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2D structural formula of Octinoxate


What is it?

“Octyl methoxycinnamate or ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (INCI) or octinoxate (USAN), trade names Eusolex 2292 and Uvinul MC80, is an organic compound that is an ingredient in some sunscreens and lip balms. It is an ester formed from methoxycinnamic acid and (RS)-2-ethylhexanol…  chemical formula C18H26O3,” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Hawaii has passed a bill to prohibit octinoxate (and oxybenzone, part of the benzophenone group) in sunscreens due to its harmful effects on marine life, ecosystems and coral reefs.

Octinoxate cause “mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress (…) and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms.“

The chemical has been shown to “degrade corals’ resiliency and ability to adjust to climate change factors and inhibit recruitment of new corals.”

Octinoxate also cause endocrine (hormone) disruption; feminization in adult male fish and increase reproductive diseases in marine species. The chemicals cause deformities in the embryonic development of aquatic animals and is causing “neurological behavioral changes in fish”, that threaten the continuity of fish populations.”

The bill also says that environmental contamination of oxybenzone persists in Hawaii’s coastal waters, “as the contamination is constantly refreshed and renewed every day by swimmers and beachgoers. Swimming and other water activities cause these chemicals to pollute Hawaii’s water”. Another issue is that wastewater treatment systems are unable to remove chemicals of this sort. Rinsing off products containing oxybenzone is thus also causing environmental contamination from the sewage. Read the bill here.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund) list the substance as an endocrine disruptor, causing reproductive and developmental toxicity, and organ system toxicity. Octinoxate have shown to have hormone-mimicking effects (endocrine disruption), potentially disrupts thyroid function, and has been found in human urine, blood and breast milk. This shows of systematically exposure to the substance. The substance is on their Red List*.

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

In cosmetic products⋆, octinoxate is used as an ingredient that absorbs and protects against UV-B rays. The substance, also called Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) or ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, is therefore mostly found in sunscreen products, but can also be found in products like lip balms, hair colors, and nail polishes.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

Did you find this ingredient in a product?

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