Hawaii’s law banning the sale of over the counter sunscreens containing the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate went into effect on January 1, 2021. These two active ingredients in many sunscreen products have been most widely investigated and regarded as being toxic to our ocean environment and marine life.
Scarier still, researchers are finding evidence that these and possibly more than a dozen chemical ingredients used as UV filters in sunscreens may have negative consequences on people’s health as well. Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to evaluate the impact of more than a dozen chemicals used in sunscreen formulations.
But, this should not prevent you from using sunscreens. Applying sunscreen daily protects you from harmful UV rays that cause skin damage, premature aging of the skin, unwanted pigmentation, and skin cancer.
So, what should you look for when buying your next bottle of sunscreen? There are plenty of sunscreens out there to choose from that will not only protect your skin, but are reef friendly and not on the Hawaii Sunscreen Ban list.
· Mineral Sunscreen – The active ingredients in mineral or physical sunscreen is zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients work by physically blocking or shielding your skin from harmful UV rays. Make sure it is non-nano (meaning bigger than 100 nanaometers) in order to be considered safe for the ocean. Also, these two ingredients are the only reef safe sunscreen ingredients recognized as generally safe and effective by the FDA.
· SPF – Look for an SPF of at least 30 and make sure the bottle says “Broad Spectrum” which indicates UVA as well as UVB protection.
· Double check the ingredients – Make sure the ingredient list does not include or contain any oxybenzone or octinoxate. (Note: The Hawaii sunscreen ban prohibits the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing these ingredients unless you have a prescription. It also allows visitors to bring their own sunscreens with the banned chemicals into the state.)
Finally, remember that you should apply sunscreen generously and liberally to all exposed skin. Most people do not apply enough. You can also protect yourself from skin damage and potential skin cancers by seeking shady areas and by wearing hats and protective clothing.