Octinoxate: Uses, Benefits, and Dangers
Octinoxate is an ingredient that is common to many different brands of sunscreen and other skin care products. This ingredient is valued for its ability to absorb UV rays, which contain free radicals and destroy healthy skin cells. Octinoxate is a clear liquid that is not water soluble, and often needs an emulsifier to keep it mixed with other chemicals in the sun block. While this ingredient is essential to the effectiveness of sunscreen, there are also several dangers associated with its long-term use. Individuals who use sunscreen with octinoxate should be aware of these dangers in order to protect themselves from any side effects and talk with their dermatologist before use, as this chemical can accumulate in the body with time.
History and Usage
Although octinoxate has been approved for use by the FDA in sunscreens and products that help reduce the appearance of scars, the concentration must be no higher than 7.5% for the product to be considered safe. This chemical can also be found in other health and beauty products such as shampoo, lip balm, face moisturizers, hair color, and lipstick. When it is used in cosmetics, the purpose of octinoxate is to keep the physical integrity of the product stable, especially when exposed to sunlight, making it a common ingredient in “long-lasting” cosmetic brands and products. However, some new studies concerning this chemical have shown that when it’s used in sunscreen, it may degrade quicker than previously thought, which may reduce effectiveness of the product and lead to long term problems, like hyperpigmentation. This is not the only concern that many skin care experts have about the use of octinoxate, and many have suggested being cautious about its utilization.
The Possible Dangers of Octinoxate
There have been several tests performed on the side effects of octinoxate, and the results show that it may have a negative impact on the endocrine system, which is vital to keeping the hormonal balance intact. Octinoxate has shown to increase the development of estrogen in cells, as it absorbed rapidly into the skin when applied. This is a concern because high levels of estrogen in the body have been linked to the development of breast cancer. Octinoxate also decreases thyroid hormones in the bloodstream, which may interrupt normal thyroid function. While there has been no definite link discovered between the use of octinoxate and thyroid disease, there is enough evidence to suggest that overuse of the ingredient may be a contributing factor.
The dangers of octinoxate exposure are not just limited to women, however. Many studies have shown that it can also have a negative effect on the male reproductive system. For example, a lower sperm count in laboratory specimens and an overall reduced weight of the reproductive organs have been reported. While it’s unknown what levels of octinoxate were used, skin care experts agree that the quick absorption into the skin and bioaccumulation are major contributing factors to side effects, as the chemical can quickly affect the entire body, and not just the specific areas where it was applied.
How Big is the Risk?
With all of these concerns, you may be wondering if the use of sunscreen isn’t just as dangerous as going out without any UV protection. However, there are several things you can do to decrease your exposure to octinoxate. The most effective step you can take is to read labels when you’re shopping for skin care products. If your sunscreen, lipstick, skin cream, and shampoo all contain octinoxate, then take steps to reduce your exposure by adding some mineral makeup or a homemade wrinkle cream to your skin care routine. You can ask your dermatologist where you can shop for products that don’t contain this chemical and may even get a few free samples from your skin care specialist. Overall, the use of octinoxate in recommended doses is most likely not harmful, but because the chemical accumulates in the body, persistent long term use is not recommended.