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Also-called-like-this: Oxybenzone
What-it-does: sunscreen
Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 0


A chemical sunscreen agent that absorbs UVB and short UVA rays (280-350nm) with its peak protection at 288 nm. Unlike many other chemical sunscreens, it is highly stable but its UV absorbing abilities are weak so it always has to be combined with other sunscreen agents for proper protection. More often than not, it's used as a photostabilizer rather than a proper sunscreen agent as it can protect formulas nicely from UV damage.

Regarding safety, BP-3 is somewhat controversial. First, its molecules are small (228 Da) and very lipophilic (oil loving) and these properties result in very good absorption. The problem is that you want sunscreens on the top of your skin and not in your bloodstream, so for BP-3 this is a problem. In fact, it absorbs so well that 4 hours after application of a sunscreen product with BP-3, it can be detected in urine

Another concern of BP-3 is that it shows some estrogenic activity, though it's probably not relevant when applied topically to the skin. Estrogenic activity was confirmed only in-vitro (in test tubes) and when taken orally by lab animals, and not when used topically as you would normally. In fact, a 2004 follow-up study to examine the estrogenic effect of sunscreens when used topically on the whole body found that "the endogenous levels of reproductive hormones were unaffected" (even though BP-3 could be detected both in plasma and urine, so its absorption is no doubt too good).

If that was not enough, Wikipedia claims that BP-3 is nowadays the most common allergen found in sunscreens, and the always-trustworthy smartskincare writes that "[benzophenones] have been shown in some studies to promote the generation of potentially harmful free radicals".

On the up side, sunscreens are pretty well regulated in several parts of the world, and BP-3 is considered "safe as used" and is an allowed sunscreen agent everywhere. It can be used in concentrations of up to 10% in the EU and up to 6% in the US.

Overall, BP-3 is probably our least favorite sunscreen agent and we prefer sunscreens without it. However, if you find a formula that you love and contains BP-3, we do not think that you should throw it away. A sunscreen with BP-3 is definitely better than no sunscreen. 

Show me some proof

  • Janjua, Nadeem Rezaq, et al. "Systemic absorption of the sunscreens benzophenone-3, octyl-methoxycinnamate, and 3-(4-methyl-benzylidene) camphor after whole-body topical application and reproductive hormone levels in humans." Journal of Investigative Dermatology 123.1 (2004): 57-61.
  • Schlumpf, Margret, et al. "In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens." Environmental health perspectives 109.3 (2001): 239.

Products with Benzophenone-3

Chapstick Active With SPF 30, Original Flavour Dermaglós Protector Solar Con FPS 50 Invisible En Spray Continuo Episol Color FPS70 Solbar Fifty Water Resistant Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Protection Cream U veil U-veil Forte Cream-SPF 60 Urban Skin Rx Complexion Protection Moisturizer Spf30 Apex Sunblock-Oc 45 Oil Control Matte Gel Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 15 Azha Whitening Cream SPF 20 Beach Hut Face Ultra-Sensitive Hypoallergenic Sunscreen Spf65 Beach Hut Max 100++ SPF Unbelievably Light Lotion Sunscreen Bio Active Sun Protection Extra Whitening+Vitamin-C Cream SPF 60 CGG Cosmetics Aqua Bomb Sunscreen Carmex Classic Lip Balm Original Stick Carmex Fresh Cherry SPF 15 Clinique Spf 50 Sunscreen Face Cream Creme classique Safari SPF 40 Dermaquest Solar Moisturizer Spf 30 Dr. Davey Cream SPF 60 Dr. Davey SPF 60 Duke Cannon Supply Co Offensively Large Lip Balm - Extra Large Lip Balm For Men With Fresh Mint Flavor And SPF 15 Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Lift And Firm Eye Cream Spf15 Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick Elizabeth Arden Pro Triple Protection Factor Face And Body Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion Essentials Sun Block Protection & Moisture SPF 50 Ethicare remedies UV Med SPF Gel Face Reality Daily Spf30 Lotion Garnier Ombrelle Kids Sunscreen Lotion Wet N' Protect Garnier Ombrelle Ultra Light Advanced Weightless Body Lotion Spf50+ Garnier Ombrelle Ultra-Fluid Lotion - SPF 60 Higher Education Skincare Make Out Ready Lip Balm La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mist SPF 50 For Body La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion Spf 50 For Body Lady Diana Collection Face & Body Sunblock & Whitening Lotion SPF 40 Levinia Crema Hidroactiva Lise Watier Lift & Firm 3D Ultra Firming Rejuvenating Day Creme SPF 15 Marcelle Flawless Air Serum Foundation Spf 15 Marcelle Sheer Tint Moisturizer Spf 30 Mash Sunprotection Lotion SPF 45 Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen Spf 50+ Merle Norman Anti-aging Complex Emulsion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer Spf 45 Neutrogena Moistureshine Lip Soother Lipgloss Spf20 Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer® Face Sunscreen (Spf 60) Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Lip Moisturizer With Sunscreen Spf 15 Nuvel Sun Care Ultra Protection 50 SPF Olay Total Effects 7-in-one Moisturizer With Sunscreen SPF 30 PLUM Grape Seed & Sea Buckthorn Light Stay Day Cream Spf 30