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FutureDerm Posts, Sun Protection in Detail

How does Octinoxate Degrade Avobenzone?

Are you curious about what “2 + 2 addition of cinnamates and alkenes” actually means? Then check this out:


Enjoy and don’t hesitate to share and comment. 🙂

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


8 thoughts on “How does Octinoxate Degrade Avobenzone?

  1. As soon as I read your article, I added “read through ingredient lists for octinoxate” to my to-do list. My results aren’t exactly heartwarming. I’ve used some of these products for many years.

    The offenders:
    –Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Daily Mattifying Lotion SPF 15 (I used it for at least five years. I’ve switched to zinc oxide sunscreens and higher SPFs a couple of years ago.)
    –Paula’s Choice Ultra-Light SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray (It was discontinued last month. I’ve used dozens of bottles over the 7-8 years i used it.)
    –Every Nivea chapstick with avobenzone I own. (Luckily the Banana Boat chapsticks I have don’t contain it.)

    It’s in Coppertone Sensitive Skin Suncreen SPF 50 (on clearance at Target) and PC’s now-discontinued Moisturizing Lipscreen SPF 15. These two products don’t contain avobenzone, so I hope they’re still ok to use.

    Yikes. For many years I thought I was using adequate sunscreen because I always looked for avobenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc dioxide in the ingredient lists. Not a great feeling but at least I know better now.

    Posted by amy | October 28, 2012, 9:03 am
    • Yeah, I have no idea why Paula decided to use this combination in some of her products. Boo!

      But what’s important is that now you know, and will do much better in the future! And don’t worry so much about what happened in the past. What’s done is done, right?

      I mean, my story is probably worse than yours. I didn’t start wearing sunscreen until I was about 20. Before that, throughout high school, I was in 4 years of long distance track and cross country. And I was constantly out in the sun for hours everyday without any sunscreen. Not to mention that I had intensely bad acne that I’m sure permanently screwed up my skin. While I wish I could go back and change all that, all I can do now is take care of my skin as best as possible. 🙂

      So keep up the great work! “Constant vigilance!”

      Posted by John | October 28, 2012, 12:12 pm
      • Constant vigilance is right! Even with Paula’s sunscreens. I’m really glad you wrote that article. I had no idea! Also, I didn’t know that titanium dioxide covered a slightly smaller spectrum than zinc oxide until a couple of years ago. Constant vigilance.

        What’s done is, in fact, done. I’m putting my hope in the future of lasers. And acceptance. I have some acne scars because I had (and still have) acne. I have some sun spots from playing tennis and some great vacations. My skin will never be perfect. And that’s ok. But what I can’t accept, I’ll fight. It sounds like zinc oxide is still my best line of defense. AND LASERS!

        Posted by amy | October 31, 2012, 3:33 pm
        • Yeah, I also plan to get some laser resurfacing surgury in the future. Keep up the great work!

          Also, just a little note, while I think ZnO is the “best” UV filter overall, I don’t recommend it’s use alone since it’s difficult to achieve adequate UVB protection (ironically) by itself. That’s why all the products I recommended either included titanium dioxide and/or organic UV filters like octinoxate and octisalate in conjunction to ZnO.

          Happy Halloween!

          Posted by John | October 31, 2012, 7:29 pm
          • I’ve been so focused on UVA filters–I haven’t been checking UVB ingredients. I think the FDA has changed the labeling requirements so that “broad spectrum” has to be slightly less misleading now. But I’m still confused, and only a true sunscreen guru will know–and that’s you! Do I look for ZnO and octinoxate or octisalate? Or all three? For body sunscreen, I use Blue Lizard sensitive skin. It only contains inorganic TiO2 and ZnO. I buy it by the gallon and cover myself and my nieces and nephews with it during the summers. I sounds like I’ll have to switch to something else. I used to use the PC Sunscreen Spray for when they would rather jump back into the pool instead of waiting for the Blue Lizard to dry.

            For daily face (and neck!) sunscreen, I’ve switched from Neutrogena’s Pure and Free Daily Liquid (meh) and touch ups with the SPF 30 Colorescience brush (pricy but ok) to the Elta MD SPF 46 (LOVE! thanks to you) and still touch ups with the brush. BTW, EltaMD SPF 46 is available at some Costco stores. $37 for two 1.7 oz bottles. Score!

            I liked the Replenix Sheer Broad Spectrum Liquid last summer, but it doesn’t have an organic UVB. I use Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer which contains octinoxate, but I don’t put the TM all over my face or on my neck. It sounds like this isn’t an adequate combination either. Maybe I’ll keep it to layer over a different body sunscreen this summer. I really liked your article on foundation! Maybe it’s time I switched to something else.

            Posted by amy | November 17, 2012, 12:10 pm
            • Well, these days, you don’t usually have to check for UVB ingredients because all sunscreens contain them! Or there wouldn’t be an SPF rating, and then the product wouldn’t be a sunscreen!

              You only have to look for an organic UVB ingedient if the sunscreen only contains the ZnO inorganic UV filter. This is because ZnO alone doesn’t usually provide enough UVB protection (>SPF 15) despite what the label says, and should therefore include either an organic UVB filter. I actually prefer if a sunscreen contains only ZnO and TiO2, since they’re both inorganic UV filters. So the Blue Lizard sunscreen is EXCELLENT! I’ve been using it for about a year. The texture is just a bit too thick and white for me, which is the only reason why I switched. But if you can tolerate the texture and finish, there is absolutely no reason to switch. If you see my recommended list of sunscreens: https://thetriplehelixian.com/2012/09/15/are-inorganic-sunscreens-better-than-organic-ones-part-v-conclusion-and-product-recommendations-futurederm-post-v-0-22/, you’ll see that many of them include both TiO2 and ZnO, which I reiterate, is the best combination. (There should be roughly equal or more ZnO than TiO2).

              I do not recommend sunscreen sprays because there’s a much higher risk of inhalation. And we want to limit as much systemic exposure as possible, as demonstrated in Part III: https://thetriplehelixian.com/2012/09/03/are-inorganic-sunscreens-better-than-organic-ones-part-iii-toxicity-futurederm-post-v-0-20/

              And wow, nice Costco find! I’ll have to check my local one to see if they have other EltaMD sunscreens in stock! Gosh, I haven’t gone to Costco in years. 😦

              THe LM TM does not provide any UVA protection, so it wouldn’t be adequate anyways. If you really like that, you’ll want to layer it over something like the EltaMD SPF 46.

              Does that all make sense? You seem to be a bit confused on a few small details. Let me know so we can clear everything up!

              Posted by John | November 19, 2012, 6:10 am

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