Coral reef protection law: Hawaii bans two ingredients

A few specific UV filters, as found in commercially available sun creams, are suspected of damaging coral reefs. Recent laboratory studies have linked the ingredient oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) to coral damage, which can lead to coral bleaching or coral death when sufficiently concentrated.

Corals can survive a bleaching event, but are then more stressed and more likely to die. For another ingredient, octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate), the research is less conclusive, but the mechanism could be similar.

In response to the research, Hawaii became the first US state to pass a law prohibiting the sale of sunscreen products containing the UV filters oxybenzone and octinoxate. The law will come into force on January 1, 2021 – from that date on, sunscreen products containing these ingredients will be prohibited for sale in Hawaii.

Hawaii Reef Bill Logo
Almost all Eucerin sunscreen products comply with the new Hawaii Reef Bill

The most important questions and answers about the coral protection

Which Eucerin sunscreen products comply with the new Hawaii Reef Bill?

All sunscreen products from Eucerin (except the Sun Allergy Protect Sun Cream-Gel SPF25) comply with the Hawaii Reef Bill. None of the over 100 Eucerin products contain the UV filter oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), and only one sunscreen product contains the UVB light filter octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate).

Why was oxybenzone banned in Hawaii?

Recent research indicates that oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) can damage coral reefs and at sufficiently high concentrations can lead to coral bleaching or coral death. Corals can survive a bleaching episode, but the bleaching greatly stresses them and accelerates their death.

Why was octinoxate banned?

The studies on octinoxate are less advanced. Since the mechanism could be similar to that of oxybenzone, nonetheless, the sale of products with the UV filter octinoxate was also prohibited by Hawaiian law. The studies on the possible negative effects on coral reefs are still in the early stages.

What function do UV filters have in sunscreen products?

UV filters absorb or reflect harmful UV light from the sun. They give the products the so-called sun protection factor. At Eucerin we use a combination of different UV filters to ensure reliably high protection over the entire UV range. The combination of UV filters is designed to achieve the right balance between UVA and UVB protection, water-resistance, and the respective sensory properties.

Can UV filters be harmful to health if they are too highly concentrated?

The EU Cosmetics Regulation strictly regulates which UV filters may be used in which concentration in cosmetic products. To be able to offer our customers reliable and safe products at all times, all our products undergo extensive scientific testing to ensure that they are effective and skin-friendly.

Both the raw materials we use and the products are subject to strict Beiersdorf quality controls and safety requirements. This also means that the UV filters in Eucerin products are classified as safe.

Five tips: How you can protect coral reefs on your vacation

  1. Do not wait until the vacation starts, but get ready before:
    Choose a hotel that operates sustainably – with waste avoidance, resource-saving operation, waste-water treatment, etc.
  2. When you are on vacation:
    Try to avoid generating waste. Take a reusable bottle instead of a disposable one to the beach and dispense with plastic packaging where possible.
  3. You would like to take a diving class?
    Then choose an operator that supports the conservation of marine flora and fauna. Serious operators can prove this with a certificate.
  4. When diving or snorkelling:
    Enjoy the beauty of nature. But do not touch corals or feed the sea creatures.
  5. Choose your souvenirs well:
    Often souvenirs made of corals, shells, or snails are on offer. Do not buy them, as they are often not found washed up on the beach but taken illegally from the reef.

A market stall on a beach
You want to bring back colorful necklaces or bracelets from your vacation? No problem – as long as these souvenirs are not made from illegally taken corals
Two people wearing UV protective clothing
Sunscreen alone is not enough when snorkeling. Wear more suitable UV protective clothing. It is usually made of Lycra and is equivalent to an SPF of 50

Would you like to do more? Then ask the tour operator or directly on site about projects to protect the oceans and coral reefs. In addition to attending courses and presentations, you can often participate directly – for example, in Coral Gardening or in clean-up operations at the local beach.

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