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Is Octinoxate Safe?

Chemical sunscreen ingredients are confusing, hard to pronounce and difficult to keep straight. If you’re wondering if octinoxate is safe, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll answer:

  • Is Octinoxate Safe for Humans?
  • Is Octinoxate Safe for Reefs?

Let’s begin.


What is Octinoxate?

Octinoxate is commonly used as an active ingredient in sunscreens because it absorbs UVB rays, those that cause sunburn and mostly damage the upper layer of skin.

Because octinoxate only covers the UVB spectrum, it is usually combined with avobenzone (a chemical UVA filter) to get broad-spectrum coverage. To help avobenzone from degrading in the sunlight, sunscreen companies have to add another chemical called octocrylene. Yikes!

Octinoxate is sometimes called Octyl methoxycinnamate or (OMC). To make the sunscreen ingredient, chemists mix and then heat sulfuric acid with methanol (a by-product of petroleum). Because it dissolves in oil, it is a fat-seeking substance in the body and it was first produced in the 1950s.

As you research your skincare labels, keep in mind octinoxate can be listed by a few other names, such as octyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, escalol, or neo heliopan.

EWG Rating: 5 (1 best, 10 worst)

As most ingredients in chemical sunscreens octinoxate works by absorbing into skin (and then enters your bloodstream) — it does not sit on top of skin like zinc oxide. Petrochemical sunscreen makers also like octinoxate because it is typically a cheap ingredient and so they can keep their sunscreen prices down. But at what cost to your skin and health?

We recommend children, adults and pregnant mothers avoid this chemical in sunscreens and any skincare.


Is Octinoxate Safe for Humans?

There is strong evidence octinoxate is an endocrine disruptor. It mimics estrogen in the body (similar to oxybenzone) and can disrupt thyroid function. Octinoxate is also linked to harmful effects on reproductive organ development in male and female fetuses — and these effects can be passed onto their offspring. Some people even report octinoxate causes acne.

All humans large and small are vulnerable. Despite the numerous studies and concerns about octinoxate toxicity and the effect on the human body, octinoxate is approved worldwide. The U.S. FDA approves usage levels up to 7.5%.


Is Octinoxate Safe for Reefs?

As sunscreen containing octinoxate washes off your skin either while swimming in a pool, the ocean or in your shower, the chemical becomes part of our swimming water, our ocean and our water supply.

Several studies show significant wildlife and the environment disruption due to octinoxate pollution. Octinoxate present in the waters around coral reefs causes bleaching occurs. Hawaii now bans the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate because of their destructive patterns to the fragile coral reefs.



1. Know your ingredients — Flip over your sunscreen and read the ingredients. We want everyone to know what good ingredients are, regardless of whether they use our products or not. Your health is worth it.

2. Buy safe sunscreen — Waxhead is dedicated to using only the healthiest, safest, most effective ingredients in our sunscreens. Shop Safe Sunscreen here.

3. Teach a friend — If you know someone who might still be buying sunscreen with questionable ingredients, please share this post with him/her.



Other Sources


Is Octinoxate Safe?

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