Octocrylene: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: June 5, 2023
Table of Contents

Picture this: You’re standing in a beauty aisle, scanning the back of a promising SPF-infused cosmetic product, trying to decipher the seemingly alien language that is the ingredients list. All you can make out is a jumble of unpronounceable words that may as well have been written in Sanskrit. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, attempting to make sense of what we’re actually applying onto our faces.

One such enigmatic ingredient that you might have stumbled upon is Octocrylene. Just reading the name might evoke an image of a mysterious, futuristic substance. But fret not, for this article is here to shed some light on this perplexing component. Join us as we embark on a deep dive into the world of Octocrylene, revealing its purpose, benefits, uses, and potential side effects in the realm of skincare and cosmetics.

What is Octocrylene?

In the world of cosmetics, Octocrylene is an organic compound often used as a UV filter and light stabilizer. Also known as 2-Cyano-3,3-diphenyl acrylic acid 2-ethylhexyl ester, Octocrylene absorbs and reduces the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that penetrates the skin when exposed to sunlight. Its primary function in cosmetic products is to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can lead to sunburns, premature skin aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. The ingredient is commonly found in sunscreens, daily moisturizers, and other skincare products with SPF.

Octocrylene is usually included as part of a wider formulation of ingredients and is often combined with other UV filters to provide broad-spectrum sun protection. Its concentration in cosmetic products can vary, but it is regulated to ensure safe and effective use. While it’s not typically sold as a stand-alone ingredient, Octocrylene plays a crucial role in offering comprehensive sun protection.

Who Can Use Octocrylene?

Octocrylene is a versatile ingredient that is suitable for most skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. Its inclusion in sun protection products is beneficial for those seeking an effective defense against harmful UV radiation. However, it’s always essential to consider other ingredients within the product to ensure compatibility with your unique skin type.

When it comes to vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, Octocrylene itself is a synthetic compound, which means it doesn’t come from animal sources. Nonetheless, it’s important to pay close attention to other ingredients and the manufacturing process to determine if a particular product containing Octocrylene is completely vegan or vegetarian-friendly.

For pregnant or breastfeeding women, Octocrylene is generally considered safe to use. There’s currently no evidence suggesting any harmful effects on pregnant women or their babies. However, as a precaution, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your skincare routine during pregnancy or while nursing.

Octocrylene Skin Benefits

  • UV Protection: Octocrylene effectively absorbs both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, leading to premature aging, while UVB rays mainly cause sunburns on the surface. By absorbing these harmful rays, Octocrylene significantly reduces the risk of skin damage, sunburn, and long-term effects like premature aging and skin cancer.
  • Enhanced Sunscreen Stability: As a light stabilizer, Octocrylene helps to prolong the efficacy of other UV filters in a formulation. It enhances the overall performance of sun protection products, ensuring you get consistent and lasting protection from the sun when applied as directed.
  • Broad-Spectrum Protection: When used in combination with other UV filters, Octocrylene contributes to broad-spectrum sun protection. This means the product provides a defense against a wide range of UV radiation, as opposed to just one type of ray. Broad-spectrum protection is important for comprehensive shielding from the detrimental effects of sun exposure on the skin.

Octocrylene’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

  • Preservative Support: As a light stabilizer, Octocrylene can help extend the shelf life of cosmetic products. By protecting the formulation from the deteriorating effects of light, this ingredient ensures that the product maintains its quality, effectiveness, and safety for a longer time period.

Octocrylene Potential Side Effects

It’s important to remember that side effects and reactions to cosmetic ingredients, including Octocrylene, can vary from person to person. Our individual skin types, sensitivities, and overall health can play a significant role in determining how our skin reacts to specific ingredients. To better understand your skin’s needs, you might want to find your skin type and tailor your skincare routine accordingly.

Some potential side effects of Octocrylene include:

  • Allergic reactions: In rare cases, individuals may experience an allergic reaction to Octocrylene, resulting in symptoms such as redness, itching, swelling, or rash.
  • Skin irritation: People with sensitive skin or existing skin conditions may experience irritation or exacerbation of their symptoms.

If you experience any of these side effects while using Octocrylene or a product containing it, it’s essential to discontinue use and consult a dermatologist or healthcare provider for appropriate advice and treatment. They can assess your situation and recommend alternative skincare options if needed.

It’s worth noting that adverse reactions to Octocrylene are relatively rare. Generally speaking, this ingredient is considered to be safe and effective when used as directed, providing valuable protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation.

To minimize the risk of adverse reactions, it’s always recommended to perform a patch test before using a new cosmetic product. Follow this patch testing guide to ensure you can safely incorporate a product containing Octocrylene into your skincare routine without any unexpected surprises.

Comedogenic Rating

Octocrylene has a comedogenic rating of 1, indicating it has a very low likelihood of clogging pores. This low rating is primarily because Octocrylene is an organic compound designed to absorb UV rays and stabilize the formula, rather than interacting with sebum production or skin cells that contribute to acne formation.

Given its low comedogenic rating, Octocrylene is considered suitable for individuals who are prone to acne or breakouts. Its inclusion in sun protection products can provide effective UV defense without exacerbating acne concerns.


Embarking on a successful skincare journey requires experimentation and a bit of trial and error. The versatility of Octocrylene, with its active UV protection benefits and non-active properties like texture enhancement and formula-stabilizing effects, makes it an ingredient worth considering as part of your skincare routine.

When deciding whether to opt for products containing Octocrylene over others, its ability to provide broad-spectrum sun protection and enhance the overall performance of a formula may be a decisive factor—especially for those seeking reliable UV defense.

Despite its useful functions and properties, Octocrylene may not always be the center of attention in the skincare realm. However, its presence in sun protection products has been steadily popular for good reason: it offers protection that is both effective and generally safe for most skin types.

Summing everything up, Octocrylene’s contribution to skincare products, particularly those with SPF, lies in its ability to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays and ensure formula consistency and stability. As a generally well-tolerated ingredient, it’s potentially a valuable addition to your skincare routine, helping you shield your skin from damage and maintain a healthy, radiant complexion.

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