Fun Under the Sun: Sun Protection and Its Issues

Fun Under the Sun: Sun Protection and Its Issues

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
-Henry James

Sun protection is a popular subject as the warmer weather approaches and sun protection brands broadcast the need to apply sunblock to protect against harmful rays. UV Rays, ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun, are a leading cause to cancer and other harmful skin diseases. Protection against the sun is crucial to maintain skin health yet nature, such as the coral reef, suffers from the spread of sunblock in the water. Hawaii has actively created legislation to ban the sale of chemical sunscreens on their islands, as it is proved to be damaging to their coral reef system.  The bill is expected to go into effect January 1, 2021. This legislation wouldn’t prevent the online sale of the sun lotions nor would it prevent tourists from bringing banned formulas to the islands.  Two sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate are proved to be harmful to the reef.  These chemicals damage the coral DNA, bleach their appearance, hurts the coral’s ability to reproduce and even prompts free swimming larvae to entomb themselves.

How does this happen? Well the sunscreen from swimming and beach dwellers alike can come off their skin and be transferred into the water. In populated swimming areas, sunscreen can easily build up in coves in the water.  About 14,000 tons of sunscreen is estimated to enter and build up in the ocean annually. The concentrated about is found in Hawaii and parts of the Caribbean.  The legislation would prevent many large sunscreen companies, such as Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropics.

What Are the Alternatives?

It’s no surprise that the use of hats and light-weight cardigans or t-shirts are great ways to prevent sunburn but it isn’t the easiest to bare if the temperature on the beach your’re visiting is extremely high. If you choose to go this route, wearing white better reflects the sunlight instead of black, which absorbs the light.  Natural oils on the market boosting sun-protection varying from SPF 20 to SPF 40 include carrot seed oil and coconut oil. There are many natural sun-protection products on the market which consumers can find if they choose in many popular stores. 


What About the Aftercare?

So you got a sunburn, we’ve all been there, but now how do you treat your sun-damaged skin? Aloe Vera is great for cooling the damaged area from the heat trapped within your skin. It also works great before going out into the sun and has the same effects as coconut oil with the potential to block 20% of sunlight from reaching your skin. You can find Aloe Vera pre-packaged with healing medicines to ease the burns. If you’re lucky enough to have the plant at home, opening a leaf and spreading the pure aloe on the injured area would also help ease the pain from the burn. Applying Vitamin E on the site would also help prevent and treat dehydration the burn might cause on your skin and can be applied directly on the area.  Of course cold water or ice packs help temporarily ease the pain and discomfort you feel. 

Tell Me More:

Have you ever wondered what the coral reef sounds like? Here’s how you can listen:

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A list of approved sunscreens in Hawaii

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After-care solutions

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I’ll leave you with this beautiful water. I hope you are all looking forward to the warmer weather wherever you are in this world.  As the warmer weather approaches us here in New York, it is important to remember that it is better to be safe than sorry when pertaining to your skin protection as well as the environment’s protection.  Have a safe and happy summer in the months yet to come.

Written by Katelyn Goetten

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