Oxybenzone or benzophenone-3 (trade names Milestab 9, Eusolex 4360, Escalol 567, KAHSCREEN BZ-3) is an organic compound. It is a pale-yellow solid that is readily soluble in most organic solvents. Oxybenzone belongs to the class of aromatic ketones known as benzophenones. It is a component of many sunscreen lotions.
- Oxybenzone is used in plastics as an ultraviolet light absorber and stabilizer. It is used, along with other benzophenones, in sunscreens, hair sprays, and cosmetics because they help prevent potential damage from sunlight exposure. It is also found, in concentrations up to 1%, in nail polishes. Oxybenzone can also be used as a photostabilizer for synthetic resins. Benzophenones can leach from food packaging, and are widely used as photo-initiators to activate a chemical that dries ink faster.
- As a sunscreen, it provides broad-spectrum ultraviolet coverage, including UVB and short-wave UVA rays. As a photoprotective agent, it has an absorption profile spanning from 270 to 350 nm with absorption peaks at 288 and 350 nm. It is one of the most widely used organic UVA filters in sunscreens today. It is also found in nail polish, fragrances, hairspray, and cosmetics as a photostabilizer.
- Oxybenzone primarily functions as a photostabilizer and sunscreen. Among the vast selection of sunscreen active ingredients, Oxybenzone is classified as a “chemical” sunscreen agent. Inadequate when used alone, Oxybenzone absorbs UVB and short UVA rays but is a relatively weak chemical UV absorber.
- It also helps preserve the integrity of other cosmetic ingredients, preventing their deterioration under the sun. For this reason, Oxybenzone is most often used in conjunction with other sunscreen agents. Besides sunscreen, it can be found in a variety of personal care products such as nail polish, lotions, and lipstick.
- According to the Environmental Working Group, there are several suspected dangers associated with Oxybenzone. Despite its sun protective abilities, it has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity.
- As a photocarcinogen, it has demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells; for this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of Melanoma cases with sunscreen users. Some studies have shown it to behave similarly to the hormone estrogen, suggesting that it may cause breast cancer. It has also been linked to contact eczema and allergies.
Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxybenzone