Sunscreen Chemicals Can Seep Into The Bloodstream

Sunscreen Chemicals Can Seep Into The Bloodstream

A study from a few years ago found that the body can absorb seven chemicals, commonly found in sunscreens, after a single application. Researchers noted that the presence of these chemicals in the bloodstream exceeded safety thresholds. While that is alarming in and of itself, another alarming point is that those chemicals weren’t fully tested for safety, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

If your skin absorbs an ingredient and it goes into the bloodstream, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research doesn’t deem that to be unsafe. Rather, it just calls for further industry testing to determine the safety and efficacy of an ingredient. Additionally, more studies are necessary to determine the systemic exposure to sunscreen ingredients, especially with chronic use in the summertime. That’s why people should not stop using sunscreen, but they should pay closer attention to the ingredient lists. 

What Do Findings Reveal About Sunscreen Chemicals?

The 2020 study tested whether or not six common sunscreen ingredients exceeded 0.5 nanogram per milliliter of blood. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends additional safety testing for products that enter the bloodstream in higher concentrations. Scientists conducted blood tests on 48 adults to look for those six common chemicals in commercial sunscreens. Those chemicals are detailed below:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Avobenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate

Those chemicals are found in chemical sunscreens, while the two active ingredients in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. On the first day of the study, participants were required to apply one of four different types of sunscreen: three sprays and one lotion. For the next three days, researchers asked the participants to reapply one of those four options every two hours. 

All six chemicals entered the bloodstream at levels that exceeded the FDA threshold for recommending additional safety testing after a single application. The concentration of those chemicals increased throughout the study. 

What Do Researchers Think? 

For years, researchers have known that certain chemicals in sunscreens can seep into the bloodstream. That study from 2020 indicated that chemicals from commercial sunscreens can soak into the blood after a single application. Additionally, they can remain in the body at levels above the FDA threshold for safety tests for more than two weeks. Those results matter because you should be aware of what you put on and in your body. That study, however, doesn’t suggest that all chemicals in sunscreens are harmful. 

Previous research, however, found that certain chemicals in sunscreens were linked to neurological and hormonal problems. The results from those human and animal studies were mixed. Plus, those studies tested exposures that were much higher than people would typically have from applying sunscreen in real life scenarios.  

Minerals Sunscreens May Be Great Alternatives

In 2019, the FDA proposed a rule asking sunscreen manufacturers to provide more safety information on active ingredients. The two active ingredients in mineral sunscreens don’t enter the bloodstream at concentrations that raise safety concerns. That means that consumers who want to avoid harmful chemicals should opt for zinc oxide-based formulations, according to dermatologists. Although mineral sunscreens are safe, they can leave a sticky or chalky residue behind after application. 

You should not stop using sunscreen because it is an important part of protection against UV rays. Ideally, apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and don’t apply sunscreen if you are wet (straight from the water) or sweaty. If you plan on going in the water, make sure to wait at least 15 minutes after sunscreen application for optimal protection.

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