< Back to the Blog

What Your Customers Know About Oxybenzone Could Affect Sunscreen Sales

Oxybenzone in Sunscreen


Mainstream marketing campaigns tell Australians to ‘slip, slop, slap’ whenever out in the sun, but could consumers be second guessing their sunscreen?

Previously many looked for the highest SPF rating as an indicator of the ‘best’ way to protect themselves from ultraviolent radiation (UV). Today it goes beyond this. With more emphasis on ingredient transparency and environmental protection than ever before, customers want to know what it is that they are applying to their skin.

An ingredient that’s being shunned more and more is oxybenzone.

What is oxybenzone?

Oxybenzone is an organic compound that can absorb UVB and UVA rays. The pale-yellow solid is readily soluble in most organic solvents.

There is a growing concern with the use of oxybenzone and the hazardous effects it can have on the environment and possible impact on human health.

Hazardous for the environment:
There’s a significant amount of research that identifies the harmful effects that even the smallest amount of oxybenzone has on coral.

Oxybenzone can reach our reefs by washing off during a swim and washing down the drains when showering off sunscreen. It is also highly absorbent through skin and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki says “on average, oxybenzone will appear in the urine of over 96% of those who apply it to their skin.”

The absorption of oxybenzone could be negatively affecting health, as well as the environment (when flushed into our waterways through oxybenzone contaminated urine).

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki found that it can be toxic to baby coral and can greatly contribute to coral bleaching at levels as low as 62 parts per trillion (equivalent to one drop in 6.5 Olympic swimming pools).

According to a 2015 paper published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, annually the world’s reefs are exposed to up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen.

Hazardous for health:
The US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health says that there may be potential adverse effects induced by UV-filters like oxybenzone.

As mentioned above, oxybenzone has been found to be highly absorbent through the skin, which is sparking concerns about it being hazardous to health, including skin reactions and hormone disruption.

Studies into the side-effects on health are few and in the early stages. More intensive research needs to be conducted before a conclusive stance on whether oxybenzone is unsafe for health can be concluded.

What is oxybenzone commonly found in?

Oxybenzone is most commonly found in sunscreen and can also be found in sunscreen moisturiser, sunscreen lip-balm, nail polish, fragrance, hair spray, sunscreen makeup, baby sunscreen and a range of other body, hair and cosmetic products. It is used in over 3,500 sunscreen preparations worldwide.

Is there a better alternative?

EWG (Environmental Working Group) said they agree with the Professional Association of Underwater Instructors and the National Park Service, who recommend using sunscreens that use zinc oxide and avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone.

Read more about EWG’s thoughts on oxybenzone here.

“ zinc oxide is not as harmful to coral as oxybenzone. So we could use these (and other chemicals) which don’t harm humans nor ocean creatures—or we could cover up.” – Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

What are the synonyms?

Oxybenzone can also be listed as 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone, 4-Methoxy-2-hydroxybenzophenone, Advastab 45, AI3-23644, Anuvex, Benzophenone, 2-hydroxy-4-methoxy-Benzophenone-3, BRN 1913145, CCRIS 1078, Chimassorb 90, Cyasorb UV 9, Cyasorb UV 9 Light Absorber, EC 205-031-5, EINECS 205-031-5, Escalol 567, Eusolex 4360, HMBP, HSDB 4503, MOB, MOD, NCI-C60957, NSC 7778, NSC-7778, Ongrostab HMB, Oxibenzona, Oxibenzona [INN-Spanish], Oxibenzonum, Oxybenzon, Oxybenzonum, Oxybenzonum [INN-Latin], Solbar, Spectra-sorb UV 9, Sunscreen UV-15, Syntase 62, UF 3, UNII-95OOS7VE0Y, USAF CY-9, UV 9, Uvinul 9, Uvinul M40 and Uvistat 24.

What is safer sunscreen?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) legislation only requires sunscreen products to list the active ingredients and the preservative system, but natural brands have opened up the transparency of their sunscreens, exposing all ingredients used in their formulations. This may help your customers more clearly decide on whether a certain brand is better for them.

For customers concerned about the effects that oxybenzone may have on the environment and their health, offer them natural sunscreens that use zinc as the UV filter instead. These include Eco Sunscreen (Body, Baby and Face),  Simple As That Sunscreen, UV Natural Sunscreen (Body, Baby, Sport and Lip) and Wotnot Sunscreen.

New to the natural sunscreen category

The newest product to the Wotnot Sunscreen range, goes beyond offering a natural, chemical UV filter-free sunscreen. The SPF 30 Anti-Aging, Daily Defence For Face is made with certified organic ingredients and is specifically created for the modern-day, fast-paced lifestyle that many women live.

It helps to protect, prime and brighten the skin, while the Cosmos approved plant collagen helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s an all-in-one face sunscreen that’s made with 100% wot’s good and 0% wot’s not! Another reason for your customers to love this new product is the super competitive price point.


Help your customers get ready for the warm weather ahead. Add a range of oxybenzone-free sunscreens to your next online order here. If you’re not yet a Unique Health Products’ retailer, it’s easy to get your wholesale account started here.