December 27, 2019

6 Locations Where Sunscreen is Banned 

When planning a trip to a tropical location, it’s crucial to be aware of which destinations have banned sunscreen containing harmful ingredients. Even more importantly, understandingwhy these ingredients are such a large problem will help you to choose better sunscreens no matter where you travel. 

Which Sunscreen Ingredients are Harmful?

The two most common culprits to watch out for when choosing a sunscreen are oxybenzone and octinoxate. You should alsobe wary of avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and octisalate. 

Why is There an Octinoxate and Oxybenzone Ban?

These chemical ingredients have been linked to a number of problems for both humans and marine life. In tropical locations where tourists spend a lot of time in the water, the coral reefs have sustained damage and are starting to die off. Without healthy reefs, many fish and other aquatic animals simply cannot survive.

In humans, octinoxate and oxybenzone have been linked to breast cancer, liver toxicity, and hormone disruption, among other serious concerns. Additionally, these chemicals have been known to pass from a mother to her unborn child, as well as contribute to skin allergies, rashes, and acne.

You don’t have to swim in the ocean to contribute to the passing of oxybenzone and octinoxate since sunscreen is washed off any time you get wet. When you take a shower or swim in a pool, the sunscreen goes down the drain, into the sewers and river systems, and ends up in the ocean.


Hawaii Sunscreen Ban

In May of 2018, Hawaii became one of the first locations to officially declare anoctinoxate and oxybenzone ban on any sunscreens used in their water. The enforcement of this ban will begin in January of 2021, giving us plenty of time to transition to safer products. You can find some of the other popular destinations that are getting on board with the sunscreen ban below.

  • Palau - This gorgeous destination in the Pacific will be the first country to enforce the sunscreen ban, beginning in 2020. There will even be a $1,000 fine for any business selling these products.
  • Key West, Florida - Key West is home to the largest coral reef in the continental US. The sunscreen ban in this area will be placed on businesses, restricting the selling of products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. A startling 90% ofFlorida’s coral reefs have been negatively impacted by chemical sunscreen ingredients.
  • Bonaire - This beautiful island in the Caribbean will also be prohibiting sales of products containing banned sunscreen ingredients.
  • Mexico - There is no official sunscreen ban in place in Mexico yet, however, nearly everywhere you go you will be asked (or told) to use reef-safe sunscreens. This includes popular places like Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and the Riviera Maya, just to name a few.
  • US Virgin Islands - The US Virgin Islands will also be among the first to enforce the ban on oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate.Their sunscreen ban will begin in March of 2020 and was unanimously approved.  
  • How Can I Find a Good Sunscreen Without Oxybenzone?

    There are actually a lot of great sunscreens available that do not use oxybenzone or octinoxate. When looking for a sunscreen without oxybenzone, start by looking for labels like “reef-safe,” “eco-friendly,” “biodegradable sunscreen,” or “mineral sunscreen.” Then flip the bottle over to the ingredient list to double-check. If you don’t see oxybenzone, avobenzone, or octinoxate, you will probably find zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are natural ingredients that serve the same purpose in UV protection as their chemical counterparts. Learn more with this guide from TropicSport aboutlearning to read and interpret sunscreen labels.

    Protect Yourself from the Sun

    Although remembering which ingredients to look for sounds intimidating at first, you should never stop wearing sunscreen altogether. Always protect your skin from dangerous UV rays with biodegradable sunscreen, clothing, hats, shade, and anything else you can effectively utilize. Remember to apply sunscreen generously to any exposed skin and reapply frequently for the best results.

    Update 1/1/2020: Palau has officially become the first country to ban sunscreens and skin-care through its Responsible Tourism Education Act.  Tourists bringing sunscreen to their country will have their items confiscated and might face fines.


    In the past, people have avoided mineral sunscreens because they left a white tint on the skin and didn’t smell great. Luckily, biodegradable sunscreen products have come a long way since then. TropicSport sunscreen is non-greasy, invisible, and safe for coral reefs. We use tropical essential oils for a delicious coconut scent and amazing moisturizing benefits. Plus,TropicSport sun protection passes the Australian water-resistant test for up to 4 hours! Check out our natural sunscreen andskin care products and stock up before your next tropical vacation.


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