Make up / Skincare

Sunscreen chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream, what’s going on and should you worry? Explanation and ingredients to avoid

Study finds that the chemicals in sunscreen enters the bloodstream. In the study by Dr. Murali K. Matta, he and his team found out that plasma concentration (measure of how much of a compound is present in one sample of a plasma), that it’s more than 0.5 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) – more than what the FDA approves as optimal toxic level for sunscreen ingredients.

Many news articles are popping up about new findings of sunscreen ingredients related to entering the bloodstream. Sunscreen is important all year round but especially around this time of the year it is an important product to put attention to!

So, what’s up with this topic and should you be worried to use sunscreen? Is it dangerous? Let’s look at it, and also look at some recommendations, how to choose a safe sunscreen, which ingredients you should avoid, how to apply sunscreen properly and personal opinions!

Sunscreen chemicals absorbed into bloodstream, what’s going on and should you worry?

What did researchers find out and what is going on?

In the introduction is it shortly explained that a study found out that there is more than the FDA approved levels of optimal toxics for sunscreen ingredients. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the active ingredients of sunscreens that are commonly used end up in the bloodstream at high levels. It’s at much higher levels than the current US guidelines. That is why further safety studies were recommended to be conducted.

The study was conducted by 23 volunteers testing four sunscreens, including creams, sprays and lotions applying it to 75% of their body four times a day. This was done for over four days. The results were found by doing blood test over seven days.

What did they find out, out of these blood tests? They found out that there were maximum plasma levels of the following chemicals: avobenzone, octocrylene, oxybenzone, and ecamsule. Ecamsule counts for one specific sunscreen among the sunscreens they used. The levels were more than 0.5 nanograms per milliliter, being more than the FDA approves following their guidelines.

Should you worry about using sunscreen?

Should you worry about using sunscreen?
Should you worry about using sunscreen?

Answer is simple: No. It is nowhere near suggestion to stop using sunscreen. You’re risking way more when you do not use sunscreen! You should just be more careful when choosing a sunscreen by looking at the ingredients, use it in a safe manner, and all in all just use safe kinds of sunscreen.

In addition, the amount that the volunteers applied is way more than what a typical person using sunscreen would use.

But so, where to start and how do I choose and use the right type of sunscreen that is safe and effective? That is what we will look at next! 😀

How to choose a safe sunscreen and which ingredients should you avoid?

Choosing a safe and effective sunscreen starts with looking at the ingredients and the type of sunscreen.

When looking at the ingredients, we recommend spotting ingredients that should not be there. So, ingredients you should avoid.

           Which ingredients in sunscreen should I avoid?

  • ! – Oxybenzone (Also found in the bloodstream test), (According the the EWG it is detected in nearly every American, it is a synthetic estrogen which penetrates the skin and according to the EWG is possible to disrupt the hormone system. It is also found in mother’s milk with 1% to 9% skin penetration. Furthermore, it is associated with altered birth weight in human studies. Has relatively high rates of skin allergy.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found this ingredients in more than 96% of the American population.
  • ! – Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or retinol), (EWG – From government data it is shown that tumors and lesions develop faster on skin coated with creams that contain Vitamin A. Though, it was found in 12% of the sunscreens that the EWG reviewed in 2018)
  • Octocrylene (It is found in mother’s milk and penetrates the skin (less than 1%)
  • Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate) (It is found in mother’s milk and penetrates the skin (less than 1%) Has moderate rates of skin allergy)
  • 4MBC (4-methylbenzylidene camphor) (EWG – It is not approved as an active ingredient in the US, but still listed as an inactive ingredient in some products. EU researchers concern over thyroid toxicity, hormone disruption, and recommend for this chemical to not be used in sunscreen. This ingredient also causes coral bleaching).
  • Butylparaben (EWG – Has endocrine disruption as a high concern and as moderate concerns that it changes the biochemical or cellular levels.)

With the ingredients above, if you see them in the ingredients list of the sunscreen, it is better suggested to avoid using the sunscreen.

The ingredients below are considered having lowest toxicity concerns according to the EWG and thus fall into the safe(r) zone:

  • Zinc Oxide (EWG – Provides excellent UVA protection and less than 0.01% skin penetration in human volunteers, no evidence of hormone disruption. Not recommended in powder or spray sunscreens due to these ingredients having inhalation concerns.)
  • Titanium Oxide (EWG – No findings of skin penetration and no evidence of hormone disruption, though there are inhalation concerns so try to avoid powder or spray sunscreens with this ingredient)

Check out this EWG page if you want to find health concerns of specific ingredients:

Damaged reef and about Titanium and Zinc Oxide (mineral ingredients)

The National Park Service mentions about sunscreen related to harming the reef, as humans deliver annually 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen to the reef by swimming in the sea. What the National Park Service mentioned is that no sunscreen proves to be completely safe for reef but sunscreen with Titanium oxide or Zinc oxide (both mineral ingredients), have found to not be harmful to corals. These two ingredients are also found in sunscreen for children and those with sensitive skin and they may contain these ingredients as active ingredients as they are gentler compounds.

Recommended safe kinds of sunscreens

Recommended safe kinds of sunscreens

Considering the ingredient listing above, there are some more recommendations to choose a safe kind of sunscreen. Avoid spray sunscreens and choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15+ ~ 50+. Mineral (physical) sunscreens (having mineral ingredients like the above-mentioned Titanium oxide and Zinc oxide) do avoid all chemicals if you may be concerned about chemicals. So, the mineral (physical) sunscreens, the one with the white cast is a safe kind. Obviously it doesn’t absorb into the skin as it leaves the white cast (how much white cast depends on the formula), but is up to you if you care or not care about walking around with that white cast yes or no haha :’D There are also sunscreens which are both chemical and physical filters (organic and inorganic UV filter methods). Inorganic sunscreens reflect UVA and UVB rays and organic sunscreens absorbs the UV rays before passing the sunscreen layer, therefore preventing to reach the skin. There is not really a difference in safety of the ingredients between the three kinds of sunscreen, it depends on the sunscreen product itself and their ingredient list (even though mineral based sunscreens are recommended). That is why it is important to just take into consideration the above information about which ingredients are best to avoid.

How to apply sunscreen safely?

It is suggested to wait 15-30 minutes before going out after applying sunscreen and if you put makeup on top of your sunscreen, it is best to wait 3-5 minutes. You should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

People might apply not enough because they think the SPF rate is high anyways. But if you don’t apply the right amount, it won’t provide the UVB protection that is required. People then are exposed to even more ultraviolet radiation than the people using a lower SPF. (This is also how people who use foundation with SPF might think it will protect and they don’t need sunscreen. The way you apply foundation would never be an enough amount to reach the real SPF coverage/protection that the package of the foundation mentions).

High SPF users most likely would believe that they could stay longer in the sun, especially if the high-SPF product will mention this. People in turn will stay outside longer. Low-SPF product users would stay outside a shorter time, while High-SPF product users would keep staying outside longer. You could see it already coming: They will still be exposed longer to a higher amount UVB radiation while the difference between the percentage of UVB protection isn’t even that much! High-SPF products are easily misused. According to the FDA, they want to prohibit labels higher than SPF50+, but has not put into work yet.

Read more about sunscreen and also the SKIN&LAB sunscreen in this blog post: “All about sunscreen – What you need to know: Facts & Tips, Reapplying, SPF and PA ratings”

Personal opinion based on findings, what will I do?

I personally know I will take a better look at the ingredients of the sunscreens and look if they have ingredients that are suggested to be avoided, espeeeeecially Oxybenzone and Vitamin A!

I would not stop using sunscreen or be worried to use it because of chemicals as the sun is the really danger.

And I know that the way they tested and applied sunscreen wouldn’t be that much of an amount I apply daily (even though the way of applying in the test seems like maximum protection), to have that much seep into my bloodstream. Additionally, it is not clear what the dangers of sunscreen seeping into the blood really is.

I will not use spray or powder sunscreens or anything that is possible to be inhaled and apply the way it was explained earlier or in this blog. My opinion as result of this news is that they should let the ingredients be tested and only be possible to be released on the market if organizations like the FDA would approve it (considering the allowed plasma concertation) as it is quite shocking it was higher than the guidelines. How awesome would it be to go to the store without needing to worry about the ingredients, knowing they are in the safe zone?

But to come to my main conclusion, which is simple 😊 I will keep protecting myself from the sun and not worry about chemicals seeping into my bloodstream if I avoid sunscreens with ingredients that should be avoided. Last but not least, I suggest to keep up with the news about it from time to time and any further researches they conduct to be up to date!


Information in this blog post are based on the researches that appeared in the news about sunscreen seeping into the bloodstream and information from various sources, which are all mentioned in the content! My personal opinion is based on findings and my actions towards this news is my own point of view and decision choice. This could differ per person and their own life and health conditions; in the end you know what is the best for you!! We are here to keep you up to date, give information, any tips, and our own input considering the topic to give a broader spectrum and room of thought on the topic. ❤️ Especially on the topic of sun protection as we want people to put lots of thoughts, attention and time towards it as the sun is so damaging to the skin and you should protect yourself well!

If you have any questions leave a comment or send a DM to SKIN&LAB Global Instagram! @skinnlab_global

Thank you for being here today!! Remember to enjoy the good weather safely and enjoy the beautiful sun, take care and have an amazing day sunshines! ❤️ 🌞

Hi We are global marketing team of lablog. We try our best that give honest and useful information that you can believe and share with your people. Please, join our blog and hope we can help you a little bit for your beauty life. Thank you.

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