What is Avobenzone

Daniel Judd BSc MBiol
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What is Avobenzone?

 

Avobenzone is a synthetic chemical that is widely used as an active ingredient in sunscreens. It’s similar in structure to another group of chemical sunscreens called benzophenones but it’s a little larger.

Chemical sunscreens as a whole are small molecules that block or absorb UV light. They are distinct from mineral sunscreens which are metal based, like titanium dioxide.

 

How does it work?

Sunscreens work to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. As well as causing sunburn, UV rays can shine through your skin and damage the DNA of your skin cells, causing mutations that can lead to cancer. Some types of UV directly damage the DNA while other types create reactive molecules called free radicals which attack your DNA. Your body’s natural defence against this damage triggers an inflammation response, but this inflammation damages the collagen in your skin, leading to wrinkled and aged looking skin.

Avobenzone applied to the skin as sunscreen absorbs the UV rays before it can reach your cells’ DNA. When light gets absorbed, it eventually gets released again at a lower energy; this turns UV rays into harmless visible or infrared light.

Avobenzone has one drawback in that it isn’t very stable on its own under sunlight. Other stabilising ingredients need to be added in order to protect the avobenzone and let it keep working.

 

Safety

Side effects:

Avobenzone is considered one of the better tolerated chemical sunscreens but it can still trigger an allergic response in the form of redness and swelling. Most concentrations of this ingredient range from three to five percent when included in a sunscreen, and products with these percentages are usually safe. It is recommended, however, that you keep it out of the eyes and avoid swallowing it.

Interactions with other medicines: 

Avobenzone is not known to interact with any medication when applied topically.

 

Other names

Butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane, 4-tert-butyl-4′-methoxydibenzoylmethane, 1-(4-Methoxyphenyl)-3-(4-tert-butylphenyl)propane-1,3-dione, parsol 1789

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