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J Invest Dermatol. 1996 Mar;106(3):583-6.

Oxybenzone oxidation following solar irradiation of skin: photoprotection versus antioxidant inactivation.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Hamburg, Germany.


We used noninvasive Fourier transform (FT) Raman spectroscopy to follow the fate of the broadly used ultraviolet UVA sun blocker, oxybenzone, after topical application to the skin. Our results showed that oxybenzone is rapidly photo-oxidized, yielding oxybenzone semiquinone, a potent electrophile, which reacts with thiol groups on important anti-oxidant enzymes and substrates, such as thioredoxin reductase and reduced glutathione, respectively. Although oxybenzone is an excellent broad spectrum UVA filter, its rapid oxidation followed by the inactivation of important antioxidant systems indicates that this substance may be rather harmful to the homeostasis of the epidermis. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that FT-Raman spectroscopy is a useful method for studying the transport and metabolism of active ingredients in topical preparations.

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