Maui Bans Non-Mineral Sunscreen Under New Law


Key Takeaways

  • Maui County’s new law bans non-mineral sunscreens to safeguard coral reefs from October 1, 2022.
  • Only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens are permitted for sale and use without prescription.
  • Retailers and distributors face fines of up to $1000 for violations, monitored via a complaint system.
  • The county is also deploying “reef-friendly” sunscreen dispensers to promote safe alternatives.

Maui, HI–In an effort to prevent depletion of their unique reef habitat, Maui County authorities implemented a new law prohibiting the use, distribution, and sale of non-mineral sunscreens.

Protecting Maui’s Coral Reefs with Sunscreen Ban

The new law (Ordinance number 5306) specifies that only sunscreens that use active ingredients (namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are allowed to be sold and used on the ‘Valley Isle’ without a prescription. The ban was brought into effect on October 1, 2022. 

Non-mineral-based sunscreens “are a known pollutant that puts reefs and marine habitats at increased risk and leaves them more vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

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“This ordinance is one important step to protect our coral reefs, which provide the first defense against erosion from sea-level rise and are critically important for biodiversity, recreation, food sources, and our tourism industry,” said Maui councilmember Kelly King.

King added that authorities can fine violators up to $1000, further stating that a complaint-based warning system was going to be used.

“It’s not like we have the sunscreen police driving around, looking at people’s sunscreens and reading labels,” King explained, clarifying that the ban is targetted at retailers and distributors rather than tourists and residents.  

Promoting Reef-Friendly Sunscreen Alternatives

“It’s highly unlikely that a tourist is going to get a warning and then be in the same place, you know, for the second warning and ever get a fine. But once we can eliminate the distribution,” King said, “then I think that slows it. That’ll make a tremendous difference.”

The Maui County report also advises tourists to use rub-on creams rather than sprays-on which could land on the sand and get washed into the ocean.

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Maui County has entered into an agreement with the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau to place “reef-friendly” sunscreen dispensers around the island — an effort aimed at raising awareness and promoting environment-friendly sunscreens

What We Think

Maui’s proactive measure to ban non-mineral sunscreens reflects a commitment to preserving its delicate marine ecosystems. By targeting the distribution network, the law aims for a trickle-down effect to reduce the overall use of harmful sunscreens.

While enforcement may not be stringent on individuals, the emphasis on education and the provision of reef-friendly alternatives is a positive step. It’s a model that balances environmental concerns with practical tourism needs, potentially setting a precedent for other regions with vulnerable coral reefs.

Read more in this news release.


Aqil K
Aqil K
Aqil writes about travel, tourism, and covers the many aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle.


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