearance of corals are numerous and diverse. They mainly affect the economic and environmental fields, such as the disappearance of marine species, the decrease in tourist numbers, or a reduction in catches for fishermen.
In addition, some UV filters become unstable in the aquatic environment. This leads to their transformation into undesirable by-products. The sun contributes to this degradation. Reactive hydrogen derivatives are among these by-products and are deadly for phytoplankton. Phytoplankton has lost almost 40% of its mass over the last 30 years. However, it is the basis of the food chain, as it serves as food for fish which, filled with chemicals, will be eaten by others and end up on our plates.
In conclusion, sunscreen is still essential to protect against the harmful effects of the sun. The latest innovations in mineral UV filters (with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) offer safer solutions for the oceans today. They can also be tinted and used as a foundation.
Would you like to be accompanied by experts by experts to develop your solar product range?
Do you want to develop new white label products? Discover our free In&Out product catalogue!