There has long been a concern that chemicals used in chemical sunscreens seep into our bloodstream.

A study in 2019 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirmed this fact. According to the FDA, if a sunscreen chemical exceeds a blood concentration of 0.5ng/mL, this indicates potential concerns with that ingredient. Therefore, it should undergo further “nonclinical toxicology assessment including systemic carcinogenicity and additional developmental and reproductive studies.”

The FDA study included 24 healthy participants with an average age of 35 years. They were divided into four subgroups with each group trying a specific form of chemical sunscreen: two sprays, one lotion, and one cream. Researchers applied sunscreen on the participants four times a day for four days and collected 30 blood samples over a seven-day period. The rationale behind the number of applications was to mimic the recommendation that sunscreen be reapplied every 2 hours.

The results were concerning. Blood concentrations greater than 0.5ng/mL (in some cases more than 400 times more) were found for all chemical sunscreen ingredients that were tested, including avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene. And this was just after the first day of application.

The study concluded that further research is needed to evaluate the clinical significance of these findings. While we wait for these studies to be completed, the question has to be asked: If we need to protect ourself from the sun to prevent skin cancer, is there a safe alternative to chemical sunscreens to protect ourselves against harmful UVA and UVB rays?

Fortunately, there is. Mineral sunscreens’ only active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – both of which are generally recognized by the FDA to be safe and effective (GRASE).

Let’s review some of the problems/dangers associated with the chemicals most commonly used in sunscreens (octinoxate, avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and octocrylene):

  1. The chemicals found in chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the body and can be found in blood, breast milk and urine;
  2. Octinoxate and oxybenzone are both endocrine disruptors which mean they have a negative effect on our hormones; 3
  3. Oxybenzone, octocrylene, avobenzone and PABA are known allergens causing allergic skin rashes;
  4. Octinoxate and oxybenzone are known to contaminate the environment, having been found to contribute to bleaching of coral reefs when washed off in the ocean;
  5. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into heat. In the course of this process, the chemicals themselves break down, reducing the effectiveness of their filtering action. Furthermore, this change in chemical composition releases free radicals;
  6. On the other hand, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are naturally occurring minerals that sit on top of the skin (are not absorbed) and work by reflecting, scattering and absorbing UV rays. They act as physical (as opposed to chemical) barriers;
  7. Mineral sunscreens are unique in providing broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. The chemicals found in chemical sunscreens offer protection against either UVA or UVB rays – not both.
  8. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends that those with sensitive skin should choose mineral sunscreens to avoid skin irritation.

Tropicalaser is a proud retailer of the complete range of Alumier MD medical grade mineral sunscreens.


The information contained in this blog was drawn from the Alumier MD website

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