Statement by Alex Kowcz, Chief Scientist Personal Care Products Council On Restricting the Use of Sunscreens in Hawaii

July 3, 2018

Washington, D.C. – “Recent legislation in Hawaii has banned two important ingredients, both approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in sunscreen products, based on mistaken beliefs about these ingredients that puts Hawaiians at greater risk of skin cancer.

“We join with Hawaiians in a shared concern for the environment—particularly the coral reefs—while seeking to provide a variety of safe, high-quality personal care products that meet the preferences of today’s diverse consumers.

“For cosmetics and personal care products companies, science serves as the foundation for everything that they do. The industry remains very concerned that the policy decision to prohibit Hawaiians’ access to sunscreen products with oxybenzone and octinoxate is based on inadequate scientific studies that do not meet the required quality controls used by regulatory bodies worldwide in making legislative and public health decisions. Credible environmental experts acknowledge that climate change, over-fishing and sewage run-off cause harm to coral – not sunscreens.

“These well-intentioned but misguided changes in policy may yield little to no environmental benefit to Hawaii, while at the same time restricting consumer choice, reducing access to cancer-protecting sunscreens, and likely increasing exposure to the devastation of skin cancer.

“Our goal is to provide education and information that helps consumers make informed decisions about the safe use of sunscreen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation and health care professionals worldwide all emphasize the importance of sunscreen use as part of a safe sun regimen. Daily use of sunscreens is a crucial step in the fight against skin cancer and premature skin aging. It is our hope that using sunscreens becomes as much of a habit as putting on your seatbelt.”