Octisalate: Everything You Need To Know Is It Bad For You? Should You Be Avoiding It? - The Dermatology Review

Octisalate: Everything You Need To Know Is It Bad For You? Should You Be Avoiding It?

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03.08.21 AD DISCLOSURE

What Is Octisalate?

Octisalate is a commonly used ingredient in sunscreens and skincare and cosmetic products that have SPF included in their formulation. 

Octisalate helps to filter out UVB rays from the sun. This is why it is often used in conjunction with other sunscreen ingredients that cover the UVA rays. It is also used to improve the water-resistance of the sunscreen formulation. This allows the sunscreen to last a little longer when at the beach, swimming or sweating. Regardless of whether a formulation included octisalate, always reapply regularly and follow the directions on the label. 

Octisalate has the added benefit of also helping to stabilize some other sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, a UVA filtering sunscreen ingredient. 

Octisalate

the good: Octisalate is a sunscreen ingredient, used to filter out harmful UVB rays from the sun.

the not so good: Octisalate may contribute to coral bleaching, however it may not be as significant as previously thought, more below.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: Keep an eye out for the other sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, that are used alongside this ingredient.

Why Is Octisalate Used?

Octisalate is a sunscreen ingredient. Protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun is one of the most effective ways to take care of your skin and maintain a youthful appearance. Octisalate works by absorbing UVB rays protecting the skin from severe sunburns and melanoma and helps to shield the skin from damage to healthy skin cells and collagen. 

Most sunscreens work by blocking UV rays and preventing free radical damage. Chemical sunscreens like octisalate work by absorbing the UV rays and converting them to an energy that is less damaging to the skin.

As octisalate is only effective against UVB rays it needs to be used in conjunction with other sunscreen ingredients that protect the skin against UVA rays. This way you’re able to protect the skin against both types of UV rays, preventing damage, sunburn and minimizing the risk of skin cancers. 

What Products Is Octisalate Found In?

For the most part you will find octisalate in sunscreen products. It is also found in skincare and makeup products that contain SPF. 

You may find octisalate under different names such as EHS; 2-ethylhexyl ester benzoic acid, 2-hydroxy-; 2-ethylhexyl ester salicylic acid; 2-ethylhexyl salicylate; ethylhexyl salicylate, 2-ethylhexyl 2-hydroxybenzoate; 2-hydroxy- 2-ethylhexyl ester benzoic acid; benzoic acid, 2-hydroxy-, 2-ethylhexyl ester; benzoic acid, 2hydroxy, 2ethylhexyl ester; brn 2730664; einecs 204-263-4

Chemical Sunscreen vs. Physical Sunscreen

There are two categories of sunscreens on the market, one is physical, and one is chemical. Octisalate falls into the chemical-based sunscreen category. However, it is essential to understand the difference when determining which product is for you. 

Physical sunscreens
Physical sunscreens work by reflecting the UV rays from the sun, protecting the skin from the harmful rays. These formulations rely on the use of ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide this protection. Physical sunscreens create a barrier between the skin and the sun and aren’t absorbed into the skin. They are generally broad-spectrum, meaning that they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. 

Chemical sunscreens
Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and absorb the sun’s harmful rays before they can penetrate deep enough to cause damage to the skin. Often chemical sunscreens are used in combination with another chemical sunscreen to provide broad-spectrum protection. In the case of avobenzone, it is commonly used in conjunction with octocrylene. Also, both types of sunscreens, physical and chemical, will often include ingredients such as vitamin C or E to protect against damage from free radicals. Free radicals damage is more likely to occur with chemical sunscreens than with physical sunscreens, so these ingredients are important to look for in your sunscreen product. 

Is Octisalate Reef Friendly?

Sunscreens, particularly chemical sunscreens, have come under scrutiny for their potential environmental impact. Chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone, octocrylene and avobenzone have been implicated in bleaching of coral reefs with some countries even banning their use. However, what you need to know about this potential environmental impact is that it may not be as significant as you think. 

Sunscreen ingredients including physical and reef-friendly sunscreen ingredients have been implicated in coral bleaching. However, there are over 200 more significant contributing factors to coral bleaching than sunscreen, including rising water temperatures. 

While some sunscreen ingredients cause less coral bleaching like octisalate which is considered to be ‘reef friendly’, experts are advocating to continue using sunscreen despite the potential environmental impact. It’s all about balancing your health with the health of the oceans.

Is Octisalate Comedogenic?

Octisalate is a water resistant ingredient that is used to improve the longevity of sunscreen products when swimming and sweating. So, while octisalate itself isn’t comedogenic and doesn’t clog pores it can trap sweat, makeup and other skincare products close to the skin. This may lead to some breakouts. Always ensure you wash off the sunscreen products you use each day to prevent build up. 

Is Octisalate Safe?

Given the controversy around chemical sunscreens, the US Food and Drug Administration has invested resources into determining the safety of chemical sunscreen formulations. The FDA has found octisalate to be safe in sunscreen formulations. 

There is no evidence to suggest that octisalate poses risk to human health. The FDA limits its use to 5% in formulations and is known to cause minimal irritation in some skin types. 

One of the main concerns with chemical sunscreens is that some people claim that they are absorbed into the bloodstream and disrupt hormones. There is no current evidence to suggest this occurs with octisalate or even most chemical sunscreen ingredients. 

However, some studies have indicated this effect in a few chemical sunscreens. While this may seem scary, it is unlikely that the amount of sunscreen used over a lifetime would add up to a significant enough dose to disrupt hormones. 

An article by Harvard Health estimates that it would take 277 years of sunscreen use to create a substantial disruption.  If you are concerned about the potential effects of avobenzone, speak with your dermatologist and your physician, especially if you are pregnant. 

References:
Ruszkiewicz JA, Pinkas A, Ferrer B, Peres TV, Tsatsakis A, Aschner M. Neurotoxic effect of active ingredients in sunscreen products, a contemporary review. Toxicol Rep. 2017;4:245-259. Published 2017 May 27.
Rai R, Shanmuga SC, Srinivas C. Update on photoprotection. Indian J Dermatol. 2012;57(5):335-342.

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