It is nearly summer and almost everyone is on the lookout for an SPF. There is so many sun screen brands on the market with so many  different ingredients, that it is so hard to pick the right one. It is even more difficult considering that  sunscreen ingredients have meaningless long names like Octocrylene. It sounds harmless, doesn’t it?  Lets find out if it actually is 🙂

What is octocrylene and what is its function

Octocrylene is a UV filter. It protects from all UVB rays and only short UVA rays. It still lets those pesky long UVA rays through 🙁

It might seem better than any other UV filter, but only at a first glance. It might seem so, because most of  the sunscreen ingredients  on the market protect either from UVA or UVB rays.

The problem starts when octocrylene is the only UV filter in a product. It is too weak on its own  to keep you safe from UV harm. You might wonder why companies use it. Well it has a few tricks up its sleeve. It makes skincare products containing it water-resistant. It also helps prevent unstable UV filters from degrading  when exposed to sunlight. Octocrylane basically boosts other UV filters and help coat the skin better.

Octocrylene and free radicals

A 2006 study (Sunscreen enhancement of UV-induced reactive oxygen species in the skin)  found that Octocrylene is absorbed into the skin and causes the formation of free radicals when exposed to sunlight.

Since free radicals can damage DNA, there is concern that octocrylene  might have contributed to an increased incidence of melanoma in sunscreen-users compared to non-users. Researchers say further studies are warranted to determine the true health impact of this ingredient.

If you must use an SPF containing octocrylene make sure you are using antioxodant rich serums along with it.

The Cosmetics Database finds Octocrylene to be a moderate hazard, due to potential reproductive toxicity and the potential carcinogenic side effects. However, toxicity issues resulted from high concentrations not found in topical sunscreens and other skin care products.

Octocrylene – chemical Names

2-Ethylhexyl 2-cyano-3,3-diphenylacrylate
2-Propenoic acid, 2-cyano-3,3-diphenyl-, 2-ethylhexyl ester
Octocrilenum [INN-Latin]
Octocrileno [INN-Spanish]
UV Absorber-3
CCRIS 4814
2-Cyano-3,3-diphenylacrylic Acid 2-Ethylhexyl Ester
EINECS 228-250-8
2-Ethylhexyl 2-cyano-3,3-diphenyl-2-acrylate
2-Ethylhexyl 2-cyano-3,3-diphenyl-2-propenoate
2-ethylhexyl 2-cyano-3,3-diphenylprop-2-enoate
Octocrilene (INN)
Octocrilene [INN]

Is octocrylene an allergen?

Octocrylene is a potential allergen. According to an article published in the Contact Dermatitis journal, reports of positive patch testing have been on the increase. Here’s some additional information from Medscape about sunscreen allergies. The Archives of Dermatology and the Dermatology Journal Online also discuss allergic responses to Octocrylene.

Octocrylene appears to be an allergen leading to contact dermatitis in children and mostly photo-allergic contact dermatitis in adults with an often-associated history of photo-allergy from ketoprofen.

Patients with a photo-allergy from ketoprofen should avoid sunscreen products containing octocrylene, benzophenone-3, or fragrances.

Octocrylene and coral reef

Currently, there has only been one study published linking sunscreen chemicals to the death of coral reefs published by R. Danovara. And while published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning the article has been critically assessed by a panel of scholars in the author’s, more studies will be needed to effectively conclude that swimmer’s sunscreens are putting 10% of the world’s coral reefs at risk of bleaching.

The Haereticus Environmental Laboratory researches the effects of sunscreens and other personal care ingredients on coral reefs and on other ecosystems and wildlife. Their list of ingredients that they consider to be environmental pollutants includes:

  • Any form of microplastic sphere or beads.
  • Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • Octocrylene
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Benzylparaben
  • Triclosan


I personally avoid using Octocrylene in my skincare. I use sunscreens religiously and supplement vitamin D since sunscreens are making it that bit harder for my body to make vitamin D when exposes to sun light.  I have a few octocrylene free SPF 🙂 To follow soon will be an article on my favourite sunscreens 🙂