Unveiling the Bright Side of Safe Skincare: Choosing Healthier Sunscreen Alternatives

July 13, 2023 | 


Joanna Newman


Sunscreen is our foremost line of defense against the dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. However, recent studies have raised some eyebrows, suggesting that one commonly used sunscreen ingredient, octocrylene, might pose health risks due to its potential carcinogenic nature. This article aims to shed light on the concerns related to octocrylene, guiding you toward safer alternatives to keep your skin protected and healthy.

What is Octocrylene?

Octocrylene is an organic compound often used in sunscreens and cosmetics because of its ability to absorb UVB and UVA II rays. It also acts as a photostabilizer, extending the lifespan of other sunscreen ingredients. Despite these benefits, octocrylene has recently come under scrutiny due to research suggesting it may degrade into a potentially harmful compound.

The Controversy Around Octocrylene

The recent controversy surrounding octocrylene lies in its potential to degrade into benzophenone, a compound suspected of being a carcinogen. Studies have shown that benzophenone can disrupt hormone functions and may increase the risk of certain cancers. Also, octocrylene has been linked to an increased risk of skin allergies and dermatitis, raising more concerns about its safety.

However, the skincare industry argues that the concentration of octocrylene used in products is well below the levels that might pose a health risk. The debate continues, but for consumers concerned about these potential risks, exploring safer alternatives is a logical step.

Identifying Octocrylene in Sunscreens

Knowing how to identify octocrylene in your sunscreen is the first step in making informed choices. Sunscreens typically list their active ingredients on the packaging. Look for ´octocrylene´ among these. Other names it might go by include Parsol 340, Eusolex OCR, and 2-ethylhexyl 2-cyano-3,3-diphenylacrylate.

Safe Alternatives to Octocrylene-Based Sunscreens

If you´re looking for safer alternatives, consider sunscreens with mineral-based active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients are often found in "physical" or "mineral" sunscreens and are considered safe for most skin types.

  • Zinc Oxide: This is a mineral-based ingredient that reflects UVA and UVB rays instead of absorbing them. It is hypoallergenic and rarely causes skin irritation, making it ideal for sensitive skin types.
  • Titanium Dioxide: Similar to zinc oxide, titanium dioxide physically blocks UV rays. It´s often used in combination with zinc oxide for broad-spectrum protection.
  • Remember, the term "organic" on a sunscreen label doesn´t necessarily mean it´s free of harmful ingredients. In sunscreen terminology, "organic" can also mean it contains organic (carbon-based) compounds, including potentially harmful ones like octocrylene.

    The Importance of SPF and Broad-Spectrum Protection

    While moving away from octocrylene-based sunscreens, remember the importance of adequate sun protection. Opt for sunscreens offering broad-spectrum protection, meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Also, go for sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. These measures ensure you´re effectively protected against sunburn and the risk of skin cancer.

    Other Sun Protection Measures

    Sunscreen is just one part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. It´s also essential to:

  • Limit sun exposure: Try to avoid the sun when it´s at its strongest, typically between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Wear protective clothing: Long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses can offer additional protection.
  • Seek shade: Whenever possible, opt for shade, especially during peak sunlight hours.
  • The Future of Sunscreen Safety

    As scientific research evolves, so too does our understanding of what is safe and what might pose a risk. Regulatory bodies worldwide are keeping a close eye on the research around octocrylene and other potentially harmful sunscreen ingredients. As consumers, it´s our responsibility to stay informed and make the best choices for our health and well-being.

    Conclusion: Navigating Towards Safer Sun Protection

    The sun protection journey might seem more complicated with the new findings about octocrylene. But armed with the right knowledge, you can navigate this path with confidence. By choosing sunscreens free of octocrylene and opting for those with safer active ingredients, you can ensure your skin stays protected without unnecessary risk. Incorporating other sun protection measures, like wearing protective clothing and seeking shade, will further reduce your risk. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the sunshine without letting it harm your skin. Stay sun-safe, and enjoy the outdoors responsibly.