Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide-based sunscreens are among the heavily marketed UV protection products currently sold worldwide. It is a $9.3 billion dollar industry and growing, The U.S. market for UV protection results in numerous product varieties, each containing these and other harmful ingredients, but few that meet strict ecological and health standards that have been established.
Petrochemical and industrial chemical-based sunscreens are harmful to coral reefs and marine species. Hawaii’s recently introduced bill bans UV-filtering ingredients found in most sunscreens because they bleach reefs, damage reef DNA, cause abnormal reef growth, induce hormonal disruption, and indicate additional health concerns for both animals and people. Recently, major US companies like Aveeno have been forced to recall their sunscreen products due to increased legislative pressures to protect against environmental threats.
Puerto Rico, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and many additional islands have banned UV protection that contain harmful chemicals, however, there are few products available that meet the standards of newly-penned laws. An organic, truly harmless UV-blocking product is necessary to protect the environment and human health.
The Offending Chemicals
Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3) - An environmental contaminant, this chemical is used to help prevent ultraviolet radiation damage, however, it is a known endocrine disruptor. The Centers for Disease Control has found that 97% of people tested have oxybenzene in their urine and scientists have also concluded that it is present in waterways and fish around the world.
Octinoxate - This chemical bleaches coral reefs, and acts as an endocrine disruptor even though it is FDA approved.
Propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben and butylparaben - These chemicals cause ocean life and coral reef damage via bleaching. They are documented as being harmful to human health, particularly by inhibiting estrogen production and hormonal balance.
Avobenzone - This is an FDA-approved chemical used in sunscreens that is “Hawaii Compliant” to replace Oxybenzone, however, it photodegrades with exposure to UV light and increases free radicals in the skin.
Cylcopentasiloxane / Cyclomethicone - A silicon-based additive that bioaccumulates in marine life This chemical also acts as an endocrine disruptor and has negative effects on the reproductive system of both men and women.
Formaldehyde derivatives – Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin and Hydroxymethylglycinate are all chemicals that release formaldehyde. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. It is also an ecotoxin.
Homosalate - This chemical additive is a known endocrine disruptor.
Sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate (SLS/SLES) - This set of chemicals is harmful to aquatic life and humans alike.
Methylisothiazolinone - A chemical additive to sunscreens that is neurotoxic, and ecotoxic.
Octocrylene - This chemical is used as an SPF booster and UV absorber. It degrades into benzophenone, a carcinogen to humans, an endocrine disruptor, and also bleaches coral reefs.
Phthalates - This chemical compound is often added to sunscreens with scent and can cause male infertility and endocrine disruption. In marine life, mollusks, crustaceans and amphibians are critically sensitive to the presence of phthalates.
The Potential Harm of Nano Chemical Sunscreen Additives to Coral Reefs
There is a large body of scientific research suggesting chemicals found in sunscreen are harmful to coral reefs and marine life. Coral reef damage is particularly perilous because approximately 25 percent of all sea life relies on the ecosystem provided by coral reefs. This includes fish, sea horses, green algae, dolphins, sea anemones, and thousands of additional varieties. Coral reefs also provide coastal regions protection from waves, thus ensuring the continuation of life on shore also.
There are numerous large coral reef systems that have been damaged by sunscreen chemical additives as expounded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA). According to the US National Park Service, 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen (some NOAA estimates as high as 14,000 tons) enter reef areas each year. Most of this is concentrated in popular snorkeling and scuba diving tourist destinations.
The many coral reefs among the Hawaiian Islands have been negatively impacted by sunscreen use. The most recent bill (SB2571) to ban sunscreens containing chemicals harmful to the reefs including oxybenzone and octinoxate was passed by Hawaii Governor, David Ige, and went into effect January 1, 2021.
Palau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The island of Palau has banned ten different chemical sunscreen ingredients that harm coral reefs including oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate), octocrylene, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor, triclosan, methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, benzyl paraben, andphenoxyethanol.
The U.S. Virgin Islands
Oxybenzone, octocrylene and octinoxate have all been banned in sunscreens in the U.S. Virgin Islands due to coral reef bleaching and DNA damage.
Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Mexico
Only mineral based, non toxic sunscreens are allowed at most private parks in Mexico throughout Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and other popular tourist destinations.
All coral reef diseases are seen across the Caribbean islands that are due, in large part, to sunscreen exposure. The Caribbean island of Aruba has also banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and Bonaire has banned sunscreens containing harmful chemicals as well.
Key West, Florida
Key West is in the process of banning sunscreens that contain oxybenzone or octinate. While the Key West City Commission voted 6-1 for a ban within Key West city limits, state legislators blocked it. Many residents of Key West wish to support the ban.
The Current Sunscreen Marketplace
There are thousands of products on the market containing harmful chemical additives. Some of these products are advertised as being both environmentally and marine safe, but are not. Social media sites like TikTok reveal that many companies are repeat offenders in marketing products that are neither reef-safe nor safe for human health including Sun Bum, Neutrogena, Aveeno and many other popular brands.
Even at very low concentrations, chemicals included in sunscreen lotions have been shown to induce rapid and total bleaching of hard corals. While we may believe that the small amount of sunscreen we apply at the beach (and dermatologists agree that we routinely under apply sunscreen) cannot have a significant impact when contrasted to the enormity of the ocean, this is false. Research found that oxybenzone had a negative effect at 62 parts per trillion, which is the same as one single drop of sunscreen dropped into the water content of six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Popular products containing harmful chemicals as described by the Environmental Working Group include:
- LaRoche Posey SPF 50 sunscreen
- Coppertone SPF 30 face cream
- Aveeno SPF 50 daily moisturizer
- Melaluca SPF 15 lip balm
- Suncare Generation SPF 30 sunscreen
- Laura Mercier SPF 30 tinted moisturizer
- Kiehl’s SPF 30 Sunscreen Defense
- Bobbi Brown SPF 25 sunscreen
- Glo Skin Beauty Skin Tint SPF 30
- And many more
An Alternative from Jennifer Bradley
Natural and organic sun protection are becoming more popular to combat the harmful side effects of sun exposure, which affect not only our own skin but also the environment and our seas. To minimize damage to marine life, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration encourages the use of mineral-based sunscreens, particularly those containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, all of which are free of nanoparticles. The FDA confirmed that these substances are both safe and effective.
Because the organic minerals are taken from nature and are mild to use, they are completely safe to wear while swimming near coral reefs. Coral reefs can absorb nanoparticles; nevertheless, research shows that bigger non-nanoparticles are more beneficial to the ecosystem.
Jennifer Bradley’s 4 in One Foundation is a medical grade product that can be repurposed as a Tinted Natural Sun Barrier for Sports Illustrated that contains none of the harmful chemicals outlined herein.
Its ingredients are:
Propylene Glycol Dicaprate/Dicaprylate C12-15Alkyl Benzoate, Myristyl Lactate, Sorbitan, Sesqiolate, Petrolatum, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl) Acetate, Dimethicone, Silica,( non-nano) Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
Moreover, potential customers are hesitant to use most natural physical barrier sun blocks because they are significantly unattractive when applied and typically turn the skin of people with higher melanin, white. People are also not aware that clear, chemical sun protection options are not effective unless used an hour prior to leaving their home for the outdoors because they are absorbed into the skin quickly and basically become non-functioning in a short period of time.
In line with environmental and human safety concerns, Jennifer Bradley has already created a viable option for natural, reef and human-safe sun protection by adding mineral-based color that matches skin tones, yet does not irritate it. It is water resistant, and is already used by many people across the US and Hawaii.
Jennifer Bradley’s Motivation
Jennifer Bradley became deeply interested in skincare alternatives when her father developed skin cancer. His battle with the disease inspired her to create skin care and beauty products that were non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and environmentally sound.
The 4 in 1 Camera Ready Foundation was created for both men and women's skin from stage to screen and everything in between! Even professional athletes such as golfers, tennis players, volleyball players, and surfers use Jennifer’s product to protect their skin from the sun without appearing as if they are actually wearing makeup. It is water resistant, does not dissipate when perspiring, and the “One Swipe” coverage gives a smooth, weightless, flawless appearance to skin. Most importantly, it looks exactly like skin tone that has been dramatically improved. Coverage generally lasts 8-10 hours and provides buildable, clean, and impeccable coverage. These qualities render The 4 in 1 Camera Ready Foundation as the perfect Tinted Sun Barrier that can be trusted by Sports Illustrated.
Jennifer Bradley Corporation has sustained a AAA BBB rating for over 12 years. Jennifer’s ultimate personal desire is to continue to go beyond designing, developing, formulating the very best Skincare, Cosmetics, Hair Growth Shampoo/Conditioners, Jewelry, & Accessories, all of which have been very much established online with a strong and dedicated following.
Jennifer's ultimate goal is to branch out and carry products entirely made in the USA. Her first and foremost goal: to have the highest quality skincare, accessories, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, and eventually, organic eco-friendly clothing. When clients see anything new with the Jennifer Bradley logo advertised or featured on the website, they instantly associate JB as a high quality brand at affordable prices.
The company currently has over 120,000 customers, including 500,000 followers on Facebook. With social media ratings of 4.8 on both Google and FB, this would be almost impossible to achieve without the outstanding customer service they provide.
The quality of Jennifer Bradley Skincare & Cosmetics products speak for themselves. They currently have a 78% customer retention rate, which says a lot about who they are and the quality of their products. It is without question that Jennifer Bradley has established a brand people can trust.
JB pricing is comparable to Ulta or Sephora, but products are not mass produced in China. The difference in quality is instantly recognizable. JB products produce noticeable & long-lasting results, which has created a cult-like following, along with natural and organic, word-of-mouth growth.
JBCO has experienced significant and steady growth year after year and is ethically sound with no bankruptcies. The company even grew during the pandemic with a 27% increase in revenue in 2020.
Jennifer’s beauty line is inspired by the colors around that world, especially locations with sandy beaches, coral reefs teeming with ocean life and choice waves. She is committed to causes that support the health of our beloved waterways such as OneOcean, the amazing charity based out of Fort Lauderdale that has dedicated themselves to cleaning local waters and recycling plastic waste into wearable products.
To JB, the ocean is where her heart is. She truly believes that it is our duty as humans to do everything possible to protect the natural beauty of the waters as well as showing respect to the local peoples. She wants to increase the world’s awareness of the fragility of our ocean life, which is directly affected by human waste.
JBCO’s vision is to uphold her great quality brand with morally sound values with a charity that is seamlessly connected to the very heart of our life-giving oceans. Her mission is to continue to provide sustainable products that are harmless to our children as well as our environment.
Downs, C.A., Kramarsky-Winter, E., Segal, R. et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 70, 265–288 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7
Miller, I.B., Pawlowski, S., Kellermann, M.Y. et al. Toxic effects of UV filters from sunscreens on coral reefs revisited: regulatory aspects for “reef safe” products. Environ Sci Eur 33, 74 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/ s12302-021-00515-w https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7
Poiger, T.; Hans-Rudolf, B.; Balmer, E.M.; Per-Anders, B.; Müller, D.M. Occurrence of UV filter compounds from sunscreen in surface water: Regional mass balance in two Swiss lakess. Chemosphore 2004, 951–963.
EPA, Basic Information about Coral Reefs, https://www.epa.gov/coral-reefs/basic information-about-coral-reefs
FDA, FDA advances new proposed regulation to make sure that sunscreens are safe and effective, https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda advances-new-proposed-regulation-make-sure-sunscreens-are-safe-and effective