On the heels of Hawaii’s recent toxic sunscreen ban, consumers are looking for “safer” sunscreens. Is sunscreen safe just because it is “Oxybenzone Free”? Many sunscreen manufacturers would like you to believe so. They tout “Oxybenzone Free” on their labels and in their advertising, while continuing to use chemical ingredients like Avobenzone and Octocrylene. What are these chemicals and are they safe?
- Octocrylene is a common active ingredient in chemical sunscreens. Octocrylene and can penetrate to the deepest layers of the skin and its prevalence in sunscreen is under scrutiny for environmental and human health concerns.
- Recent studies have identifieda potential carcinogen linked to octocrylene. Octocrylene breaks down into Benzophenone, a hormone disruptor and potential “reproductive toxicant”. While we need more research to fully understand the consequences of Benzophenone exposure through sunscreen,Haereticus Environmental Laboratory states that “Benzophenone is also an endocrine disruptor, affecting thyroid function as well as inducing anti-androgenic activity, delaying testicular development and causing anatomic difficulties with female reproductive organs."
- Oxybenzone causes similar problems in marine ecosystems, exhibiting reproductive toxicity in fish and rendering coral reefs more vulnerable to reef bleaching.
As we explained in our blog post "Not All Sunscreens Are Created Equal" there are two proven-effective UVA blockers, one chemical and one mineral (Avobenzone and Zinc Oxide). Avobenzone was approved by the FDA in 1988 for its ability to absorb UVA rays, which cause premature aging and skin cancer. For that reason, it is used by millions looking to protect themselves from the sun. But this is problematic for people worried about the toxic effects of what they are putting on their skin. Why?
Avobenzone breaks down in the sun in 30 minutes