What is Oxybenzone?

Oxybenzone is a chemical, soluble compound that protects the skin from UVB rays and some UVA rays and is found in many commercial sunscreens. It is part of a group of chemicals called benzophenones that are also used as photostablizers, which means they prevent products from turning color or degrading in the presence of sunlight.  Oxybenzone was originally approved for use by the FDA in 1978. 

Health Concerns:

Research has shown that oxybenzone can easily be absorbed through the skin and can be found in our urine. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) and other toxicology experts believe that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and can be a photoallergenic toxicant or allergen. In fact, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named benzophenones the “Contact Allergen of the Year” in 2014. It has also been linked to low birthweight in babies. 

Environmental Concerns:

Wondering why your vacation resort is telling you to bring "reef safe" sunscreen? Researchers have discovered Oxybenzone is killing coral reefs around the world.   The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage making it unlikely that coral can develop properly. Highest concentrations of oxybenzone are found in reefs most popular with tourists.  80% of coral reefs have been lost as a result. For other skincare ingredients that pose a threat to the environment READ ON.

 Oxybenzone Alternatives:

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens provide a safe and effective alternative for babies, children and adults who wish to avoid chemical compounds and/or have sensitive skin. The Choosy Chick offers a number of sunscreen lotions and sticks for face and body, including options for babies. 

For more on "reef safe" and the benefits of of choosing the right sunscreen watch this video by Raw Elements, one of our trusted brands. 

Sunscreen Safety Tips:

1. Buy a sunscreen that provides “broad spectrum” or “multi-spectrum” protection or states that it will protect from both UVB and UVA rays.

2. Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 and maximum SPF 50. (SPF 50 blocks 98% of all incoming UVB rays, and anything higher doesn’t give a higher return for the price.)

3. Reapply often: every 2 hours or after swimming or heavy sweating.

4. Wear broad-brimmed hats and cover skin with protective clothing; the tighter the weave and darker the clothing color, the higher the SPF protection.

4. If possible, avoid sun exposure between 10 AM and 4 PM, when UV rays are strongest.

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REFERENCES & SOURCES:

“Avoid sunscreens with potentially harmful ingredients, group warns,” by Danielle Dellorto, CNN, May 16, 2012

“Benzophenones Named 2014 Contact Allergen of the Year,” by Doug Brunk, Dermatology News Network

Oxybenzone, EWG Skin Deep Database

Sun Safety: Sunscreen and Sun Protection by R. Griffen, WebMD