A Major Environmental Victory is Taking Place in Hawaii – An Open Letter from Beautycounter’s Founder and CEO

When we know better, we do better, right? Yet, while skin cancer affects one in five Americans, the majority of people in the U.S. fail to wear sunscreen on a daily basis. The simple act of wearing protective SPF can prevent skin cancer and premature aging.

However, as most Hawaiians know, not all sunscreen is created equal. As the mother of three, I slather sunscreen on my children before they head out the door each morning, and I want that sunscreen to work. But I also want the ingredients in that product to be proven safe for my children’s health, and the health of the ocean they frequently swim in.

The unfortunate truth is that most sunscreens contain a dirty secret, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are linked to health hazards and have been shown in scientific studies to harm coral reefs. Researchers at the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia and the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy found that exposure to oxybenzone and octinoxate has been linked to coral bleaching.

The good news is that legislation banning the sale of any sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate just passed both the Hawaii State House and Senate and is now awaiting Governor Ige’s signature. If Governor Ige signs the bill into law, it will take effect on January 1, 2021.

As the leader in safer and cleaner beauty, we of course were in full support of this bill and while this is a law for Hawaii, we hope it inspires similar state and federal action. Effective sunscreen can be made without oxybenzone and octinoxate and companies like Beautycounter have been doing it for years. Alternate ingredients such as non-nano zinc oxide are just as effective as oxybenzone, and don’t have the same negative impacts on the environment and humans.

At a time when consumers are increasingly paying attention to the ingredients used in everything from cleaning products to food, personal care products—part of a $62 billion beauty industry—are no different. Consumers want and deserve to know that the products they are using on their skin are free of ingredients linked to hormone disruption and environmental harm.

I applaud the Hawaiian legislators that voiced their support of this bill, like Senator Mike Gabbard, for taking a proactive and protective stance on the health of Hawaiians and our rich ecosystems. Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate is an historic opportunity to show Hawaii’s leadership on consumer safety and environmental protection. I am hopeful that Governor Ige will seize this opportunity and move quickly to bring this bill across the finish line.



Founder and CEO, Beautycounter