In May 2018 Hawaii’s Governor passed a law, the first of its kind in the country, banning sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to coral reefs. This law will go into effect January1, 2021. After that date, sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate will be prohibited for sale or distribution in Hawaii. Travelers may still bring in other sunscreen but it is strongly encouraged for the health and well being of our oceans that EVERYONE abide by these guidelines.
Sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide will still be allowed. There are a number of sunscreens marketed as reef safe which are a good start. Unfortunately the FDA does not regulate the terminology “reef safe” so it is important for consumers to be extra vigilant and buy the appropriate sunscreens. There are a number of companies in Hawaii and online that sell true reef safe sunscreens.
Environmentally conscious groups like the Pacific
Whale Foundation and Maui Nui Research Council are good places to get information and to purchase safe sunscreens. There are also a number of options on Amazon.
Reef safe sunscreens are typically more expensive than the normal brands most of us use. A suggestion would be to use the other brands when not going into the ocean.
Thank you for doing your part to ensure that our reefs stay healthy!