Sunscreen is often used in attempt to protect us from the harmful rays of the sun. However, sunscreen itself can be harmful to our bodies depending on what chemicals are used to make and preserve it. In fact, these chemicals are so harmful that Hawaii banned two of them. On May 1st, Hawaii state legislature passed a bill that will ban sunscreen products containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.
These chemicals are very commonly used and are found in sunscreens across the United States. When tested by EWG, Oxybenzone was found in 65% of non-mineral sunscreens. Even worse, it has been found in the blood of 96% of Americans by the CDC. These are both huge percentages which prove how widely used it is. This is significant because these chemicals are damaging to both our bodies and even the coral reefs in Hawaii.
Both of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors. This means that they mimic and disrupt our hormones. Hormones are our chemical messengers that send signals across our bodies. So, when they are disrupted, instances of short and long term negative health effects increase. Oxybenzone has been found to cause allergic reactions and is even linked to lower testosterone levels in adolescent boys. Octinoxate mimics the hormone estrogen. These hormones regulate many processes in the body and even small disruptions can be harmful.
By creating this new regulation, Hawaii is encouraging companies to make safer and more effective alternatives. While this is good for Hawaii, many states do not have this legislation so it is important to read labels to look for these chemicals. Using mineral sunscreens, hats, and sitting in the shade are all great alternatives which can help to prevent sun exposure without exposing yourself to harmful chemicals.
By Sara Frawley