Octocrylene: a dangerous compound in your cosmetics

The CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and Sorbonne University pointed to this recently debated ingredient in a study. Over time, this synthetic compound changes in its container and could become extremely harmful to your health. What are the risks? Which products are involved? How to avoid it? Let’s interpret this study to help you understand the risks you incur.

What is octocrylene and what does this study from the CNRS reveal?

The octocrylene is a sun protective organic filter often used in the manufacturing process of sunscreen and anti-ageing creams. It is made out of carbon compounds and absorbs a majority of  UVB rays, responsible for the tan, sunburns and skin cancers.

While often found in sunscreens and anti-ageing creams, the octocrylene can also be found in some moisturizing creams, shampoos and self tanning creams. Products with octocrylene in their ingredients are common and can be sold in supermarkets as well as drugstores.

On Monday 8th March, a new study led by CNRS and Sorbonne University researchers revealed many dangers associated with this ingredient found in many cosmetic products. Over time when the ingredient ages, the octocrylene turns into benzophenone, a substance known to be a highly carcinogenic endocrine disruptor.

But how did those researchers discover this?

To see this study through, the tested products underwent an ageing process in the United States of America. This process amounts to one year spent in normal conditions at an ambient temperature. Then, they analyzed the products with a spectrometer. Researchers reveal that at first, the amount of benzophenone was very low in the products. But it gradually accelerates and with the ageing, the product can reach up to 200% of benzophenone.

What are the hazards and the consequences tied to the presence of octocrylene?

Even though octocrylene is supposed to absorb the sun rays responsible for skin cancers and protect us from them, it can paradoxically expose us to this kind of risk.

A product with aged octocrylene in it represents an important threat for our health as well as for the environment. Dangers are to be known and seriously taken into account.

In addition to being carcinogenic, octocrylene can be toxic for sexual reproduction. It can also be a serious metabolic and endocrine disruptor for humans. Even more disturbing, this substance is very easily absorbed by the skin.

In animal studies, the exposure to that compound could cause liver cancer, lymphomas and dermatological issues.

As for the environment, octocrylene is harmful for marine biodiversity, particularly for corals. This is why some governments from coral reef surrounded islands prohibited this ingredient in sunscreens.

Of course, this threat mustn’t stop you from protecting yourself from the sun. On the contrary, exposing your skin without protection is just as dangerous and can cause serious skin issues.

The danger is very much existent, but the more you’re informed, the more precautious you are when you buy. Some very easy actions can allow you to avoid those harmful substances and their danger.

How can I avoid the risk with cosmetics?

To avoid any risk, we urge you to read the labels at the back of your cosmetic products. There is an INCI list (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) where every ingredient must be indicated. So if there is octocrylene in your product, you can find it in this list. If you see it in the ingredients, stay away!

Also, we recommend you don’t exceed the expiry date on all your cosmetic products. Once passed, the ingredients start to degrade and it can cause dermatological issues.

To be aware of the expiry of your product, you can look for the date of minimum durability which is mandatory on the packaging. It can be a classic expiry date, but for cosmetics it’s common to have a period-after-opening labelling. It’s a symbol representing an opened jar with a number of months. It represents the number of months you can use the products safely after opening it for the first time.

To find the safest products, you can turn to organic and certified products submitted to a strict standard. Chemical compounds are prohibited in those products and most of their ingredients are from natural origin. You cannot find octocrylene or other chemical and harmful components in those kinds of products.

The study led by the CNRS and Sorbonne University shows us that we don’t necessarily know the ingredients in the cosmetics we use on a daily basis. As a result, hazards that we didn’t suspect represent a huge threat for both our health and the environment. The best choice you can make is to choose quality products which will cause no problems due to their certification and ingredients origin. They will simply take care of you as a normal cosmetic should!

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