What The Skin Cancer Foundation Wants People to Know about Hawaii’s Proposed Ban on the Sale and Distribution of Sunscreens Containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate

New York, NY (May 3, 2018) – At a time when skin cancer is widely considered to be a public health epidemic, any legislation that limits options for effective sun protection is cause for concern. There are already barriers to sunscreen use, including cost, aesthetics and texture. By removing access to a significant number of products, this ban will give people another excuse to skip sun protection, putting them at greater risk for skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation is focused on educating the public about effective sun protection for skin cancer prevention. Given the circumstances in Hawaii and the possibility that sunscreen choice will be limited, the Foundation offers the following recommendations to residents of Hawaii and visitors: 

Everyone needs sunscreen.
There is well-established evidence that regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. Hawaii’s proximity to the equator and the intensity of UV rays in the islands make sun protection particularly important in the region, especially for tourists: Periodic, concentrated UV exposure (the kind received on a tropical vacation) frequently causes sunburn and severely damages the skin, increasing the risk of developing melanoma.

Locals and visitors alike should choose from whatever products are available, looking for a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Look for water-resistant formulas, which adhere to the skin longer and help protect the skin while swimming or sweating. Should the legislation banning oxybenzone and octinoxate pass, sunscreen options will be limited. However, safe and effective sun protection is still achievable.

Sunscreen alone isn’t enough.
Since its inception in 1979, the Foundation has recommended following a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade and covering up with clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use. Clothing is the most effective form of sun protection, and swim shirts, rash guards and wet suits offer great protection during water activities, especially in intense UV environments like Hawaii. Look for clothing and hats labeled with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of 30 or higher to ensure effective protection. For more information about skin cancer prevention and sun protection, visit SkinCancer.org.

It’s time for innovation.
While many sunscreen ingredients protect against damage from the sun’s shortwave, UVB rays, oxybenzone is one of the few available in the U.S. that provides effective broad-spectrum protection against both UVB and the sun’s long-wave, UVA rays. There are several ingredients available in other countries that provide better UVA protection, however they are not commercially available in the U.S., as they have been stuck in FDA review for nearly two decades. Since 2000, not a single new sunscreen ingredient has been added to the FDA’s approved list, even though citizens of other countries have been using these ingredients safely for years.

The Skin Cancer Foundation supported the federal Sunscreen Innovation Act (SIA), which was passed in 2014. The intention of SIA was to encourage the FDA to step up its process for reviewing new sunscreen ingredients, but the FDA has still not approved any to date. The legislation in Hawaii emphasizes the need for new sunscreen ingredients and should send a message to the FDA. Innovation in sunscreen formulation will provide the public with more choices for sun protection, potentially leading to a decrease in the incidence of skin cancer. 

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About The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit SkinCancer.org.

Contact:
Becky Kamowitz (bkamowitz@skincancer.org); 212-725-5177