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2014 Allergen of the Year


So every year, the American Contact Dermatitis Society names an allergen of the year to help raise awareness on that allergen. This year, the allergen named is the family of benzophenones. When reading ingredient labels on your skin care and cosmetic products, have you noticed this ingredient?? Or can you think of a product it can be found in?

Benzophenones are chemical compounds used to absorb ultraviolet rays and hence used in many products to help preserve color or scents such as in paints and personal care products. Benzophenones can be found in hair coloring, moisturizers, shampoo, nail polish, lipstick, creams and oh I can’t forget to mention, sunscreens. Out of the family of benzophenones, the most common ones found in our personal care products are benzophenone-3 and benzophenone-4.

Although the incidence of contact dermatitis to benzophenones is still relatively low, benzophenone use in past decades to personal care products and cosmetics has been on the rise. Benzophenones have been shown to cause contact allergies as well as photocontact allergies, so unsurprisingly, sunscreens and personal care products have been sources for these allergic reactions. If you’re suspicious that your sunscreen may be the cause for your allergic skin reaction, a benzophenone could be the culprit.

When reading ingredient labels, be sure to look out for other names the allergen can also be known as. For example, benzophenone-3 is also commonly known as oxybenzone. Benzophenone-4 is also commonly known as sulisobenzone. If you're concerned over a product containing a specific ingredient, your best bet would be to contact its manufacturer.

How many products do you frequently come in contact with contain a benzophenone?

If you’re curious, as an exercise, read the ingredient labels of all the daily products you use; including creams, sunscreens, make-up, lotions etc. see how many products show up with this ingredient. Then let me know how many you came up with in the comments below.

I know I know, reading ingredient labels is such a drag, but it's a good start to getting us more aware of the ingredients in our products; in this case, benzophenones.

I've just started counting 2 products (a skin cream and hair gel) and guess what? They both contain benzophenone...guess it's in more products than I thought..

hair gel, reaaalllly? 

till next time skin ravers,