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December 27, 2019

Popular Travel Destinations with Bans on Chemicals in Sunscreen

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. 

Where are the first bans on toxic sunscreen taking effect?

Palau Sunscreen Ban - January 1, 2020

This gorgeous destination in the Pacific will be the first country to enforce the sunscreen ban, which began on January 1st, 2020. There is a $1,000 fine for any business selling these products as well.

US Virgin Islands Sunscreen Ban - March 31, 2020

The US Virgin Islands will also be among the first to enforce the ban on oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate. Their sunscreen ban will begin March 31, 2020 and was unanimously approved.  

Aruba Sunscreen Ban - July, 2020

Following the other developments across the world, Aruba, in the southern Caribbean will be starting a ban on octinoxate and oxybenzone starting in July of 2020.

Hawaii Sunscreen Ban - January 2021

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

Key West Sunscreen Ban - January 2021

Key West is home to the largest coral reefs 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% of Florida’s coral reefs have been negatively impacted by man-made destruction like chemical sunscreen ingredients.

Bonaire Sunscreen Ban - January 1, 2021

This Caribbean island of Bonaire will be prohibiting sales of products containing banned sunscreen ingredients effective on January 1st, 2021.

Maui County Ban - October 1, 2022

Ordinance 5306 prohibits the sale, distribution, or use of non-mineral sunscreens. Signed on December 6, 2021, this bill will take effect on October 1, 2022. This piece of legislation is significant because it bans all chemical sunscreen ingredients county-wide. Hopefully this will serve as a model for other localities. 

Mexico Sunscreen Ban - Pending

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.

What Sunscreen Ingredients are the Cause of the Ban?

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, which the FDA is currently testing.

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 or bleach. Research supports a correlation between octinoxate and oxybenzone use and reef bleaching. Without healthy reefs, many fish and other aquatic animals simply cannot survive. Further, the tourist economies of the cities, states, and countries where these reefs exist will be impacted.

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.

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-friendly sunscreebn,” “eco-friendly,” 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 about learning to read and interpret sunscreen labels.

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 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.

Update 1/30/2020: Hawaii continued to play its role as a leader in the movement to protect marine environments from harmful sunscreen chemicals. The new proposed legislation would restrict the sale of sunscreens containing any active ingredient other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as of 1/1/2023.

Update 1/30/2020: Florida legislators are considering prohibiting cities in their state from banning any sunscreens based on their inclusion of oxybenzone or octinoxate. The state senate is set to vote in February of this year on the new bill. 

Most Recent Update: January 2022



In the past, people have avoided mineral sunscreens because they left a white tint on the skin and didn’t smell great. Luckily, mineral 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.

Quinne Pursell
Quinne Pursell

1 Response


March 31, 2020

Headed to Aruba and Bonaire I’m a cruise ship as I trip, TropicSport sunscreen is in my beach bag!

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