What is Octisalate: Chemical Free Living

What is Octisalate

What is octisalate?

Octisalate is a colorless liquid that is used to absorb UVB rays and also to add water-resistance properties to a formula, typically sunscreens [4][1]. It degrades when it is exposed to sunlight, so it typically appears with other sunscreen agents and needs to be applied frequently. It is used to stabilize avobenzone to extend sun protection.

What products is octisalate in?

Octisalate is found in sunscreens as well as products that contain fragrance as an ingredient [4].

How to tell if a product has octisalate

Octisalate goes by multiple names including EHS; 2-ethylhexyl ester benzoic acid, 2-hydroxy-; 2-ethylhexyl ester salicylic acid; 2-ethylhexyl salicylate; ethylhexyl salicylate, 2-ethylhexyl 2-hydroxybenzoate; 2-hydroxy- 2-ethylhexyl ester benzoic acid; benzoic acid, 2-hydroxy-, 2-ethylhexyl ester; benzoic acid, 2hydroxy, 2ethylhexyl ester; brn 2730664; einecs 204-263-4 [4].

Risks associated with octisalate

Octisalate is less of a health and safety concern than other sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate, but Japan’s Standards for Cosmetics has restricted its use in certain types of cosmetics [1][4]. Health concerns associated with exposure to octisalate include immune effects and allergenic effects. [4]

How to avoid octisalate

Since octisalate is often used in conjunction with avobenzone and other chemically-based sunscreen ingredients that are more harmful like oxybenzone, the best way to avoid octisalate is to choose a toxic chemical free sunscreen that contains natural ingredients like zinc and titanium. Read product labels to avoid octisalate and all ingredient names that would indicate it’s presence (see above for octisalate synonyms). If only chemically-based sunscreens are available, stay in the shade and wear protective clothing to avoid sunburn [1][2][3].


[1] EWG (2007-2016). The Trouble with Oxybenzone and Other Sunscreen Chemicals. Available online: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/ December 20, 2016.

[2] Healthy Child Healthy World (2016). Worst Scoring Sunscreens for Kids. http://www.healthychild.org/worst-scoring-sunscreens-for-kids/ December 20, 2016.

[3] Healthy Child Healthy World (2016). Practice Safer Sunscreening. Available online: http://www.healthychild.org/easy-steps/practice-safer-sunscreening/ December 20, 2016.

[4] EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (2007-2016). Octisalate. Available online: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704204/OCTISALATE/ December 21, 2016.

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