EWG Risk Score:
What is it:
Benzyl benzoate is a synthetic chemical used as a fragrance ingredient, artificial flavor, preservative, and solvent. It is also considered an over the counter drug and can be used as a scabies or lice treatment. It is an ester of benzyl alcohol and benzoic acid.
What are it's risks:
- Benzyl benzoate has been found to posess weakly estrogenic properties and have weak stimulating action upon the growth of breast cancer cells in one study. However, this study found benzyl benzoate not to display this activity at the concentration tested.
- Listed as a suspected allergen by the EU Cosmetics Directive. (Source)
- From Drugs.com, the side effects of medical-strength benzyl benzoate are:
- Blister formation, crusting, itching, oozing, reddening, or scaling of skin
- difficulty in urinating (dribbling)
- jerking movements
- sudden loss of consciousness
- burning or itching of skin
These side effects are usually only seen at high doses and concentrations, however, damaged skin or impaired immune function may make certain individuals more suseptible to reactions.
Brands that use benzyl benzoate include: Jason, The Body Shop, Origins, Weleda, Dermalogica & Zia.
I would classify the estrogen-mimicking properties of benzyl benzoate as potential, but not confirmed. As a person who seeks to avoid xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body) I, as a precautionary measure, avoid benzyl benzoate as well.