Found in plastics, sunscreen, hairsprays, nail polish and cosmetics. Oxybenzone is a chemically that is naturally found in plants, but is commercially produced from benzoyl chloride. Oxybenzone is used in sunscreen and cosmetics, due to its ability absorb and filter ultraviolet light. On a scale of 1 to 10, concerns about Oxybenzone are at about 8 out of 10, which is very high. Here are some reasons why Oxybenzone is an incredibly problematic ingredient and should be avoided at all costs.
A lot of this worry stems from the fact that Oxybenzone produces excess reactive oxygen species (ROS). If you’re looking blankly at your screen, don’t worry, you’re not alone. ROSs are formed as a by-product of normal metabolism and have an important role in maintaining equilibrium or the temperature in the body and the communication processes of cells. ROS levels can rapidly increase upon exposure to UV light, heat, dehydration and various forms of radiation, among other things. If ROS levels increase faster than the body can detoxify or repair itself, oxidative stress results, meaning a whole lot of damage is done to cells making them less able to maintain equilibrium and disrupting cellular signalling.
Another concern raised about Oxybenzone, is that it may impact your hormones. A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group or EWB, suggested that Oxybenzone could have potentially have an impact on the endocrine system, which are the glands in your body that produce hormones. The study showed that adolescent boys who had an increased exposure to Oxybenzone had lower testosterone levels. While the EWG acknowledges that further research needs to be done on this to be 100% conclusive, they suggest that there is already enough conclusive concerns raised about Oxybenzone that it could and should be avoided. Especially since the EWG’s study also suggested that Oxybenzone could be detected in nearly every American’s blood. And while we are not all in America, alarmingly, you have to wonder if this is a pattern globally?
Oxybenzone is not only potentially hazardous to you, but our environment as well. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution may not be the only elements affecting our coral reefs, but chemical sunscreens may also be affecting the state of our coral reefs. Recent studies have found that when chemicals such as Oxybenzone enter the water through sunscreen, they can damage coral’s DNA and development, therefore making it more susceptible to coral bleaching. Coral bleaching occurs as a result of high water temperatures, meaning that Oxybenzone in sunscreen has the complete opposite effect in the ocean than it does for humans. According to a study conducted in the US, a coral reef in Hawaii was found to be exposed to over 6000 tons of sunscreen per year. If you would like to see less heartbreaking images like this one of the coral bleached Great Barrier Reef below, we strongly suggest checking whether the sunscreen in your cupboard contains Oxybenzone.
Given the potential risk that Oxybenzone could have on you, your body, and our marine life. We strongly recommend avoiding this ingredient the next time you are protecting yourself whilst out in the sun.