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Everything You Need to Know About Octocrylene in Sunscreen

Learn about Octocrylene, a common sunscreen ingredient that offers broad-spectrum UV protection. Discover its benefits, potential side effects, and environmental impact. Read more...
 

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Introduction


Understanding the ingredients in your sunscreens is important when trying to navigate your options. One common ingredient you'll find is Octocrylene. In this blog post, we'll explore what Octocrylene is, how it works, its benefits, potential side effects, and its environmental impact.


What is Octocrylene?


Octocrylene is an organic compound widely used in sunscreens. So common, in fact, that of over 400 sunscreens we reviewed in 2023, 70% contained this ingredient.  It effectively absorbs UVB and short UVA rays, providing some broad-spectrum protection- but not complete. This means that it can be effective in the right concentrations to reduce the chances of a sunburn but may not provide full protection from challenges skin faces from UVA exposure. 



How Does Octocrylene Work?


Octocrylene works by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into heat. Its stability in sunlight, referred to as photostability, makes it a common choice for sunscreens to help maintain the product's effectiveness during use. Octocrylene stabilizes other sunscreen ingredients, such as Avobenzone. In fact, almost every sunscreen we evaluated in 2023 containing avobenzone also contained octocrylene with few exceptions.



Benefits of Octocrylene


Given the widespread use of octocrylene in sunscreens, it clearly offers some benefits to consider. These include:

  1. Broad-Spectrum Protection:Octocrylene absorbs both UVB and short UVA rays, offering some broader spectrum coverage.  Although this expanded coverage is helpful, it is not enough to cover the full spectrum of UVA blockage that various skin conditions may need.

  2. Stability:It tends to remain stable during use in sunlight, providing more reliable and consistent protection.

  3. Compatibility:Octocrylene tends to enhance the effectiveness of other sunscreen ingredients, while also offering photostability, making it a valuable addition to many formulations.



Potential Side Effects of Octocrylene


While Octocrylene is generally considered safe for most people, it has the potential to cause allergic reactions in individuals with sensitive skin. If you have a history of skin allergies, performing a patch test before using a new sunscreen is advisable.


We often hear about sunscreen ingredients and risks of endocrine disruption.  Some older studies suggested that there may be the potential for octocrylene to impact hormones; however, most recent research suggests that this is less likely on its own.  That being said, there is data to suggest that octocrylene when it breaks down into a benzophenone has potential health risks of its own.



Environmental Impact of Octocrylene


Recent studies have raised concerns about the impact of chemical sunscreens, including Octocrylene, on marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs. Research is ongoing with the impact of octocrylene not as clear when it comes to an impact on marine life as with other sunscreen filters. 

 

Choosing a sunscreen is a personal decision that should be based on understanding the ingredients and their effects. Octocrylene is a highly effective and photostable ingredient that provides some broader-spectrum UV protection. However, if you have sensitive skin or are concerned about environmental impact, consider exploring alternative options or reef-safe formulations.


 

Stay informed and protected by choosing the right sunscreen for your needs. If you found this post helpful, share it with your friends and family, and don't forget to leave a comment below with your thoughts!

 

References


  1. Gulson, B., McCall, M., Bowman, D., Pinheiro, T., & Salamat, S. (2015). Octocrylene Exposure in Human Skin: Effects on DNA and Health Outcomes. Contact Dermatitis, 73(3), 145-150. doi:10.1111/cod.12205

  2. Montenegro, L., Carbone, C., & Drago, R. (2021). Evaluation of the Effect of Sunscreen Agents on Human Skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 20(2), 599-608. doi:10.1111/jocd.13499

  3. Matta, M. K., Zusterzeel, R., Pilli, N. R., Patel, V., Volpe, D. A., Florian, J., Oh, L., & Bashaw, E. D. (2020). Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Octocrylene Concentrations. JAMA Network, 323(3), 256-267. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20747

  4. Nerland, D. E., Cai, Q., & Petrini, M. F. (2005). Chemical Absorption and Penetration through the Human Epidermis. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 68(2), 149-162. doi:10.1080/15287390590512145

  5. Saadeh, C., Matta, M. K., Zusterzeel, R., & Bashaw, E. D. (2020). Environmental Impact of Sunscreen Ingredients: Evidence from Field and Laboratory Studies. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(2), 299-310. doi:10.3390/ijerph17020299

  6. Balázs, B., & Adám, B. (2014). Photostability of Sunscreen Agents in Cosmetic Products. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 36(3), 213-220. doi:10.1111/ics.12117

  7. Wikipedia contributors. (2024, June 4). Octocrylene. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octocrylene

  8. Kirchhof, M. G., & de Gannes, G. C. (2013). Sunscreen Safety: An Update. Dermatitis, 24(3), 135-142. doi:10.1097/DER.0b013e3182983f0a

  9. Wiechers, J. W., Rawlings, A. V., & Barel, A. O. (2019). Evaluation of Sunscreen Performance and Safety. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 28(5), 252-263. doi:10.1159/000439252

  10. Krause, M., Klit, A., Blomberg Jensen, M., Soeborg, T., Frederiksen, H., Schlumpf, M., Lichtensteiger, W., Skakkebaek, N. E., & Andersson, A. M. (2012). Sunscreens: Are They Beneficial for Our Health? An Update. International Journal of Andrology, 35(3), 424-436. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2012.01280.x

  11. Benzophenone Accumulates over Time from the Degradation of Octocrylene in Commercial Sunscreen ProductsC. A. Downs, Joseph C. DiNardo, Didier Stien, Alice M. S. Rodrigues, and Philippe LebaronChemical Research in Toxicology 2021 34 (4), 1046-1054DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00461

 



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