Know Before You Go – Hawai'i Approved Sunscreen

Planning a relaxing Hawaiian getaway this summer? Before you pack your bags, there’s one item you need to double-check: sunscreen. 

On Jun. 1, 2022, the County Council of Hawai’i voted unanimously to prohibit the sale and distribution of non-mineral sunscreens on the Big Island, beginning Dec. 1, 2022:

“The purpose of this ordinance is to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of humans and the environment, by allowing only mineral sunscreens to be provided, sold, offered for sale, or distributed in the County.” (Bill No. 167)

This bill should not come as a surprise, as Maui County passed a similar initiative (Ordinance 5306) late last year. With thousands of locals and tourists flocking to the island beaches every day, the need to protect the coral reefs and the wildlife that call them home is ever-pressing. This initiative will prevent the sale, use, and distribution of any non-mineral sunscreens across the island of Hawai’i.


So, here’s what you need to know before you go to have a fun, and safe, Hawaiian adventure.

What is a Non-Mineral Sunscreen?

You see them all the time, in practically every supermarket and convenience store. Non-mineral, or chemical, refers to sunscreens that contain non-natural active ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, homosalate, avobenzone, and octocrylene.

To prevent burning, these chemicals absorb the sun’s UV rays then, through a chemical reaction within the skin, release them as heat. Seeing as they are so easily obtainable, you may assume these chemicals are safe to use. However, studies have found them to cause hormone disruption and other bodily harm

Why is Non-Mineral Sunscreen Banned in Hawai’i?

Not only have these ingredients been shown by the FDA to be absorbed in the human bloodstream, but they have also been implicated as environmental disruptors. Even in low concentrations, these chemicals can have severe effects on the environment. In particular for Hawai’i, the coral reefs. 

Right off the coast, beautiful coral reefs are home to an abundance of wildlife. As you travel the island, you’ll likely venture out to visit these diverse ecosystems on a snorkel tour. And, while they are exciting to explore, anything that is on your skin while swimming is at risk of washing off into the water. In fact, it is estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the ocean every year. Specifically, when wearing non-mineral sunscreen, the chemicals on your skin such as oxybenzone leak into the water and are absorbed by the coral. This leads to a disruption in the coral’s reproduction cycle and subsequently, irreversible bleaching. Due to tourism, the tropical waters of Hawai’i are at an increased risk for this pollution.

However, there is something you can do to help! Enter: mineral sunscreens.


What are Mineral Sunscreens?

Mineral sunscreens, unlike chemical, are a shield from the sun’s UV rays. Rather than being absorbed into the body through the skin, these minerals sit on top of the skin and create a barrier that works to reflect, scatter, and block ultraviolet radiation. The active ingredients in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide

How to Protect Yourself and The Reefs.


When it comes to protecting yourself and the environment, you should only use broad-spectrum sunscreens considered GRASE (Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective) by the FDA. This means using only mineral sunscreens formulated with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

At Colorescience, we know better skin and we know better protection. From liquid to powder, sheer to tinted, our Total Protection products are always 100% mineral SPF – to keep you and the environment protected, totally.