If you are looking to travel to Hawaii for vacation in the next three years, make sure you do not pack your sunscreen because, in 2021, chemicals prominently found in around 50% of these protective lotions will be banned. Along with Palau, which has legislation against sunscreen already in effect, this state in the US will no longer permit sunscreen to be worn on beaches due to its damaging effects on the coral reef surrounding these islands.
Chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene and some parabens that are found in sunscreen make nearby coral more susceptible to bleaching. This phenomenon occurs when these harmful substances prevent algae from residing on reefs, rendering the coral white. Algae is very important to the growth of coral, as they are its primary source of nutrients and without it, they become more vulnerable. Not only does sunscreen damage corals’ source of food, but it also stunts its growth and regeneration.
Hawaii and Palau have made important moves in preserving both their environments and their tourism industry. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have already had to shut down many of their beaches because their coral reefs have already died.
As a redhead, sunscreen to me has always been a must, but now that I am aware of the negative effects, I will have to look out for brands that exclude these noxious substances and suggest you do the same. Sun shirts and hats are great alternatives that will save both your skin and the planet. Preventing your skin from sun damage is very important, but make sure you are doing it responsibly!