The banned sunscreen ingredients and their impact on human health: a systematic review

Int J Dermatol. 2020 Sep;59(9):1033-1042. doi: 10.1111/ijd.14824. Epub 2020 Feb 28.


Recent evidence of high systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients has raised concerns regarding the safety of sunscreen products. Oxybenzone (BP-3) and octinoxate (OMC), two common sunscreen ingredients, were recently banned in Key West and Hawaii owing to their toxic effects on marine ecosystems. Their impact on human health requires a careful assessment. To summarize the current evidence on the association between the systemic level of BP-3 or OMC and its health impact, a primary literature search was conducted using PubMed database in February 2019. There are 29 studies that address the impact of these ingredients on human health. Studies show that elevated systemic level of BP-3 has no adverse effect on male and female fertility, female reproductive hormone level, adiposity, fetal growth, child's neurodevelopment, and sexual maturation. However, the association of BP-3 level on thyroid hormone, testosterone level, kidney function, and pubertal timing has been reported and prompts further investigations to validate a true association. The systemic absorption of OMC has no reported effect on thyroid and reproductive hormone levels. In conclusion, current evidence is not sufficient to support the causal relationship between the elevated systemic level of BP-3 or OMC and adverse health outcomes. There are either contradictory findings among different studies or an insufficient number of studies to corroborate the observed association. To accurately evaluate the long-term risk of exposure to BP-3 and OMC from sunscreen, a well-designed longitudinal randomized controlled trial needs to be conducted.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Ecosystem*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sunscreening Agents* / adverse effects


  • Sunscreening Agents