Education, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Homosalate: the Sunscreen hero ingredient you need to know

Spoiler alter: it’s in most sunscreens.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jun 5, 2021

There has been an increasing awareness and conversation around skincare products, more specifically the questionable ingredients and chemicals found in them. In efforts to bring you transparent, well-researched information for your skin education dreams, we’d like to introduce you to homosalate — the sunscreen ingredient that you’ve probably never heard of.


But if you’re a sunscreen user, and really we all should be, there’s a good chance you’ve been using homosalate all along without knowing. For background, there are two types of sunscreens: physical formulas (made with minerals like zinc and titanium that sit on top of skin to reflect UV rays) and chemical sunscreens (penetrate skin and absorb rays before they cause damage).


What is homosalate?

In short, homosalate is the main ingredients in chemical sunscreens. Scientifically, it’s an organic salicylate compound that helps to absorb UV light by converting it to heat so that the sun damage won’t hinder the skin cells. Although there are many ingredients in chemical sunscreens, homosalate is one of the most common — found in nearly half of commercial sunscreens on the market.


What are the benefits of homosalate?

The main benefits of homosalate is the absorption of the UV rays that are known to cause skin cancer. Because it has little efficacy against UVA rays, it must be combined with other chemicals or agents to ensure complete protection. A rather unsurprising translation: sunscreens can’t only be made of homosalate to be effective. When chemists and brands combine agents that work against UVA rays with chemicals that work with UVB rays, the result will be a larger percentage of protection.


What are the side effects of homosalate?

With most skincare products, and depending on what factors are important to you, there are a few small side effects to homosalate. The biggest being skin irritations or allergies to the chemical. Hint: if you have sensitive skin, it might be good to avoid homosalate or to test patch it first.


And lastly, the FDA is currently investigating all the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens, including homosalate. This is not to scare you, but studies are being done to determine the absorption levels and how deeply they penetrate. It’s important to note that there are no studies in humans that have show negative effects to the absorption, aka we’re still in the clear to use.


When do you use homosalate?

Here at ULTRA we like to promote researching products before trying them while still providing you with all the information. With that being said, we can appreciate the hesitation in implementing new information. What we will say though, homosalate has been proven to prevent DNA damage and skin cancer, with no known negative side effects on humans. And to be honest, the more immediate threat is UV rays and their ability to cause skin cancer, not the ingredients in sunscreen.


What are the best sunscreens with homosalate?

Eucerin Daily Hydration Hand Cream with SPF 30 – Broad Spectrum Lotion for Dry Hands ($7.49)

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30 ($19.99)

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Sunscreen Lotion ($10.99)


And before you head out to the beach this summer, learn how to read your sunscreen bottle.


Photo via iStock Photo