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Hawaii Proposes Banning ALL Chemical Sunscreens

by kelly / February, 12 2020 01:30

Photo of a Hawaiian beach

Hawaii legislators recently introduced bills to ban the sale of ALL chemical sunscreens in the state. These bills expand upon a bill Hawaii’s legislature passed in 2018 that bans the sale of chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate (without a prescription issued by a licensed healthcare provider).

No Chemical Sunscreens Allowed for Sale in Hawaii

The new bills (Senate Bill 2278 and House Bill 2248) would restrict the sale of sunscreens with ingredients that are considered harmful to coral reef and human health.

The legislation defines this as only sunscreens with ingredients that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally recognizes as safe and effective (GRASE). It proposes that only those that meet these requirements can be sold or distributed in Hawaii, starting January 1, 2023. Today all chemical sunscreens are not recognized by the FDA as GRASE. They all fall into another category – although research is being done that might lead to them being categorize as GRASE in the future.

FDA Says Insufficient Data to Determine Chemical Sunscreen’s Safety

For those that are new, all sunscreens sold in the US are regulated by the FDA. In fact, sunscreens are considered over-the-counter drugs by the FDA.

The FDA categorizes sunblock ingredients into three categories:

  • Category I: Generally recognized as safe and effective for the claimed therapeutic indication
  • Category II: Not generally recognized as safe and effective or unacceptable indications
  • Category III: Insufficient data available to permit final classification

Most chemical sunscreens fall into category III. These chemical sunblock ingredients include: cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, avobenzone. While a few, aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate, fall into category II. For sunscreen ingredients in category III it means more research and testing needs to be done to conclude that these ingredients are generally recognized as safe and effective by the FDA. It’s my understanding that a consortium of chemical sunscreen manufacturers is working with the FDA on more data and testing.

FDA Says Mineral Sunscreens are Safe – The Only Kind Hawaii Would Permit

The only two sunscreen ingredients currently recognized by the FDA as generally recognized as safe and effective are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Zinc and titanium are mineral sunblock ingredients.

These would become the only two allowed ingredients in sunscreens for sale in Hawaii unless the FDA determines other sunscreen ingredients are GRASE in the future.

How Do I Buy a Mineral ONLY Sunscreen

Buy Block Island Organics sunscreens of course – our sunscreens are mineral ONLY Smile and we use zinc as they UV filter.

But how do you tell in general if a sunscreen is mineral or chemical? To find out if a sunscreen that is truly mineral – then the only two ingredients that should be listed on the sunscreen’s Drug Facts panel under the “Active Ingredients” section are zinc oxide and / or titanium dioxide. If you see any other ingredient outside of those two ingredients than you don’t have a mineral ONLY sunblock. Don’t just trust the marketing on the front. Many will be marketed as “mineral based”, “contains zinc”, etc. but use both mineral and chemical UV filters.

Fortunately, all sunscreens sold in the US are required to have a Drug Facts panel printed on their packaging. The panel lists ingredients, uses, warnings, directions, and other information.

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