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Chemical Sunscreen Bans Are on the Rise
If you follow our newsletters, blogs or social media, you’re probably aware of the reef-safe movement and have an idea of what it means to be reef safe. Studies on reef health show chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and octinoxate harm corals by causing bleaching and death. This can happen even at very low concentrations of these chemicals. The damage these chemicals can inflict could have far-reaching impacts. Declining reef health could endanger marine life and international food systems, as well as the economies of reef-tourism destinations.
To protect their reefs, Hawaii was the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreen containing these chemicals. In the months following, Key West, FL, Bonaire and the Republic of Palau followed suit. Legislators proposed a ban at the state level in Florida, and California is in early stages of proposing similar legislation as well.
These updates have made reef-safe sunscreen a prominent topic. Online search trends show that people are searching “reef safe” more now than ever before. This is great news for our oceans! But because it’s such an important issue, we want to make sure everyone truly understands what it means to be reef safe.
So, What Does it Mean to Be Reef Safe?
Scientific jargon isn’t easy to understand, so we’ll keep it simple! Reef-safe sunscreen:
- Contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients
- Does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, the two main chemicals targeted in legislative bans
- Does not use octocrylene and other chemical actives, which could also be harmful to marine life
Currently, “reef safe” isn’t a strictly regulated term, and no testing is required to prove a product isn’t harmful. We do know, however, that zinc and titanium are safe for the reefs. All of this means it’s really important to check the active ingredients on the label and make sure a product is only using minerals to protect against the sun.
Safe for the Reefs… and People!
In addition to the reef safe legislation, the FDA recently proposed new sunscreen regulations. They’re aiming to bring non-prescription, over-the-counter sunscreens up to date with the latest science. This would better ensure consumers have access to safe and effective sun care options. Their proposal recognized only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE). The FDA is listing two chemical sunscreens as non-GRASE due to safety issues. Twelve other chemical sunscreens are currently under review to determine if they can be considered safe, including oxybenzone and octinoxate. Some retailers are reacting to this by only selling mineral sunscreens like Goddess Garden.
Goddess Garden: A Category Leader
Goddess Garden has and always will be committed to eco-friendly options. We use only gentle yet effective minerals to provide SPF coverage in our sunscreens. Since minerals come from the earth, they can return there safely without putting undue stress on the environment. As part of our ongoing dedication to offering products that are good for people and the planet, we:
- Provide only reef-safe mineral formulas
- Are already compliant with all new legislation and anticipated expansions
- Meet FDA ingredient guidelines as being generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE)
How Can You Help the Reefs?
You can help by choosing products that are reef safe! You can help guide the industry by voting with your dollars and only supporting products that use only mineral actives and are safe, not just for the consumer, but for sea life as well. We’re working hard to make it easier for everyone to make a better choice for our reefs. In the end though, individuals can do a lot of good by embracing better options for themselves and the Earth!
- What is Oxybenzone and Why Is It in Sunscreen?
- What is Octinoxate and Is It Safe in Sunscreen?
- Reef-Safe: Why Saving the Reefs in Hawaii Became My Rallying Cry
- Why We Care About the Coral Reefs
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