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Hawaii Bans Popular Sunscreens For Their Coral-Damaging Ingredients: Here’s What To Use Instead

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Hawaii just banned sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate for their coral-damaging effects. Mineral sunscreens are deemed as sound alternatives to use for sun protection, especially among babies and toddlers.   ( Pixabay )

Hawaii has just become the first state to ban sunscreens containing two ingredients linked to coral reef damage. What alternative forms of sun protection are available?

On July 3, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed Senate Bill 2571, which bans the sale, offering for sale, and distribution of sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Citing scientific studies, the new law was created to protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems from being seriously damaged by the two chemicals, which can come from swimmers and sewage waste.

The ban won't be in action until 2021, however, this already induced some pushback, NPR reported. Some 70 percent of sunscreens sold in the United States contain oxybenzone, according to Consumers Healthcare Products Association, a group representing sunscreen manufacturers. On the other hand, up to 8 percent have octinoxate.

Alternative Sunscreens To Use

So, what should consumers do when they are constantly urged to use sunscreen every day, especially when swimming or sweating often?

The good news, according to experts, is there are thousands of more sunscreen brands to choose from. In the country, there are two basic kinds of sunscreen ingredients: chemical blockers for protecting skin against UV rays, and minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for reflecting those rays away from the skin.

The second type, mineral sunscreens, are a good option if one is concerned about sunscreen effects on marine life, as the subjects of the Hawaii ban are the first type. Mineral sunscreens that don’t rinse off easily in the water are recommended.

Other Sunscreen Tips

UV rays can damage or burn skin in just 15 minutes, so it’s a must for everyone to get protection, especially babies and toddlers having fun in the sun. Mineral sunscreens tend to be milder on young skin and pose a decreased risk of irritation.

“Newer formulations are much finer, user-friendly and less cakey,” pediatric dermatologist Dr. Kalyani Marathe told Today, referring to zinc oxide or titanium dioxide SPF that used to lead a white tinge on the skin.

There are also sunscreens designed for sensitive skin, such as a fragrance-free formula or a sunscreen stick created for the face.

If concerned about a potential reaction to sunscreen, a new sunscreen can be tested on the inner part of the arm twice a day for one week. Some signs to look out for are itching, redness, and blistering, although actual sunscreen allergy is deemed rare.

Other handy sun protection measures include staying indoors during peak sunlight hours and wearing enough protective clothing and accessories such as hats.

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