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Allergies to Sunscreen

Howdy Skin Ravers! Its a beautiful, clear yet cool day in NYC and yes, this past weekend was a warm 80 degrees Fahrenheit! woo hoo FIIIIINALLY!

With warmer weather, many of us think to start using sunscreen or use more of it. Of course, we know we should wear sunscreen everyday, but unfortunately this isn't always the case.  

Today I want to review again, an ingredient found in sunscreens as the warmer season is coming upon us: benzophenones.

Benzophenone was named Allergen of the Year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society in 2014. 

Initially, it was used to preserve the shelf life of varnishes and paints, then was added to sunscreens in the 1950s. It's use today has expanded to many personal care and cosmetic products in addition to sunscreens. Due to its prevalence in many products, it is definitely an ingredient to become aware of and why it was named Allergen of the Year.

Did you know...

  • Out of the benzophenone family, oxybenzone is the most often used in sunscreens
  • Others commonly used include sulisobenzone, dioxybenzone and mexenone
  • It can be found as an ingredient in sunscreen, hairspray, shampoo, nail polish, perfume, dye, face cream, body moisturizer, make-up, paint, inks and photography filters
  • It can cause allergic contact dermatitis as well as in sunscreen use, cause photoallergic contact dermatitis when exposed to UV rays
  • Contact dermatitis reaction symptoms can include redness, itching, red or pink bumps or even fluid filled blisters

So what do you do if you find out you're allergic...

  • avoid products listing it as an ingredient, it is important to avoid contact with it
  • if you want to use a product and are not sure if it contains benzophenone, contact the manufacturer to provide you with all the ingredients used in that product. If they choose not to share the information with you, choose not to use that product
  • read ingredient labels but do not solely rely on them (manufacturers can leave out ingredients on the label)
  • try sunscreens which use physical sunblocking ingredients to reflect and scatter UV rays such as zinc oxide instead of chemical ingredients
  • discuss with your dermatologist this problem and any alternative brands he/she recommends

Look for other names it can be known as:

  • benzophenone 3 (oxybenzone)
  • benzophenone 4 (sulisobenzone)
  • benozphenone 8 (dioxybenzone)
  • benzophenone 10 (mexenone) 

Ingredient names and listings can change at anytime so in addition to reading product ingredient labels, reach out to manufacturers. 

Summer is on its way along with increased sunscreen use in hot weather, summer activities and just enjoying the outdoors. If you're one of the individuals who experiences an allergic reaction after using sunscreen or any other product containing a benzophenone, check the ingredient label, it could be related to a benzophenone.Looking for some alternatives to chemical sunscreens, go here

Have a wonderful weekend and don't forget the sunscreen!