Sunscreens Consequences on the Environment

While lathering on sunscreen before hitting the beach may protect us from the dangers of sun exposure, it can have the opposite effect on life under water. It is estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the oceans each year.

The warm weather has finally arrived! And with warm weather comes, of course… the much-loved hot sun! It also means countless hours spent outdoors (perhaps even traveling to tropical countries if the pandemic eventually allows it). However, even on cloudy days, it is essential to use sunscreen when going outside to protect your skin.

People often choose their sunscreen based on SPF, brand, or price. However, did you know that some sunscreens are very harmful to the environment, to the extent that some countries are requesting people to use only eco-friendly sunscreen? Why are most commercial sunscreens not environmentally safe? Furthermore, why are some professionals not recommending said sunscreens for children?

Sunscreens and Their Chemical Ingredients

You probably know that many sunscreens currently available on the market contain several chemical ingredients – many bearing names perfectly akin to a game of Scrabble. Oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate are unknown words to us, but it is essential to remember them when considering your next sunscreen purchase.

After applying sunscreen on your body, some of its chemical compounds can be leached into the water when you enter it. Then, various aquatic organisms, such as coral, absorb them. Coral reproduction and growth cycles can be disrupted, explaining why corals are not as bright as they once were and are now whiter. Furthermore, when you use a sunscreen aerosol on the beach, the chances are that grains of sand that have received sunscreen droplets will be washed into the ocean, thus contaminating the water. Finally, when you shower to remove your sunscreen, the water that flows into the sewage system eventually flows into the waterways, hence also contaminating the water.[1]

This is such a severe environmental issue that some countries have banned sunscreens containing these chemicals (oxybenzone and octinoxate) from their territory.


This is such a severe environmental issue that some countries have banned sunscreens containing these chemicals (oxybenzone and octinoxate) from their territory. As of January 1, 2021, these sunscreens are prohibited in Hawaii to save the country’s coral reefs. Some travel agencies also require tourists to use only environmentally friendly sunscreens when traveling to some popular destinations, such as Mexico.[2]

Banning sunscreens altogether is impossible, as they significantly reduce the risks of skin cancer in humans. However, there are environmentally friendly alternatives. Instead of using sunscreens with oxybenzone or octinoxate, choose one that contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as ingredients. ATTITUDE sun care products do contain these environmentally friendly ingredients.

Ultimately, there are alternatives to sunscreens. According to dermatologists, wearing clothes is just as effective as sunscreen in protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays. Some swimsuits cover the entire body, much like those worn by professional swimmers. Alternatively, you can use an old, faded t-shirt that has been in the back of a drawer for years instead of throwing it in the garbage!

Sunscreens and Their Use on Children

Opinions on the toxicity of sunscreens on humans are wildly divergent, and there does not seem to be a consensus on the subject. Studies on the matter have been done in laboratories, on animals, and sometimes with large amounts of sunscreen (more than what the average person usually applies on themselves).

Professionals who recommend not using chemical sunscreens on children indicate that certain substances — such as octyl-methoxycinnamate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor — were more easily absorbed by the skin. In the animals that were tested, these chemicals could lead to hormonal changes. However, no study demonstrates that these hormonal changes may occur in humans. Nevertheless, in doubt, many professionals prefer to recommend avoiding sunscreens with these chemicals on children until more is known about the situation — while others are questioning this recommendation.[3]

Considering that you may want to change your purchase habits for your sunscreen, why not take this opportunity to change your habits when buying sunscreen for your children?

Avoid These Sunscreen Ingredients:[3]
  • Oxybenzone (BP-3 ou BZ-3)
  • Benzophenones (BP-1, BP-2, BP-3 ou BZ-3, Escalol 567, Uvinul M40, Uvasorb Met)
  • Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
  • 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC)
  • PABA (the majority of sunscreen products no longer contain this ingredient)

ATTITUDE is the answer!

Are you unsure of which sun care product you should use instead of your current one? We offer a wide variety of ATTITUDE sun products in our online store. Not only do these products comply with the industry’s most stringent quality and environmental standards, but their packaging is made of biodegradable cardboard.

Made in Canada, ATTITUDE products are non-animal tested and vegan. If you are looking for the perfect sunscreen for your next vacation (or for playing in your backyard), get one of ATTITUDE’s mineral sun sticks (SPF 30).

They are available unscented, or with orange blossom or tropical scents. You can also buy the Mineral Moisturizer Face Stick to protect your face while also protecting the environment!


1* Les crèmes solaires sont nocives pour les océans (mais des alternatives existent) :
2* Les crèmes solaires sont nocives pour les océans (mais des alternatives existent) :
3* Toxiques, les produits solaires? :