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Hawaii has become the first US state to ban sunscreen to protect the reef

A beach in Hawaii with palm trees and a view of the ocean.

In a bid to protect its coral reefs, Hawaii has just banned sunscreens containing harmful chemicals. In doing so, Hawaii has shown the world it’s not playing around when it comes to protecting its environment…

We know what you’re thinking. In a state like Hawaii, where the sun beams down on the stunning landscapes, sunscreen is an absolute must. And you’re not wrong. But most sunscreens contain both oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that have shockingly harmful impacts on both the marine and land ecosystems.

With the high amount of visitors and residents alike slapping on the sunscreen under the Hawaiian sun, it was having a devastating effect for the same ecosystem and environment that people from all over the world came to marvel. 


A group of yellow fish on a Hawaiian coral reef.

These two chemicals were found to have direct effects on coral, both shortening their life spans, bleaching them and genetically modifying them, as well as other organisms that rely on the reef for food and shelter. It’s also shown to increase reproductive diseases in a range of sea life, from parrotfish to the dogs of the sea world – seals. 

The decision by Hawaiian lawmakers to ban sunscreen is monumental. Not just because it’s a step in the right direction, and it will actually give the coral reef a chance to recover and reverse the effects – but because it’s sending a strong message of zero tolerance when it comes to damaging the ecosystems, and contributing to global warming. 

For us consumers, it’s also a sobering eye-opener to just how little we pay attention to what’s actually in the products we slather onto our skin on the daily. The threat of skin cancer if we don’t protect our skin is pretty darn real, so using sunscreen is ridiculously important. Luckily, the world is inundated with eco-friendly sunscreen brands that are just as effective, and contain zero nasties. What can you do to help? Simple: switch to a natural sunscreen. Better for the environment, and infinitely better for your skin. It’s a win-win. 


A bottle of sunscreen sitting on a wooden table in Hawaii.

Hopefully, this will encourage us to think a little deeper about the products we use, and how they affect our environment. But for now, Hawaii is leading by example, and we’re LIVING for it. 


Want to see for yourself why these spectacular reefs are so precious? Check out our awe-inspiring Hawaiian adventures.