Updated: Feb 27
Every skincare products you use will either end up going into your skin, into the ground or into the water supply. Water waste systems, sewage systems and filtration technology aren’t always able to break down ingredients and clean out toxins, this leads to chemicals making their way into marine environments and sludge used as fertilisers for common crops.
There are several ingredients that have known negative impacts on the environment but are prevalent in lots of everyday cosmetics such as toothpastes, sunscreens, deodorants and body washes. An example of this is oxybenzone, a common sunscreen ingredient which is known to be extremely harmful to coral reefs and oceanic ecosystems. In Hawaii, levels of oxybenzone surrounding coral reefs was found at concentrations 12 times higher than the level at which it impacts juvenile coral. Fortunately, in Hawaii they’re banning sunscreens with oxybenzone, leaving consumers to use marine-friendly sunscreens.
Similarly, Triclosan, used for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, accumulates in the cells of marine mammals, restricting their growth, causing impairment of vital functions, or else killing them. Triclosan is also found in our drinking water and is thought to be of similar threats to humans. Unfortunately, as with many potentially harmful ingredients, there has not been enough investigation into the risk it poses to people.
It can be difficult to know which products are good for your health and the environment. While we should all try to understand the ingredients in our products, scientific jargon and confusing research can make that difficult for the majority of us. The good news is that there are more eco-friendly and natural alternatives to common cosmetics such as dental care, skincare and cleaning products.