Benzophenone-4: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: July 10, 2023
Table of Contents

You know the feeling – you’ve found the most gorgeous, highly praised cosmetic product. It’s been vetted by your favorite influencers, and you’re excited to incorporate it into your routine. You flip over the product to inspect the ingredients list and are met with a wall of scientific names and terms that sound more like a foreign language than a skincare formulation. Confusing, isn’t it?

One of these possibly intimidating ingredients that may have caught your eye is Benzophenone-4. Now, truly, doesn’t that name seem like something straight out of an advanced chemistry textbook? It’s hard to imagine such a term has anything to do with glowing skin or the perfect pout.

However, in the fascinating and complex world of cosmetics, Benzophenone-4 has its place. In this article, we will uncover the roles it performs, explore its potential benefits for the skin, and consider its uses within cosmetic products.

What is Benzophenone-4?

In the cosmetic sphere, Benzophenone-4 is a star player. Also known as Sulisobenzone, BP-4, or 5-Benzoyl-4-hydroxy-2-methoxybenzenesulfonic acid, this ingredient serves a central purpose: it’s a light stabilizer, UV absorber, and UV filter. In other words, Benzophenone-4 is employed to protect the integrity of products against the damaging effects of sunlight and also to guard the skin from harmful UV rays.

The functionality of Benzophenone-4 lies in its ability to absorb UV light and transform it into less harmful heat, a process known as photo-stability. This works to prevent the breakdown and oxidation of other ingredients in the product, maintaining their effectiveness and overall shelf-life.

While concentrations in cosmetic products may vary, the ingredient is typically found at less than 10%, often as part of a more extensive ingredient list. As a word of caution, Benzophenone-4 is not generally sold as a standalone product due to its strong potency and is best used as a part of a scientifically formulated skincare or cosmetic product.

Who Can Use Benzophenone-4?

One of the versatile features of Benzophenone-4 is its compatibility with a wide array of skin types. From oil-prone to dry, sensitive to resilient, this UV-absorber can be used by most individuals seeking sun protection and product longevity in their skincare and makeup routines.

For our ethically conscious readers, you will be pleased to learn that Benzophenone-4 is typically synthesized in a lab, meaning it’s suitable for vegans and vegetarians as it doesn’t involve any animal-derived ingredients.

When it comes to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider before continuing or initiating any new skincare regimen. While Benzophenone-4 is generally considered safe for use, everyone’s body responds differently. It’s therefore paramount to ensure safety and suitability for both the mother and child.

Benzophenone-4 Skin Benefits

Benzophenone-4 brings numerous benefits to skincare and cosmetics, thanks to its unique properties. Based on its official functions, let’s delve into these benefits:

  • Sun Protection: At its core, Benzophenone-4 is a UV absorber. This means it can soak up the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, shielding your skin from potential damage. The radiation from these rays can lead to premature aging, skin discoloration, and even severe conditions like skin cancer. By transforming the absorbed UV light into less harmful heat, Benzophenone-4 provides a protective barrier for your skin against the harshness of sunlight.
  • Prevention of Photoaging: Closely related to the sun protection aspect, Benzophenone-4 plays a significant role in preventing photoaging. Prolonged exposure to the sun often leads to the breakdown of collagen in the skin, causing wrinkles and fine lines. As Benzophenone-4 absorbs the UV rays, it helps to maintain the skin’s elasticity and firmness, delaying the onset of these signs of aging.

It’s vital to note, however, these beneficial effects are not permanent. Like any other skincare regimen, the use of products containing Benzophenone-4 must be sustained for ongoing benefits. Your skin is an ever-changing canvas, reacting constantly to environmental factors.

The Non-active Cosmetic Uses of Benzophenone-4

While the focus often rests on the active benefits of an ingredient, such as skin protection and health enhancement, it’s worth noting that many ingredients, like Benzophenone-4, offer additional non-active uses that contribute to the overall consumer experience of a cosmetic product. Here are some of the non-active uses of Benzophenone-4:

  • Longevity of Product: As a light stabilizer, Benzophenone-4 ensures the skincare or cosmetic product retains its integrity and efficacy. Exposure to sunlight can degrade the other active ingredients in a formulation, reducing their effectiveness. Benzophenone-4’s UV absorbing ability prevents this deterioration, thereby ensuring the product lasts longer on your shelves.

Benzophenone-4 Potential Side Effects

While Benzophenone-4 brings a host of benefits to the table, it’s important to underscore that side effects can vary from person to person. This is largely due to the fact that everyone’s skin is unique. It’s a complex organ that varies in type (you can find your skin type here), texture, sensitivity, and a host of other factors. These variations dictate how your skin may react to specific ingredients, including Benzophenone-4.

Specific side effects or interactions can include:

  • Skin Irritation: For some people, especially those with sensitive skin, Benzophenone-4 can cause redness, itching, or even a rash.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to Benzophenone-4, resulting in symptoms such as swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing.

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Benzophenone-4, it’s prudent to stop usage immediately and seek the advice of a healthcare professional or dermatologist. They can provide guidance on the best course of action based on your symptoms and the severity of the reaction.

It’s crucial to emphasize that these adverse reactions to Benzophenone-4 are rare. Generally speaking, this ingredient is safe and effective for use in skincare and cosmetic products. Its benefits far outweigh the potential side effects for most individuals.

Finally, it’s always a wise practice to perform a patch test before incorporating any new product into your skincare routine. This preemptive step can help you gauge your skin’s response to a new ingredient, further reducing the chances of an adverse reaction. For a comprehensive step-by-step guide to patch testing, you can refer to our patch testing guide.

Comedogenic Rating

The comedogenic rating for Benzophenone-4 would be 0-1. This rating is attributed to its low potential to clog pores and cause breakouts. Benzophenone-4’s prime function is as a UV absorber and light stabilizer, rather than a skin-conditioning agent or emollient that could potentially block pores.

This low rating signals that Benzophenone-4 is generally suitable for those prone to acne or breakouts. It’s unlikely to exacerbate these concerns, and its UV protective benefits can actually support overall skin health and reduce inflammation associated with sun damage.


The journey to achieving heavenly skin often involves a fair share of experimentation and trial-and-error. Ingredients like Benzophenone-4 offer multi-faceted benefits, both active and non-active, that can make them worthwhile additions to your skincare routine.

The active effects of Benzophenone-4, such as sun protection and prevention of photoaging, provide immediate advantages to skin health. Meanwhile, its non-active impacts, like preserving the color and texture of products, enhance the overall cosmetic experience. These dual benefits might sway savvy consumers to opt for products containing this ingredient over others.

Benzophenone-4 is not necessarily an avant-garde ingredient, but it’s certainly not pedestrian either. Its use is widespread in the cosmetic industry, but it often flies under the radar due to its non-glamorous, yet utterly functional, role in skincare formulations.

As for results, they can be somewhat immediate with the protective benefits of Benzophenone-4, but ongoing use will reap the most rewards. Regular application will help to consistently guard against UV damage, maintain skin health, and prolong the effectiveness of your skincare products.

Given the rarity of adverse reactions, the odds are in your favor when it comes to Benzophenone-4. However, it’s always wise to approach any new ingredient with a measure of due diligence and mindful observation of your skin’s responses. At the end of the day, your skin’s health and comfort are paramount, and Benzophenone-4 could just be another effective tool in your comprehensive skincare arsenal.

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