ESK Blog

We share our best ideas in our blog

Sunscreen on Trial: The Controversial Banning of Certain Ingredients

Posted By Vien

Sunscreen is a widely used preventative measure against skin damage caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Recently, there have been growing concerns regarding the safety of certain sunscreen ingredients, leading to calls for a ban on their use.

This article explores the controversies surrounding the banning of certain sunscreen ingredients, examines the arguments for and against the ban, and evaluates the possible impact of such a ban on the sunscreen industry and public health.

Overview of the Controversial Ingredients

There are several sunscreen ingredients that have come under scrutiny due to their potential effects on the environment and human health. The two most widely debated ingredients are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been linked to coral reef damage. Other ingredients, such as homosalate and octocrylene, have been found to accumulate in the body and have been flagged for further study.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are chemical filters that work by absorbing UV radiation. They have been detected in high concentrations in beach and ocean waters, and some studies suggest that they may contribute to coral bleaching. However, some argue that the concentrations observed in the environment are not high enough to pose a significant threat to coral reefs.

Homosalate and octocrylene are also chemical filters found in many sunscreens but are not as widely discussed as oxybenzone and octinoxate. Recent studies have detected these ingredients in human breast milk and urine, leading to concerns about their potential effects on hormone levels. However, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of these ingredients on human health.

Agencies Regulating Sunscreen Ingredient Bans

Regulating the use of sunscreen ingredients is a complex task that involves various organizations and agencies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the organization in charge of controlling sunscreen chemicals in the United States. A number of sunscreen chemicals, including avobenzone, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, padimate O, and sulisobenzone, have recently come under fire from the FDA. However, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are still regarded as secure and reliable sunscreen active ingredients.

The organization in charge of regulating sunscreens in Canada is called Health Canada. They offer guidelines and recommendations for the appropriate use and application of sunscreens, highlighting the significance of using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater, applying it liberally and evenly, and reapplying it every two hours while exposed.

It is important to keep in mind that while some sunscreen compounds are prohibited in some areas, such as the state of Hawaii in the United States, there is no total restriction on sunscreen components in the US or Canada.


International Regulations

Bans on sunscreen ingredients vary globally, and regulations continue to evolve. For instance, Hawaii and Key West have gone as far as to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. The ban intends to reduce the damage that the chemicals in these products can cause to coral reef systems. Further, some countries like the US, the European Union, and Australia assess the safety and efficacy of UV filters and require particular approved filters in sunscreens.

In order to save marine ecosystems, a number of foreign locations have enacted prohibitions. For instance, sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, and other substances known to harm corals have been outlawed in the Pacific island nation of Palau. The sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate has also been prohibited on Bonaire, a Caribbean island. In marine protected zones, Mexico has prohibited the importation and distribution of specific sunscreen ingredients.

It is important to note that each nation has its own set of laws governing the application of sunscreens and the components they contain. The goal of future regulation may be to increase consumer knowledge of laws, other skin protection options, and sunscreens. Future legislation governing sunscreen products will be influenced by the ongoing assessment of the components' safety.

Arguments for and against Banning Sunscreen Ingredients


  • Environmental Protection: Banning certain sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, aims to protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems, which are vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals.
  • Public Health Concerns: Some argue that banning certain sunscreen ingredients can help reduce the risk of skin allergies, hormonal disruptions, and potential long-term health effects associated with these chemicals.


  • Limited Alternatives: Banning certain sunscreen ingredients may limit the availability of effective sunscreen options for consumers, potentially compromising sun protection.
  • Lack of Scientific Consensus: Critics argue that the evidence linking sunscreen ingredients to environmental or health concerns is not conclusive, and more research is needed before implementing widespread bans.

These are just a few key points in the arguments for and against banning sunscreen ingredients. It is important to note that the debate continues, and additional factors and perspectives may exist beyond this summary.


Impact on the Sunscreen Industry

The sunscreen sector has been significantly impacted by the prohibition of specific chemicals in sunscreens. Companies that make sun care products have had to spend money on R&D to manufacture substitute UV filters that abide by the new laws.

Additionally, they had to reformulate already existing products, which can be expensive and time-consuming. To inform consumers about the effectiveness of reformulated products and banned substances, consumer education has become crucial. The restriction has also spurred debates and studies on the effectiveness and safety of sunscreen.

In conclusion, the global ban on specific sunscreen chemicals has sparked a variety of rules and viewpoints. Bans have been enacted in many areas to save the environment, particularly coral reef systems. The safety and efficacy of UV filters used in sunscreens are being actively reviewed and evaluated by governments.

It is vital that consumers are aware of local laws and regulations. Future rules will be influenced by the industry's continued shaping of sunscreen ingredient safety. In general, the restriction has generated conversations and activities to promote ethical sun care habits and discover safer alternatives.

Please trust us, we will never send you spam

In store shopping, online orders, phone orders and curbside pickups are available.

Monday - Friday | 9:00am - 6:00pm
Saturday | Closed
Sunday | Closed


Call Us
+1 604 982 3240
+1 604 974 0111
120-100 1st St E,
North Vancouver
Open the map
Close the map