Ingredient Watch: Benzophenone

More and more people are becoming aware of the ingredients within the products they use, but with so many long and intimidating names in the ingredient list, it can be hard to know what’s good and what’s bad. We’ve started Ingredient Watch to help put these scary words into plain terms – what it is, what names it goes by, where it can be found and what risk it might pose.

We put formaldehyde under the microscope previously and today we’re looking at a super common ingredient – Benzophenone.

Where it’s found:

Benzophenone is found in a number of personal care products, such as sunscreen, hairspray, hair dye, bath and skincare products, nail polish and cosmetics.

What does benzophenone do? 

Benzophenone is primarily added to products to minimise ultra-violet light damage to scents and colours. It can also be added to plastics which manufacturers use in their packaging, allowing them to use clear glass and plastic instead of using dark packaging to product the product inside.

It is also used as an additive as a fragrance and food enhancer.

Avoid it because:

While tests have not been carried out on humans, only animals, benzophenone is a suspected carcinogen. It has also been found to pose risks of endocrine disruption, reproductive and organ toxicity. It can also be responsible for physical irritations.

What to look for:

Check the ingredient list on the label for benzophenone and its variants. This can often be listed as ‘BP#’ (eg. BP2, BP9). It can also be mentioned as oxybenzone, sulisobenzone sodium.

Variants of benzophenone which are common within personal care products include benzophenone-6 (nail polish), benzophenone-4 (cosmetics, hairspray and hair dye), and benzophenone-9 (bath and skincare products).

How to avoid it:

The most proactive way to avoid benzophenone is to look for it, and the names that it hides behind, on the ingredient list of your product label. If your product is coloured or has some kind of fragrance, there is a strong likelihood it has benzophenone added.

Benzophenone is a common ingredient in sunscreens. You will often find it under the name oxybenzone and it acts as a chemical sunblock. An alternative to this would be a mineral based sunscreen which will include zinc or titanium within the ingredient list. You can read our post about chemical and physical sunblocks to find out more on this.


Benzophenone is present in many areas around your house including your food. Due to more and more manufacturers including the ingredient in their packaging, it actually has the ability to transfer from the contained into the food product held within.

Main Image Credit: CosmEthics

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