Also known as octyl methoxycinnamate and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, octinoxate is the oldest and most common sunscreen active used to protect skin, primarily against UVB rays. Although octinoxate does provide some UVA protection, it does not protect against the entire range of UVA wavelengths; therefore, there should be another UVA-protecting active present in any sunscreen you use.
Octinoxate has a solid record of safety (decades of research and thousands of studies establishing its safety in sunscreens as indisputable). There are no studies that demonstrate octinoxate, when and as used in SPF products, is harmful. In the sole studies cited when such claims are made, the conditions are completely inapplicable to how sunscreen ingredients are used in skincare products. For example, such “studies” use extremely high concentrations of octinoxate (much higher than would ever be used in sunscreens) or even fed to lab animals. [1,2]
There simply isn’t any research backing the claim that octinoxate has any link to health risks when used in sunscreen formulas. In fact, the European Union’s permitted usage level for octinoxate in sunscreens is higher than the maximum amount permitted in the United States (7.5% in the United States, 10% in the EU). [3,4]
- Montenegro L, Puglisi G. Evaluation of sunscreen safety by in vitro skin permeation studies: effects of vehicle composition. Pharmazie. 2013;68(1):34-40.
- Hayden C, Cross S, Anderson C, Saunders N, Roberts M. Sunscreen penetration of human skin and related keratinocyte toxicity after topical application. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2005;18(4):170-4.
- European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers. Cosmetic Ingredient Glossary; Substance: 2-Ethylhexyl 4-methoxycinnamate / Octinoxate. [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2015 July]. Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosingindex.cfm?fuseaction=search.details_v2&id=28816.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21--FOOD AND DRUGS. [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2015 July]. Available from: www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=352.50.