octinoxate

Also known as octyl methoxycinnamate and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, octinoxate is the oldest and most common sunscreen active used to protect skin, primarily against UVB rays. Although octinoxate does provide some UVA protection, it does not protect against the entire range of UVA wavelengths; therefore, there should be another UVA-protecting active present in any sunscreen you use.

Octinoxate has a solid record of safety (decades of research and thousands of studies establishing its safety in sunscreens as indisputable). There are no studies that demonstrate octinoxate, when and as used in SPF products, is harmful. In the sole studies cited when such claims are made, the conditions are completely inapplicable to how sunscreen ingredients are used in skincare products. For example, such “studies” use extremely high concentrations of octinoxate (much higher than would ever be used in sunscreens) or even fed to lab animals. 

There simply isn’t any research backing the claim that octinoxate has any link to health risks when used in sunscreen formulas. In fact, the European Union’s permitted usage level for octinoxate in sunscreens is higher than the maximum amount permitted in the United States (7.5% in the United States, 10% in the EU).

This sunscreen active is one of several currently undergoing further safety testing under the purview of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This testing is to gain a better understanding of the systemic absorption, metabolism, and elimination of these sunscreen actives when small amounts enter the body via topical use. It’s important to know that the presence of this or other sunscreen actives in the body does not mean your health is at risk. It is anticipated that the additional testing being done will reaffirm the safety of these ingredients; however, those who remain concerned can choose sunscreens with mineral actives (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) which are not included in the FDA’s new call for additional testing.

References for this information:

Pharmazie, 2013, issue 1, pages 34-40

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2005, issue 4, pages170-174

See octyl methoxycinnamate

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