Hawaii Bans Sunscreen: Now What?

Hawaii Bans Sunscreen: Now What? | Spectrum Dermatology, Scottsdale

Hawaii Bans Sunscreen: Now What?

After several years of education, the general public has widely adopted sunscreen usage. Sun damage is often much more than what we can see, although severe sunburns are most often linked to melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer). However, Hawaii has now banned sunscreen because studies show it kills coral reefs. Other states may follow suit. How can you protect yourself when sunscreen is illegal, and you want to do your part to help the environment?

Hawaii passed a bill in May 2018 that prohibits over the counter sunscreens with common (in sunscreen) chemicals that may destroy nearby coral reefs. If Governor David Ige also signs the revolutionary bill, it will become effective January of 2021. According to Senator Mike Gabbard, “This is a first in the world law … Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens.”

The two dangerous ingredients are oxybenzone and octinoxate, used in 3,500+ products made by the most common sunscreen companies like Coppertone and Banana Boat. (Those with prescription sunscreens will still be allowed to buy and use them). A tiny amount can damage fragile corals, with scientists estimating 14,000 tons of these lotions find their way to coral reefs.

Alternatives For OTC Sunscreens

Fortunately, there are alternatives. Check sunscreen labels and choose lesser-known products without these two ingredients. For those traveling to Hawaii, they will be widely available. There are also a variety of homemade, natural products that are preferred by those with sensitive skin or want to avoid chemicals for a variety of reasons. This can include coconut oil, red raspberry seed oil, and aloe vera.

You might not be able (or comfortable) to cover up when you’re in the ocean. However, when you’re not going for a swim or playing water sports, cover up in light-colored loose layers with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Protecting yourself doesn’t need to always require sunscreen, especially when the environment suffers for it. For more information on protecting your skin, call Spectrum Dermatology at 480-948-8400.