is octocrylene dangerous?

And the trial of chemical UV filter continues…

Last week Octinoxate was on the witness’ stand. Now, it’s the turn of Octocrylene.

This UV filter is accused of causing allergies, premature aging, and destroying your health. Is all this true or have the rumours got out of hand once again?

Let’s examine the evidence:

Octocrylene: What Is It And What Does It Do?

Octocrylene is a UV filter that protects from ALL UVB but only short UVA rays (it still lets those pesky long UVA rays through).

At first glance, it seems more powerful than most UV filters. Most of them protects only from one type of UV rays. This does double (but not broad-spectrum – huge difference there!) duty.

Problem is, Octocrylene is very weak. Used alone, it wouldn’t be able to keep you safe from UV harm. So, why do brands bother to use it?

Octocrylene has a few tricks up its sleeve most other UV filters don’t:

  • It makes sunscreens water-resistant
  • It helps prevent unstable UV filters (like avobenzone) from degrading and becoming useless when exposed to sunlight
  • It boosts the effectiveness of other UV filters
  • It helps coat the skin better

No wonder it’s so popular!

FIY, both in Europe and USA, Octocrylene can only be used in concentrations up to 12%.

Related: Is Avobenzone In Sunscreen Dangerous?

Is your sunscreen up to the job? Download your free “Sunscreen Audit” cheatsheet below to make sure your sunscreen is both safe AND effective:

Does Octocrylene Cause Allergies?

Some of the rumours are indeed true. Octocrylene IS an allergen.

In 2010, the Archives Of Dermatology found that it “appears to be a strong allergen leading to contact dermatitis in children and mostly photoallergic contact dermatitis in adults with an often-associated history of photoallergy from ketoprofen [a pain reliever].

“Patients with photoallergy from ketoprofen frequently have positive photopatch test reactions to Octocrylene. These patients need to be informed of sunscreen products not containing Octocrylene, Benzophenone-3, or fragrances.”

Let’s put things into perspective now: only a minority of the population is allergic to Octocrylene. No need to panic here. But if you’re allergic to ketoprofen or have sensitive skin, avoid Octocrylene.

Related: Is Fragrance In Skincare As Bad As Paula Begoun Says?

Can Octocrylene Cause Free Radicals?

Now, let’s examine the other charge. Does Octocrylene causes wrinkles and nasty diseases?

A 2006 study shows that Octocrylene is absorbed into the skin and causes the formation of free radicals when exposed to light.

Free radicals don’t just cause wrinkles. They also damage DNA and lead to cancer.

Scary huh? Again, don’t panic. The study shows Octocrylene can can cause free radicals, not cancer. Even breathing causes free radicals, but you don’t stop doing it, do you?

Until scientists get to the bottom of the matter and find out just how damaging the free radicals made by Octocrylene really are, use this UV filter together with antioxidants-rich serums. Antioxidants are little warriors that destroy free radicals. Problem solved. 🙂

Related: What Are The Best Antioxidants-Rich Serums?

What Are The Best Sunscreens With Octocrylene?

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60 ($19.99): Available at Dermstore and Ulta
  • Paula’s Choice RESIST Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($33.00): Available at Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
  • Vichy Capital Soleil Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60 ($30.50): Available at Dermstore

Should You Avoid Octocrylene?

If you’re allergic to Octocrylene, stop using it immediately. Obvs.

If you’re not allergic to it, it depends. If you want its water-resistant benefits and are willing to slather on an antioxidants serum (something you should do anyway 😉 ), keep using it.

But if you’re not comfortable with the idea of your sunscreen causing free radicals, give it a pass.