Octisalate is a chemical sunscreen manufactured by combining an ester of salicylic acid with 2-Ethylhexanol. Octisalate can also be referred to as octyl salicylate or 2-ethylhexyl salicylate.
When applied topically to the skin, octisalate absorbs UVB rays produced by the sun. UVB rays from the sun span the 280 to 315 nanometer range. Octisalate absorbs UVB rays in the 295 to 315 nanometer range, reaching optimal performance at 307 to 310 nanometers. Although octisalate absorbs almost the full range of UVB rays, it is regarded as quite a weak UVB absorber. Octisalate provides no protection at all from UVA rays. As a result, octisalate rarely used alone as sun protection.
UVB rays are potentially beneficial to human beings as they trigger the production of vitamin D by the body. Lack of vitamin D can cause rickets. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to the development of multiple sclerosis in people who live in countries in the northern hemisphere that have low levels of sunlight for much of the year. However, excessive exposure to sunlight, including UVB rays, can lead to the development of sunburn and, over time, can contribute to premature aging.
UVB rays primarily affect the outer layers of the skin, making them the key contributors to sunburn. When skin exhibits the redness, warmth, and pain typically associated with sunburn it signifies that DNA damage has taken place. While the redness and pain passes quickly, the DNA damage can cause longer-term problems including changes in the skin cells that can lead to the development of skin cancer.
Research by the Skin Cancer Foundation has revealed that up to 90% of the changes in the skin that are normally attributed to the aging process are, in fact, caused by exposure to the sun. These changes include thinning of the skin and reduction of collagen levels, leading to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Age spots are hyperpigmented areas of the skin, like large freckles, that develop after years of sun exposure. Even on overcast days, it is nearly impossible to avoid exposing skin to the sun, particularly facial skin. For that reason, it is important that individuals who wish to retain a youthful complexion apply a sunscreen on a daily basis.
In addition to causing premature aging, UV rays are one of the primary causes of skin cancer. There are three common types of skin cancer: melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. All three types of skin are related to sun exposure. Using a high factor sunscreen on a daily basis can reduce an individual's chances of developing skin cancer.
Accordingly, topical application of sun protection products containing octisalate can help to protect against premature aging and skin cancer. Octisalate acts by absorbing UVB rays and preventing them from reaching the skin.
Octisalate is found listed as an ingredient in a number of different skin care products. Along with high factor sunscreens developed specifically for protection from the sun's UV rays, octisalate is often found in anti-aging facial skin care products designed to be used during the day, such as moisturizing creams and lotions, eye creams, and lip protection products. By incorporating octisalate in to hydrating creams and lotions, manufacturers enable their products to do double duty. This helps consumers to save time and money by reducing the number of products in their daily beauty regimen.
One of the components in octisalate, ethylhexanol, is a fatty alcohol. This component provides octisalate with water-repellent properties, similar to oily substances. This makes octisalate a useful ingredient for manufacturers who want to add a water resistant element to their sunscreen products. Waterproof sunscreens tend to be longer-lasting because they do not wash off when the face or body produces sweat in response to the heat of the sun. Waterproof sunscreens are also more likely to provide protection during sporting activities, such as swimming.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared octisalate to be safe up to concentrations of 5%.
Octisalate is well tolerated by most individuals and is safe enough to be used in sunscreens that are designed to protect the delicate skin of children. It can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals with sensitive skin, but this is extremely rare.