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Benzophenone-3

* Also known as oxybenzone

Benzophenone-3, or oxybenzone, primarily functions as a photostabilizer and sunscreen. Among the vast selection of sunscreen active ingredients, Benzophenone-3 is classified as a "chemical" sunscreen agent. Inadequate when used alone, benzophenone-3 absorbs UVB and short UVA rays but is a relatively weak chemical UV absorber. By absorbing UV rays, it also helps preserve the integrity of other cosmetic ingredients, preventing their deterioration under the sun. For this reason, benzophenone-3 is most often used in conjunction with other sunscreen agents. Besides sunscreen, it can be found in a variety of personal care products such as nail polish, lotions, and lipstick.

* Also known as oxybenzone

Functions of Benzophenone-3:

Benzophenone-3, or oxybenzone, primarily functions as a photostabilizer and sunscreen. Among the vast selection of sunscreen active ingredients, Benzophenone-3 is classified as a "chemical" sunscreen agent. Inadequate when used alone, benzophenone-3 absorbs UVB and short UVA rays but is a relatively weak chemical UV absorber. By absorbing UV rays, it also helps preserve the integrity of other cosmetic ingredients, preventing their deterioration under the sun. For this reason, benzophenone-3 is most often used in conjunction with other sunscreen agents. Besides sunscreen, it can be found in a variety of personal care products such as nail polish, lotions, and lipstick.

Safety Measures/Side Effects of Benzophenone-3:

There are several suspected dangers associated with benzophenone-3 or oxybenzone. As with its close chemical relative benzophenone-4 (Sulisobenzone), this sunscreen agent has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity. In some studies, the presence of benzophenone-3 has demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells. For this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of melanoma cases with sunscreen users. Some studies have shown it to behave similarly to the hormone estrogen, suggesting that it may cause breast cancer (source). It has also been linked to contact eczema and allergies.

In addition, there exist many concerns regarding the human body's absorption of benzophenone-3. In one study, individuals applied a sunscreen with 4% benzophenone-3 and submitted urine samples five days after topical application. Consequently, all the subjects' urine secretions were found to contain benzophenone-3, suggesting the body's ability to store the substance (source). In 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention conducted a similar experiment on a national scale, and found the chemical compound to be present in 96.8% of the human urine samples surveyed (source). As a result, this ingredient is considered unsuitable for children under two years of age, who have not yet developed the enzyme to break down derivatives of benzophenone.

Though a fair amount of scientific evidence points to the adverse effects of benzophenone-3, additional tests are required before making any definite conclusions. It must be noted that this ingredient still possesses less severe risks than those associated with PABA. Furthermore, many dermatologists insist that, because dermal absorption of benzophone-3 appears to be low and still effectively protects against UV rays, this ingredient should not be ruled out entirely.

The FDA has approved the use of Benzophenone-3 as a safe and effective OTC sunscreen ingredient, but only in concentrations up to 6%. The EU Cosmetics Directive has also assessed the sunscreen ingredient as safe at up to concentrations of 10%, and requires products that contain more than .5% of the ingredient to be labeled "contains Oxybenzone." Sweden has banned the use of this ingredient.

Recommended Products with Benzophenone-3:

Shielo Color Protect Reflecting Conditioner ($25)

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