What is Octinoxate?

Octinoxate is a chemical compound commonly found in sunscreen products. It is used to guard the skin from UV rays that harm healthy skin cells. Octinoxate isn’t water soluble and requires a thickener in order to mix it with other ingredients in sunscreens. Despite its uses in keeping skin safe from the sun’s rays, Octinoxate also has a few side effects frequent users should know about.

Benefits and history

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved of octinoxate in sunscreens and skincare products that help decrease the appearance of scars. In order to be considered safe, a product must not have more than 7.5% of the compound in it. Many long-wear make-up products use octinoxate as a part of their formula because it keeps cosmetics more stable. Even though the compound is commonly used in sunscreens, studies have shown that octinoxate can deteriorate faster than previously believed.

Side effects

In lab studies, octinoxate has been found to be an endocrine disruptor. It can also contribute to dark spots on the skin because of its quick degradation when in contact with UV rays. Endocrine disruptors have been proven harmful in the hormone (endocrine) systems of mammals. Bodily systems that rely on hormone secretions can thus be harmed by these disruptions. Studies have shown octinoxate can cause an increase in oestrogen production, which can increase instances of breast cancer. In addition, the compound has been found to diminish thyroid hormones. Studies confirming links between octinoxate and thyroid diseases are inconclusive, but the compound is thought to affect regular thyroid function. Research is also being conducted on octinoxate and developmental disorders, how it affects people with allergies, and whether or not it could have effects on reproductive organs. So far, studies have shown it has effects the reproductive system in high doses.

In men, octinoxate has been shown to decrease sperm count in male lab species. Lab studies also found that male specimens exposed to octinoxate displayed a reduction in the weight of their organs. The level of octinoxate used to obtain these results isn’t known, but leading dermatology experts agree that part of the harm caused by the compound is a result of its quick absorption by the skin. The body can also accumulate octinoxate absorbed during application of products that contain the compound. As such, octinoxate harms parts of the body other than where it is applied.

The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has also found that octinoxate is of concern for the environment as well. The effects of octinoxate on cells is also undergoing study. One study has posited that octinoxate could contribute to the death of cells and could affect the cardiovascular system.

Gaging risks

The best way to keep safe from octinoxate is to be cautious when buying skincare products as well as cosmetics. Some may doubt if octinoxate may be just as dangerous as going without sunscreen. For those who wear make-up, one can substitute products with octinoxate with cosmetics that are made of other ingredients, such as organic or mineral make-up brands.

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