Did you know that Avobenzone is the most used sunscreen ingredient in the world? It has been around since 1871 and it is so widely used because of its ability to provide protection from the entire UVA range. It works by absorbing UVA rays and converting them into a less damaging form of heat, but lately it has been getting a lot of bad press. Critics say it should be avoided because of its instability and endocrine-disruption potential. But is all this true or is Avobenzone one of those ingredients that’s been unfairly maligned?
Is Avobenzone stable?
No, Avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789 and butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane) is not stable, which means that it breaks down very quickly when exposed to light. In fact, it is rendered almost completely ineffective within just one hour! Sounds pretty useless, doesn’t it? Well, it is on its own, but luckily Avobenzone is often used with photo-stabilising ingredients, such as Octocrylene, and technologies like Helioplex, SunSure and AvoTriplex, that help it last longer. However, photostabilizers can increase the risk of skin irritation. It is also important to remember that all chemical sunscreen ingredients degrade overtime which is why doctors recommend to reapply sunscreens every two hours or so.
Is Avobenzone an endocrine-disruptor?
But what really seems to concern consumers about Avobenzone is its endocrine-disruptor potential. Although this can seem quite scary, there really isn’t anything to worry about. That’s because its endocrine-disrupting abilities are “several orders of magnitude lower than that of the natural estrogens”. In fact, there are lots of plants extracts that have a higher potential to disrupt the endocrine system, but somehow they never seem to attract negative attention because we are lead to believe that if something is natural, then it can’t be dangerous. I don’t mean to say that all plants extracts are dangerous either because they’re not, only that the fact something has endocrine-disrupting abilities doesn’t automatically makes it dangeorus. In any case, those of Avobenzone are really negligible and nothing you should be worrying about.
Is Avobenzone absorbed by the body?
Although there is no research showing that Avobenzone is toxic or dangerous for human health, a study has found that this ingredient is absorbed by the body and secreted into urine. Because of it, it is recommended not to use Avonenzone on children and pregnant women. As a precautionary measure, it is best to use on them physical sunscreens, ie those with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which are gentler, less irritating and haven’t been shown to be secreted into urine.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Avobenzone is a great UVA filter when used in conjunction with ingredients that help stabilize it, which is usually the case. Its potential to disrupt the endocrine system is so minimal to be negligible. However, Avobenzone can be absorbed by the body and, while there is no proof that it is toxic, it should still be avoided by children and pregnant women as a precautionary measure.
Do you use products with Avobenzone or do you prefer to avoid this ingredient?