Maybe you have kind of heard about, or heard it mentioned, though really didn’t pay attention. What is it? Sunscreen bans and is something you should pay attention to. Probably, and possibly there could be more areas banning some sunscreens.

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Most recent is Key West and they are taking first step in banning some screen screens that experts are saying damage coral reefs. Key West City Commission voted to ban the sale of sunscreen that contains these two ingredients – oxybenzone and octinoxate. There is continuing growing evidence that says these ingredients harm coral reefs.

In Florida, the website for the South Florida Reef Ambassador Initiative, which falls under the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, tells divers to “Avoid sunscreens with Oxybenzone and Avobenzone. The benzones are compounds that are lethal to coral reproduction in very small amounts.”

Experts who have studied the issue say sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are minerals, also block ultraviolet rays. They create a barrier on the skin that deflect the sun’s rays .

A study published last year in the American Academy of Dermatology acknowledged that there is “emerging evidence that chemical sunscreen ingredients” could affect coral reefs, but said further study is warranted. Dermatologists are concerned that a ban of these ingredients could have an impact on skin cancer rates. Read more here:

Hawaii was the first state to ban some sunscreens to take effect January 2021. You can see this at

Hawaii is the first state in the US to ban the sale of sunscreen containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, ushering in a new era of reef safe sunscreen. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2021, but many visitors and residents are already trading in their non-reef safe sun protection.

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Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two ingredients believed to contribute to coral bleaching. When coral bleaches, it is not dead, but under significant stress and subject to increased mortality levels. According to the National Park Service, 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reefs every year. These now banned chemicals are believed to be one of the contributing factors to the coral reef destruction. Most popular sunscreen brands are known to contain these dangerous chemicals. These brands include Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic and Banana Boat, to name a few. However, we are starting to see a trend of these big brands creating new, less toxic sunscreen lines such as Banana Boat’s Simply Protect which is made without oxybenzone & parabens.

Choosing the right sunscreen is important not only to protect skin from burns and cancer, but also to preserve our oceans and marine life. Selecting a sunscreen that is both effective and reef safe can be overwhelming.

Here are some sunscreen ingredients to avoid:

Avoid sunscreens containing petrolatum, commonly known as mineral oil, which takes years to biodegrade, and are known to be harmful or fatal to aquatic life and waterfowl.

Avoid sunscreens with high content of Titanium Dioxide. This mineral does not biodegrade and is found to react in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxide which is harmful to all sea life.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate, the two chemicals recently banned in Hawaii and are believed to cause coral bleaching. Key West, Florida is deciding whether to ban sunscreens containing these also.

What is some reef safe sunscreens then?


Mama Kuleana Waterproof SPF 30 Reef-safe Sunscreen

Kokua Sun Care Hawaiian SPF 50 Natural Zinc Sunscreen

Little Hands Hawaii SPF 35+ All-natural and Organic Sunscreen

Manda Organic SPF 50 Sun Paste

 Raw Love SPF 35 All-natural Mineral Sunscreen

 Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen

 All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion

 Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion

 Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen

Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream

Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen

Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock

Loving Naturals Clear Body SPF 30+ All-natural Sunscreen

Reef Safe Oxybenzone Free Biodegradable SPF 50 Sunscreen

Banana Boat Simply Protect SPF 50+ Sunscreen (spray, not lotion)

The first country to ban some sunscreens

The first country to ban some sunscreens was Palau. The Pacific island nation, an archipelago made up of over 500 islands and home to some of the most stunning coral reefs in the world, will become the very first country in the world to ban sunscreens that are harmful to reefs. It’s a whole country ban like that imposed by Hawaii, which became the first US state to ban sunscreens deemed harmful to reefs starting in 2021. Like Hawaii, Palau’s ban comes into effect in 2020. Palau’s government has reportedly signed legislation that restricts the sale of sunscreen products that contain chemicals considered harmful to reefs. Anyone caught with these products is looking at a sizeable $1,000 fine.

This doesn’t mean stop using sunscreens

According to Australia, not so fast on stopping use of sunscreens in their country. Source: TheNewDaily

The New Daily suggests that if Australia was to consider similar legislation, up to 40% of products available here would be affected. The Hawaiian bill was proposed by state Democrat Senator Mike Gabbard, reports Hawaii’s Star-Advertiser, in a bid to protect coral reefs. “Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens,” Senator Gabbard told the paper. “When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow. This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.” It is believed that the sunscreen ingredients may be linked to coral bleaching. ASMI’s Regulatory and Legal Director Steve Scarff says that the organization, however, is not convinced. “This does not appear to be an evidence-based outcome and we note reports that the Hawaii Medical Association, the Hawaii Dermatological Society, the Hawaii Skin Cancer Coalition, and the Hawaii Department of Health have also expressed concerns with this legislation,” he said in a statement. “There is insufficient evidence that the use of sunscreens which include these active ingredients is damaging corals reefs. 

“The evidence that has underpinned this decision cannot be relied on to predict outcomes in the real world. This ban also ignores some very real and confounding factors known to be causing coral decline around the world, those of rising water temperatures, agricultural runoff, sewage, and overfishing. “At the same time there is very good evidence that wearing sunscreen is an effective measure in preventing skin cancer and that at least two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. “Members of the public should not be deterred from using sunscreen. “There is insufficient evidence to warrant a departure from current sunscreen regulation in Australia.”


Here is our gist on the sunscreen bans. If you are in the areas that have the bans, abide by the ban and respect it. Just choose a safe for reefs sunscreen when in these areas. Ourselves, if we are hearing that some sunscreens can damage reefs, we would think what could they do to our skin? Suggestion would be when you by sunscreens check ingredients to make sure they do not contain Oxybenzone and octinoxate. There are many that are very safe that do not contain these.

Will have to wait and see if we see more states banning these sunscreens, or countries.

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