Hawaii’s sunscreen ban is raising the bar on sunscreen safety

 turtle swimming in sea

Growing concern over the impact that toxic ingredients in some sunscreens have on marine life compelled Hawaii to push legislation that will ban companies from selling and distributing products containing oxybenzone in the state.

The bill was signed by Gov. David Ige in 2018, three years after a landmark study found that this chemical negatively affects the reproduction and growth of corals. Oxybenzone washes off the skin of wearers when they swim, and is absorbed by corals. Aerosols often spray a large amount of sunscreen onto sand where it’s pulled into the oceans.

The ban is set to take effect on January 1, 2021, at which point no consumer may use over-the-counter sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a UV absorbing ingredient that is found in 70% of sunscreens. However, because the law only prohibits oxybenzone, some manufacturers are switching out these chemicals with almost identical alternatives that could be just as damaging to coral reefs.

Kiki Pu Chung, founder of Hawaii medicinal said: “It’s a little frustrating. They say ‘reef safe’ because they took out oxybenzone, but they still have avobenzone, octisalate, and all of the chemical cousins.”

Chung hopes that as the ban continues to be a hot topic, it will encourage other nations to follow Hawaii’s example and clamp down hard on coral-reef damaging chemicals. His sentiment is shared by State Senator Mike Gabbard, who introduced the bill. “This legislation brings attention to the problem and offers a solution that other jurisdictions can be inspired by,” Gabbard said. “It’s likely other coastal states will be taking a look at this legislation, given the importance they place on protecting marine life and their tourism industries.”

It’s important to note that the ban does not mean tourists should stop wearing sunscreen, which helps prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from penetrating the skin. Instead, they should be mindful of what sunscreen they slather on before they take a dip in the ocean. There are plenty of natural alternatives, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, that are safe to use on the skin and are not harmful to coral reefs. And, the results are just the same for the user.

Avoid the potentially harmful ingredients in many mainstream sunscreens and opt for a safe option with our natural, chemical-free sunscreens in both SPF 30 and SPF 50.