* An organic compound in powder form. Also known as Oxybenzone. See Sunscreen Article.
Primarily functions as a photostabilizer and sunscreen. As a “chemical” sunscreen agent, it protects the skin from harmful UV-A rays. By absorbing UV rays, it also helps prevent the integrity of other cosmetic ingredients from deteriorating under the sun. For this reason, it’s most often used in conjunction with other sunscreen agents. It’s used in a variety of personal care products like sunscreen, nail polish, lotion/cream and lipstick.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
There are several suspected dangers associated with Benzophenone-3 or Oxybenzone. Despite its sun protective abilities, it has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity. As a photocarcinogen, it’s demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack our 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.
In addition, there exist many concerns regarding the human body’s percutaneous absorption of Benzophenone-3. In one study, individuals applied a sunscreen with 4% benzophenone-3 and submitted urine samples 5 days after topical application. Consequently, all the subjects’ urine secretions were found to contain benzophenone-3, suggesting the body’s ability to store the substance. In 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention conducted a similar experiment on a national scale, and found the chemical compound to be present in 96.8% of the human urine samples surveyed. As a result, it is recommended that parents keep their small children from using products containing the ingredient. This is based on the assertion that children under the age of 2 have not fully developed the enzymes that are required to break down derivatives of Benzophenone.
Though a fair amount scientific evidence points to the adverse effects of Oxybenzone, additional tests are required before making any definite conclusions. It must be noted that this ingredient still possesses less severe risks than those associated with PABA. Furthermore, many dermatologists insist that, because dermal absorption of benzophone-3 appears to be low and still exists as one of the few substances to effectively protect against UV rays, this ingredient should not be ruled out entirely.
The FDA has approved the use of Benzophenone-3 as a safe and effective OTC sunscreen ingredient, but only in concentrations up to 6%. The EU Cosmetics Directive has also assessed the sunscreen ingredient as safe at up to concentrations of 10%, and requires products that contain more than .5% of the ingredient to be labeled “contains Oxybenzone.” Sweden has banned the use of this ingredient.