Oxybenzone – the contradiction

Photo by Henriette Welz on Unsplash

What are you to think when you see the term: “Oxybenzone” or “Oxybenzone -3”? For many, it is just an ingredient which sounds complex, because of its description, and therefore damaging to people or nature. You won’t be completely wrong in your assumption. As lip-care experts, we want to ensure that Blistex products provide great quality and benefit to the user’s of our products. We conducted an investigation into this particular ingredient in order to you enlighten you.

Oxybenzone is also known as Oxybenzone-3 or Benzophenone-3. If you inspect the ingredients list of your favourite lip-balm, and discover an ingredient with a similar description but slightly different spelling to Oxybenzone, it will probably be a version of Oxybenzone. Also, in recent packaging updates Oxybenzone is being highlighted, independently, to alert the user to this ingredient.

Oxybenzone, generally, presents no issues for human beings. It is a naturally occurring chemical compound in various flowering plants. In modern times it has been used in hairsprays, make-up products and importantly, provides the sun protective ingredient in lip-balms. The Oxybenzone ingredient helps eliminate the negative affect of the sun’s UVA and UVB, on the human skin. In products which are used on the beach, in sports and day-to-day it is an effective protection ingredient.

But here lies the contradiction, while Oxybenzone is great for sun- protection in people, it has been identified as a destroyer of corals. Even a very small amount of Oxybenzone has a dramatically negative effect on the ability of the coral to defend itself. It is responsible for the phenomenon called Coral-bleaching, where corals lose their unique and rich colours. Oxybenzone causes the corals to become white and light in appearance. If a small amount of Oxybenzone impacts corals negatively, imagine the overall effect of up to 6000 tons of Oxybenzone that are off-loaded in the sea, in places like Hawaii, through tourist and holiday-maker swimming, surfing and vacation fun. It is quickly apparent that Oxybenzone will impact the ocean and corals within the ocean.

So when you next browse through the ingredients list of your favourite Blistex product, and you come across Oxybenzone, please know this ingredient is there to protect you. When you are heading into the sea, look out for one of our products which doesn’t contain Oxybenzone, and use that while swimming.

We will continue to produce Blistex products responsibly and revise ingredient lists to include only the best products for you and the environment. At the same time, use your discretion at different times, and apply the appropriate lip-balm in each situation.