Oxybenzone is the most common ingredient found in 70% of all sunscreens and personal care products.
Now, what really made me think about its ingredients? Well, when I eagerly wanted to change my old sunscreen because it was so strong that I could taste it all the time in my mouth. Of course, it is bitter in taste!. Don’t know about you but for me, its unforgiving flavor was giving me a very hard time to wear a face mask and was utterly inconvenient for me to continue with it.
So, my quest for better sun protection started at Target store. I never knew or for that matter never tried to understand what is in my SPF as long as it was protecting me from UV rays. And when I saw these labels on Neutrogena sunscreen I was like what the heck is this?. Does it mean I was using unsafe sunscreen on my skin all these years?
So today let’s talk about what is Oxybenzone and why companies are advertising their sun protection products as “Oxybenzone Free”.
What is Oxybenzone?
Oxybenzone works as a sunscreen by absorbing UV radiation. During this process, a chemical reaction occurs and the sun’s UV rays are converted into heat and released from the skin.
Is Oxybenzone safe?
Scientists and Researchers have been showing concern about oxybenzone in particular because it is absorbed through the skin in large amounts.
Oxybenzone causes allergic skin reactions, act like as an endocrine disruptor in many studies. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.
Some studies show Oxybenzone is a “potential hormone disruptor” when tested on animals. They have enough evidence that proved it disrupts hormones in animals. But it has not yet tested on humans for various reasons until now.
Believe it or not, Oxybenzone could be more harmful to children than adults because of the potential for higher absorption.
But just because there are still a lot of test results flagged it does not support its direct relation to human health according to other researchers. Simultaneously, several other (Countries) studies & surveys conducted, Oxybenzone is very dangerous statistically significant associations between oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy and birth outcomes.
As a result, it is still controversial issue & researchers are investigating more as hard as they can to save the human as well as our planet .
FDA is requesting to conduct detailed study & research on Oxybenzone (and other chemicals )which may pose a threat to humans that measure skin absorption as well as potential impacts on hormone levels, reproduction, and development.
As to express full cooperation & compliance to their studies, companies sell their products with “Oxybenzone free” labels. Nonetheless, SPF contains other chemical elements like Homosalate, Octocrylene etc.
What are the different types of sunscreen?
Sunscreens are categorized into two types Physical (minerals) & chemical.
Physical sunscreens are mineral one which contains active ingredients like Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide. Mineral sunscreens act as a physical barrier on top of your skin, reflecting the sun’s rays away from your body. They are known as safe minerals.
Chemical sunscreens have active ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and octocrylene. It contains synthetic compounds which absorb the UV light before it reaches your skin. They are known as toxic chemicals.
Why sunscreen is bad for the ocean?
So eventually all sunscreens can be bad for Ocean’s marine life except a very few which has natural elements along with less concentrated active ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. It is recommendable to use micro-sized (or non-nano) mineral sunscreens to avoid nanoparticles as its smaller particles can make ocean water biologically toxic.
On the other hand, SPF containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and octocrylene with other ingredients like Parabens, any nanoparticles, or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium, etc basically are known to toxic & harmful to corals.
Along with a global warming these chemicals give us one more reason to sabotage marine (coral) life and to kill it.
What can I do to save the ocean and to protect my skin?
My conclusion is yes I can of course contribute to save marine life. Simple whenever I am not going near the water or swimming I can use the sunscreens Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide.
If I really want to hit the beach or in mood of snorkeling I would definitely try to find out SPF which does not contains following list of ingredients:
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Any nanoparticles or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium (if it doesn’t explicitly say “micro-sized” or “non-nano” and it can rub in, it’s probably nano-sized)
- Any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating beads”
Important : I am no expert. All the above information isn’t personally verified but read and studied with the help of material found on google resources.For more detailed information I would suggest to read guidelines mention by FDA & AAD (American Academy of Dermatology association) regarding SPF/Sunscreens and its active ingredients.
Kindly let me know what do you think about this blog and would appreciate if you guys could contribute (rectify info if any) to this post regarding “Octinoxate free” or “Marin life safe” sunscreen.
Thank you so much!