Why Hawaii Banned 80% Of Sunscreens (Including One You Probably Own)
Hawaii made a big change to sunscreens starting this year.
The change is SO MASSIVE that nearly 80% of sunscreens on the market are no longer allowed in Hawaii.
This includes popular household brands that you probably have — Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat.
Specifically, Hawaii state legislature passed a statewide ban effective on two commonly used sunscreen chemicals: Oxybenzone and octinoxate.
After years of research, Hawaii banned these common sunscreen chemicals because of the potential harm they cause the environment.
And, these chemicals also have increasing evidence they can harm your health.
Here’s what you need to know about the ban, and what to do about it…
Banned chemicals: What does the FDA say is safe?
In a 2019 report released by the Food and Drug Administration (“Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use”), the FDA explains its rationale for whether or not a sunscreen ingredient is recognized as safe and effective.
In the report, there are only two ingredients on the market today that qualify as “generally safe and effective”: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
But many sunscreen manufacturers don’t use these ingredients. Instead, they choose to use chemical compounds.
The FDA report attacks chemical compounds directly.
In the report, the FDA noted that the risks associated with aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate outweigh their benefits:
“In the case of trolamine salicylate, these risks include the potential for serious detrimental health effects (including bleeding) caused by the anti- coagulation effects of salicylic acid and increased risk of salicylate toxicity when this ingredient is used in sunscreens. For PABA, the risks include significant rates of allergic and photoallergic skin reactions, as well as cross-sensitization with structurally similar compounds.”
If your sunscreen is filled with words you don’t recognize, you’re putting yourself at risk.
Even sunscreens that claim to be “natural” are filled with harsh chemicals that can cause health problems to you (and the environment).
The report didn’t stop at aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate either.
This same report also noted that other sunscreen chemicals — including Hawaii’s now-banned Oxybenzone and Octinoxate found in 80% of U.S. sunscreens — lacked sufficient data to determine whether or not they’re safe.
In other words, when you use the common, household sunscreens that contain these two chemicals… you could be causing harm to your health.
Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: Why are they harmful?
The two ingredients that Hawaii banned — oxybenzone and octinoxate — are chemical filters which absorb UV radiation.
Those chemicals differ from the FDA-approved zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These approved ingredients are physical UV filters that primarily reflect or scatter UV radiation.
Your sunscreen ingredients not only matter for how they handle the sun…
It also matters for your health.
When you put sunscreen ingredients on your skin, they’re not just staying on your skin.
In recent years, a growing body of data has suggested that some sunscreen ingredients can be absorbed through the skin — to a greater extent than previously thought.
Data has shown the presence of sunscreen applied to the skin in human breast milk, amniotic fluid, urine, and blood plasma.
Because the FDA is unsure about the chemical safeness of your store-bought sunscreen, your health is a big concern. There could be the potential for reproductive, developmental, or carcinogenic effects.
Why did Hawaii ban Oxybenzone and Octinoxate?
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are potentially harmful enough to your own health to avoid.
But, it’s not just your health which caught Hawaii’s attention.
Hawaii banned these two harmful chemical ingredients because of concerns they may be harming one of their biggest tourist attractions…
Studies by Craig Downs, a biologist who runs the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Lab, and his colleagues inspired Hawaii lawmakers to propose the ban to protect the reefs.
They point to Downs' 2015 study published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology where he says the chemicals act as an endocrine disruptor to juvenile coral: “When they come across oxybenzone, they just encase themselves in their own skeleton, effectively killing them,” he says.
In other words, these chemicals make coral reefs sink to the bottom of the ocean and die.
Even a small oxybenzone concentration of around 400 parts per trillion (ppt) over several days is enough to induce coral bleaching in warm waters.
The white coral reef signifies coral reef bleaching. Unfortunately, when coral reefs die, fish and other aquatic life often die as well.
A 2015 study of coral reefs in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Israel determined oxybenzone “leaches the coral of its nutrients and bleaches it white. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife.” Even a small drop is enough to damage delicate corals.
At the time, researchers estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion end up in coral reefs around the world each year.
With 80% of household sunscreens in the U.S. containing these two harmful chemicals, there are a lot of reefs that get damaged.
Does Albedo use Oxybenzone and Octinoxate?
From day one, we made Albedo to be a better, safer, healthier sunscreen — for you and the environment.
We only use 100% natural and plant based ingredients to better protect sensitive skin and keep the coral reefs and oceans safe.
With Albedo, we’ve developed a patent-pending sunscreen formula that uses a combination of zinc oxide, chlorophyll (what makes plants green) and beta carotenes (what makes carrots orange) to provide natural and complete UV protection.
Albedo’s formula is not only completely safe but it works better than any other sunscreen natural sunscreen. Independent lab testing has shows Albedo sunscreen provides 60% greater coverage in the high UVA region compared to other zinc based products.
Check out Albedo products here. Made for surfers, by surfers we offer 100% natural, water-resistant, SPF 30+ triple-protection sunscreen (and after-surf moisturizer).