By now we all know that the tiny micro-beads in our cleansers are awful for the ocean, but there’s a new skin-care product we should watch out for: sunscreen. While everyone should be wearing sunscreen everyday (and reapplying often!), there are some ingredients that aren’t environmentally friendly. The state of Hawaii just passed a bill to help protect oceans and coral reefs from chemical damage.
The primary culprits are octinoxate and oxybenzone, which are in almost 65 percent of non-mineral sunscreens, according to the Environmental Working Group. The two ingredients are said to “cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms,” and when nearly 14,000 tons of sunscreen makes its way into the ocean and coral reefs, it adds up.
On Tuesday, Hawaii lawmakers voted to ban sunscreens that are made with these harsh ingredients in an effort to protect the state’s diminishing coral reefs and others around the world. According to the bill, “these chemicals have also been shown to degrade corals’ resiliency and ability to adjust to climate change factors and inhibit recruitment of new corals.” The bill also stated that those with prescriptions for them would still be able to purchase sunscreens that contain octinoxate and oxybenzone.
However, some experts think this might cause some confusion and make people think wearing sunscreen isn’t important. Henry Lim, the former president of the American Academy of Dermatology, told USA Today sunscreens without these two ingredients aren’t as effective. And Karen Glanz from University of Hawaii’s Cancer Center told CBS News “reef-friendly products” can be eight times as expensive as standard sunscreens.
The bill still needs to be approved by Hawaii’s governor, but if passed, the ban would become effective in January 2021.
If you want to make a switch, check out this list for the best natural sunscreens.