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Travel Destinations with Sunscreen Bans

As you're thinking about our next travel destination, sunscreen is a must have while on vacation. However, did you know that there are some sunny destinations that have banned certain sunscreen ingredients? Keep reading to find out where and why!


When we apply sunscreen and then go for a dip in the ocean, the sunscreen we use can be impacting the environment. There is growing scientific evidence from studies like Cramer et al. that chemicals commonly found in sunscreens have contributed to bleaching of the coral reefs, where in some parts of the Caribbean upwards of 90% of the total reefs have been lost since the 1980s. Sunscreen chemicals may also harm other kinds of sea life too.


Specifically chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene have been found to exacerbate the coral reef bleaching and warming of the ocean temperatures. These destinations have banned the sale of sunscreen products with these ingredients and are trying to warn visitors of their potential harm to preserve the coral reefs and ocean life:


  1. Hawaii: As of January 1, 2021, sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate are banned from being sold.
  2. US Virgin Islands: Since March 2020, the sale or use of sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate have been banned.
  3. Aruba: Sunscreens containing oxybenzone have been outlawed since July 2020.
  4. Bonaire: Reef-harming chemical sunscreens have been restricted for sale since January 2021 and tourists are encouraged to only bring biodegradable sunscreens to the island.
  5. Ecotourism reserves in Mexico: If you are planning to visit natural cenotes or snorkeling beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Cozumel, there are areas in which bans are in place for visitors using certain sunscreens.
  6. Palau: Since January 2020, the island has imposed bans on all reef-toxic sunscreens, which includes 10 chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, and certain parabens and preservatives.

Make sure to check if your destination has a ban in place, and always try to reach for reef-safe mineral-based sunscreens where possible!

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