INCI: Benzophenone-3

What is Benzophenone-3 our Oxybenzone?

Benzophenone-3 is also known as oxybenzone. It is naturally occurring UV protectant.

But is commercially produced.

Use & Benefits

It has a unique quality of absorbing and dissipating harmful UVA and UVB rays when applied to the skin. This allows it to protect the surface from UVB rays and the layers underneath from UVA.  It stabilizes the product by its protective effect from sunlight allowing it the product to have a longer shelf life. It is also used in products such as sunscreen, lotions, nail polish, hair care, photo paper and lipstick.

The downside to Benzophenone-3 is that is readily absorbed into the body after use, the levels can increase depending on how often the user applies it. A dermatologist named Helena Gonzales carried out a study on the absorption of Benzophenone-3 in the body. She used 26 participants and each applied sunscreen containing 4% Benzophenone-3. They applied the sunscreen in the morning and evening for five days and they supplied a urine sample every day and when they stopped applying the sunscreen after the five days.

The results showed that Benzophenone-3 was found in the urine during the five days and also 3.7% on average after the five days. This suggests that Benzophenone-3 was being stored in the body but the duration was unsure. From this Helena suggested in theory small children should not use sunscreens containing this compound as children aren’t able to get rid or breakdown Benzophenone-3 as easily as adults.

It is also possible that Benzophenone-3 can cause contact eczema.

Benzophenone-3 has the ability to pass through placenta barriers and possible assimilate into breastmilk. It would be best for expecting mothers and mothers of small children to avoid this compound in their sunscreens.

Benzophenone-3 is banned in Hawaii as it has damaging effects to coral reefs. Also banned in Sweden and Canada. 

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