What is ethylhexyl methoxycinnmate and what does it do in sunscreen?

Ingredient Spotlight | Sunscreens: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate

Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate… what? Tinosorb? Avobenzone or octycrylene? We’re always told to look at the ingredients lists in our cosmetics, but what do all those long names mean and what’s the difference between all of them?

This series begins with ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, the most common sunscreen ingredient in Australia.

What does ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate mean on the label?

In short, if you see ‘ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate’ on a product with an SPF rating, you know that you’ve got a chemical sunscreen that protects against UVB rays.

UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and play a role in the development of skin cancers, including malignant melanoma.

Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is also known as octinoxate or octyl methoxycinnamate.

This tried-and-tested sunscreen ingredient also protects against some UVA rays, but not the entire UVA spectrum. A well-formulated, broad spectrum sunscreen will also contain sunscreen ingredients that filter or block UVA rays for extra protection.

What is a chemical sunscreen?

‘Chemical sunscreen’ is the broad label generally used by the public to differentiate between sunscreen filters that are made with minerals (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) and those that aren’t.

In practice, the main difference between chemical sunscreen ingredients and mineral filters is the formula. The lightweight nature of chemical sunscreen ingredients like ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate means that chemists can make lightweight, cosmetically comfortable sunscreens that blend into your skin more easily than the heavy zinc-based sunscreens from the past.

All sunscreens in Australia are tested in the same way for their SPF rating whether or not they use chemical or mineral filters. That’s why all our Fountain Cosmetics sunscreen products manage to be both comfortable and approved by the TGA.