Avobenzone

AKA: Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane
A popular sunscreen that protects against UVA rays, which cause premature aging and skin cancer. Avobenzone degrades after about 30 minutes of sun exposure and becomes ineffective. It is therefore often paired with UV-filter stabilizers such as octocrylene.
Also-Known-As:
Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane
All functions
Origin
Avobenzone

Overview

Avobenzone is an off-white crystalline powder that is soluble only in oils, including capric/caprylic triglycerides and decyl oleate.

Due to this solubility, it can produce sunscreens that are thin and transparent, which is a stark contrast to most mineral-based sunscreens that are thicker lotions and opaque in color.

This ingredient is found primarily in sunscreens as a UV filter active due to its ability to absorb ultraviolet (UV) light and, therefore, protect the skin from UV damage.

Specifically, avobenzone absorbs UVA light, which ranges from 315 to 400 nanometers in wavelength. This range of UV light penetrates deeper into the skin than other UV ranges and can cause long-term skin damage, including increased signs of aging due to DNA damage.

When exposed to UV light, avobenzone has a tendency to quickly degrade. As a result, it becomes ineffective at protecting against UV radiation after about thirty minutes of exposure, and it also releases free radicals into its immediate environment.

Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS), can be harmful to skin health. These quick-moving, high energy molecules are looking for a place to release their excess energy, and any nearby molecules are at risk of being torn apart by the ROS.

Proteins in the skin, including collagen and even the DNA found in skin, are prime targets for the ROS that are anxious to use up their energy. Thus, these critical skin molecules are destroyed by the ROS, and this can lead to problems like wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, and even some cancers.

To mitigate this instability, avobenzone is often paired with UV-stabilizing ingredients, such as octocrylene, butyloctyl salicylate, or ethylhexyl methoxycrylene.

In addition, antioxidants can also stabilize avobenzone, so the addition of vitamins E and C can prevent degradation of the sunscreen active.