Dibenzalacetone is a highly potent chemical that absorbs UV rays, making it the ideal ingredient for sunscreens. In fact, dibenzalacetone is a leading ingredient in most commercial sun protection products, known for its highly stable and predictable properties. The chemical is also used because its stability allows it to be paired with other compounds commonly found in sunscreen, making SPF levels easy to adjust.
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, the chemical structure of dibenzalacetone makes it highly stable, ideal for use in a compound like sunscreen. The chemical is also potentially toxic and known to be an irritant to eyes, skin and the human respiratory tract. Although originally a yellow powdery substance, dibenzalacetone is used in conjunction with several other compounds to create a stable, non-toxic sunscreen.
Sunscreens utilize dibenzalacetone due to the fact that it absorbs UV rays, preventing them from absorbing into the skin itself. Other chemicals within sunscreen include those that actually reflect UV rays, pairing up with absorbers like dibenzalacetone to prevent as much skin absorption as possible. Although some concerns have been raised about the potentially toxic nature of the chemical, the benefits of UV protection have led to its continued use in sun protection products.