Sunscreen agent (also known as benzophenone-3) that protects primarily from UVB rays, and some, but not all, UVA rays. It is part of the benzophenone group of chemicals.
Oxybenzone is approved for use in specific concentrations for sunscreens sold in all major countries, including the United States, Canada, European Union countries, Japan, Australia, China, and South Korea. Its safety in sunscreens is well established.
As a group, the benzophenones are used not only for sun protection but also as photostabilizers in cosmetics products. That means they keep products from turning color or from degrading in the presence of sunlight. They also have other uses, including flavor enhancers in food.
References for this information:
Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, 2011, pages 58-67
Archives of Dermatology, July 2011 pages 865-866
European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers. Opinion on Benzophenone-3. [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2015 July]. Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_159.pdf