Chemicals in Sunscreen: What You Need to Know about the Ban on SPF Ingredients in Hawaii
Recently, lawmakers in Hawaii passed a bill that, if approved by the state’s governor, will ban the sale of any sunscreens that contain certain chemical ingredients. The motivation for this bill comes as more evidence is brought to light linking these ingredients with the damage and destruction of coral reefs and other marine life. In an effort to preserve Hawaii’s beautiful oceans and wildlife, lawmakers feel that it is necessary to remove these chemical ingredients from its waters.
So what does this mean for Hawaii residents and environmentally-conscious people in other states? While you must still wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UV damage, you can change the type of sunscreen you’re using to help the environment. This article breaks down the details of the new ban and offers suggestions for chemical SPF alternatives.
Which SPF Ingredients Are Included in the Ban?
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the two chemical SPF ingredients affected by the ban, as they have been shown to kill and damage coral reefs and other plant and animal life. According to Hawaii lawmakers, these ingredients are not only a problem for coral reefs when people who wear them swim in the ocean. Even when you come home and take a shower, that water eventually ends up in waterways, where it can harm wildlife.
Unlike physical sunscreens, these chemical sunscreen ingredients can be absorbed into your skin (and by plants and animals). They have also been linked with possible hormone effects in humans, and some people are allergic to them, causing burning or stinging when applied to the skin.
Which Sunscreens Are Safe for My Skin and the Environment?
Despite the recent ban on these two common sunscreen ingredients, there are still plenty of other very effective options out there to lower your risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and other detrimental effects of UV light.
Dr. Baumann suggests using a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide. Zinc is an essential trace element that has been used in facial powders and other personal care products for ages. It is also found in a wide variety of foods, like beef, chicken, dairy products, lentils, and whole grain cereals. When applied to the skin, zinc oxide has also been shown to protect against broad-spectrum UVA and UVB rays.
Unlike oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are absorbed into the skin, zinc oxide sits on top of the skin and creates a physical barrier so UV rays cannot penetrate through and harm your skin. Because of this, zinc sunscreens can leave a white film on your skin. However, zinc sunscreen formulas have advanced in recent years to help reduce this effect.
EltaMD Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead of chemical ingredients. Many people with acne-prone or sensitive skin types find that this sunscreen provides great sun protection, while remaining gentle on their skin.
To keep your lips protected from the sun, you can use a mineral-based SPF lip balm like Coola Mineral Liplux SPF 30. These balms come in a variety of different tints, so you can add a pop of color to your look while protecting your lips.
The initiatives taken by the state of Hawaii to help preserve its beautiful natural landscape and coral reefs is a first in history, and will likely be followed by other states in the future. However, it is crucial that you still wear sunscreen, even if that means switching to a different brand or product than you’re used to. Wearing any type of sunscreen is still safer than wearing no sunscreen at all, and if you have a prescription for a sunscreen that contains the banned ingredients, you will still be able to use it in Hawaii.