Butyloctyl salicylate is a new ingredient of emerging concern that may be hiding in your ‘reef safe’ sunscreen

With consumers demanding ever-increasing SPF values, many companies today are using SPF ‘boosters’ in their formulas to increase that number. Butyloctyl salicylate is a relatively new inactive ingredient in sunscreens that may boost the SPF factor by not allowing the skin to redden.  Because SPF factors are determined by HOW red your skin gets after exposure, reducing redness allows for a higher SPF factor WITHOUT a true increase in UV protection.

If you’re like most people and just check your sunscreen for the active ingredients, you need to reconsider that decision. If it’s there, butyloctyl salicylate will be listed under inactive ingredients, probably toward the beginning if alphabetical or the end if not of what is often a long and complicated list of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, and it’s far more common than you would expect.

There are obvious ethical issues associated with this practice, and we would even debate if this should be legal, especially when used in formulas for children and babies. Other ‘redness reducers’ in a formulator’s toolbox include the natural ingredients bisabalol and allantoin.

What really makes me angry and doesn’t feel ethical at all is when ‘natural’ companies offering ‘mineral’ sunscreens include butyloctyl salicylate in their formulas.  To make it even worse, butyloctyl saliciylate (I’ll appropriately call it BS for simplicity) is also a concern for pregnant women as it may lead to birth defects.  BS has a similar chemical structure to salicylic acid and aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) which warns against use when pregnant. Sunscreens using this ingredient do not carry that warning, and in our opinion, would NOT be pregnancy safe.  Knowing that everything we put on our bodies has the potential to be absorbed into our skin, not labeling it as a concern seems very wrong! (The Australian government recommends it not be used during late pregnancy or for children under 4 by the way, so hopefully, US regulators are paying attention.)

Butyloctyl salicylate is also not reef safe, as its categorized as ‘Aquatic Chronic 4’ – May cause long-lasting harmful effects to aquatic life.’  You can read the pub med report here.

I asked two brand owners why they had BS in their formulas.  They didn’t seem to have any answer for me, most likely because they’re not chemists, didn’t formulate their own products, and trusted the large contract lab to formulate something safe for them.  That is not us.  We consciously choose every ingredient in our formulas for efficacy AND safety.

The only way to truly know what is safe and what a product contains is to know your ingredients and question everything.  We do that for you, by intimately controlling what is included in our formulas and preventing harmful ingredients from entering our facility.  I’m not saying we are perfect, but we are doing our best to make sure we offer you, your families, and our blue planet the safest, most effective products we can.  And as we learn more, we do better. We did the science and research for you.  You are welcome 🙂

Loading...

Welcome to

My Rewards

Become a member

Join our loyalty program to unlock exclusive perks and rewards.

Ways to earn

Powered by WPLoyalty

Ways to earn

Every dollar spent = 10 points

Every dollar spent = 10 points

Refer a Friend to Get 250 Points

Refer a Friend to Give 250 Points and Get 250 Points ... Less

Get 250 Points for Signing Up

Get 250 Points for Signing Up

Coral Member Birthday Gift

Coral members get 1000 points on their birthd ay. ... Less

Get 50 Points Per Review

Get 50 Points Per Review

Facebook Share

Share Stream2Sea on Facebook to get 50 Points

Share on Twitter to get 50 Points

Share on Twitter to get 50 Points

Starfish Birthday

Starfish members get 1500 points on their bir thday. ... Less