New study says ingredients found in popular sunscreens enter your bloodstream

Participants were to apply the sunscreen four times daily for four days using products that contained common ingredients used in different sunscreens: avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, and octocrylene.

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Sunscreens aren’t just protecting your skin — they’re also being absorbed into your body, a new study finds.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that several active ingredients used in popular sunscreen lotions entered a person’s bloodstream within one day of use.


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The findings

FDA researchers had 24 participants randomly apply one of four sunscreen treatments between two types of sprays and a lotion or a cream to 75% of their body, around the same amount of skin that would normally be covered when wearing a bathing suit.

Participants were to apply the sunscreen four times daily for four days using products that contained common ingredients used in different sunscreens: avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, and octocrylene.

Blood samples were taken from each participant over seven days. Results from the pilot test showed all four ingredients entered the bloodstream which exceeded the FDA’s Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC).

“The systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings,” write the study’s authors.

The FDA encouraged the uses of sunscreens recommending an SPF-level of at least 15 to help prevent skin cancer.

“The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean the ingredient is unsafe. Rather, this finding calls for further testing to determine the safety of that ingredient for repeated use,” the FDA said.

In Consumer Reports’ annual sunscreens report, all products featured in their top 10 contained oxybenzone, according to WebMD.

Earlier this year, the FDA proposed a new rule to update requirements for most sunscreen products. The aim was to make products more up-to-date with scientific standards.

American Academy of Dermatology president George J. Jruza stressed for continued use of sunscreen.

“These sunscreen ingredients have been used for several decades without any reported internal side effects in humans,” Hruza said in a statement. “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and dermatologists see the impact it has on patients’ lives every day. Unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a major risk factor for skin cancer.”


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Kyle Schnitzer|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at kschnitzer@theladders.com.