Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)

Safety Information


FDA reviewed the safety of octinoxate and approved its use as an active ingredient in OTC sunscreen products. Sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as non-prescription, OTC drugs. 

In February 2019, the FDA published a proposed rule requesting additional data on certain currently used sunscreen ingredients, including octinoxate. These filters are approved around the globe and have been used in various formulations in the U.S. for decades. Importantly, the FDA emphasized in a Sept. 27, 2021, announcement that sunscreens made with these ingredients are not considered unsafe and will remain on the market to be used as part of consumers’ sun-safe practices while more data are collected. 

According to the FDA: “Sun safety is important for everyone and all skin tones, and consumers can reduce risks from sun exposure with continued use of sun protection measures, including sunscreen.”

The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) and its member companies that manufacture sunscreen products have been working closely with the FDA to collect additional data that will address FDA’s request.

Expert Panel for Cosmetic Ingredient Safety

The Expert Panel for Cosmetic Ingredient Safety (Expert Panel) has deferred evaluation of this ingredient because the safety has been assessed by the FDA. This deferral follows the Expert Panel’s procedures.

Octinoxate is listed as 2-Ethylhexyl 4-methoxycinnamatein Annex VI, entry 12 and may be used as a UV filter in sunscreen products at a maximum concentration of 10% according to the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is approved as a safe and effective sunscreen ingredient in Canada, Australia and Japan.


American Academy of Dermatology, Skin Cancer Foundation, and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)

What Is It?

Octinoxate, also known as ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, is used as an active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreens to protect skin against the damaging effects from ultraviolet (UV) light. When used as a sunscreen ingredient, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate to be listed as octinoxate on the product label.

Why Is It Used?

When used as a sunscreen agent, octinoxate protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. Exposing unprotected skin to UV light can result in sunburn (primarily from UVB rays) and accelerate premature skin aging, as well as skin cancer (primarily from UVA rays).

Octinoxate is also approved as a sunscreen active ingredient in Canada, Australia, Japan and the European Union.

Scientific Facts

Prolonged exposure to UV light may result in damaging health effects on the skin, eyes and immune system. By absorbing UV radiation, octinoxate can help protect against sunburn, skin aging and skin cancer caused by UV light.

Octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) is the ester of 2-ethylhexyl alcohol and methoxycinnamic acid. Octinoxate is used in cosmetics and personal care products as a sunscreen agent to protect the skin and as an UV light absorber to protect other types of cosmetics and personal care products.