When you come to Maui, one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe (and make sure you don’t look like a lobster in your photos) is to wear your sunscreen. In 2021, a new law went into effect to ensure that your safety doesn’t come at the expense of the amazing reefs that surround the Hawaiian Islands.
Did you know that ingredients that are common in most sunscreens actually cause major damage to our fragile ecosystem? Scientific studies have shown that oxybenzone or octinoxate can degrade corals’ resiliency and ability to adjust to climate change factors, inhibit recruitment of new corals, and can increase endocrine disruption for water species.
Here are a few tips from our friends at the Maui Marine Resource Council:
- Avoid sunscreens and body care products that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Read the labels carefully.
- Skip spray-on products that disperse sunscreen everywhere around you (including on sand, where it washes into the ocean).
- Choose zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based sunscreens. Itʻs easier than ever to find these safer sunscreen options on Maui and throughout Hawaii. If you look carefully, youʻll find these products on the shelves of most retail and grocery stores. Here are some natural food stores and dive shops on Maui that carry sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate:
- Ask for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate wherever you shop for body care products. Encourage stores to carry these safer alternatives.
- Avoid all sunscreen products made with nano particles and other possible reef-harming ingredients, including avobenzone, octocrylene and homosalate.
- Minimize your need for sunscreen by covering up with a hat and rash guard. Swim tights or athletic tights (like you would wear to the gym) also provide effective sun protection.
- Choose snorkel cruise companies that require passengers to use sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate.
- Remember that even if you are miles away from the ocean, chemicals washed off your body in your shower or bath will eventually find their way to the sea. When you’re home, do a good turn for coral reefs everywhere by avoiding all body care products with oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Thank you for doing your part to keep yourself and our beautiful Maui reefs safe for years to come.