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How worried should I be that sunscreen is absorbed into my blood?

Welcome to Ask a Beauty Editor of our new column, in which Sarah Jacoby the senior health and beauty editor of SELF, is looking for scientifically sound answers to all your questions Questions about skin care. You can ask Sarah a question at askabeautyeditor@self.com.

Confession: I was not always good at using sunscreen, but when I was in my late twenties, I finally took it much more seriously. Now I always wear when I'm in the sun, and wear SPF on my face every day. At last, I feel like a good, responsible sunscreen user … and then I read that report that sunscreen seeps into our blood ?! WTF?

So, wait, is sunscreen not the holiest thing I should diligently foam up on? And do all sunscreens seep into our bodies or just certain types? (I use an old sunscreen for my body, but I stick to mineral sunscreen with just zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on my face because my face is very sensitive and burns like hell when I carry the other stuff on it.)

How panicky Will we be on a scale of 1 to 10 when sunscreen is absorbed into our body?

Applying or Not Applicating

Let me just say that you are absolutely not the only person who wonders. My friends, family, and even my therapist have asked me in the last few weeks, after absorbing sunscreen whether this healthy habit could actually lead to anything else.

"I have many questions about Mary L. Stevenson, a lecturer in the Department of Dermatology of Ronald O. Perelman at NYU Langone Health, SELF says. In the era of clean beauty informed consumers are already paying more attention to what they apply to their skin before they resort to sunscreen she tells her eye.

So, why are we all suddenly worried about it? Well, it might have something to do with the many many many headlines talking about how your blood is actually full of sunscreen, and with some profoundly suspicious ones Side eyes, how sure are all these sunscreens anyway?

I'll go into the science behind these stories right away, but most importantly, this study does not show that the inclusion of sunscreen in your bloodstream is dangerous – just that this happens. So continue to wear sunscreen because we know what happens if you do not. These headlines come from a study published in JAMA a few months ago]. For the study, FDA researchers had 24 people, each testing one in four sunscreens, including two sprays and two lotions. Participants wore 75 percent of their body with sunscreen four times a day for four days. Researchers took blood samples from participants over a period of seven days, including three days after the end of the sunscreen application.

The blood tests showed that from the first day the concentration of all four chemical sunscreen ingredients tested on (avobenzone), oxybenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule) in the blood tests of the participants was above the limit of 0.5 ng / ml definitely does not sound ideal! It is not necessarily as scary as it seems.

"Just because something is absorbed does not make it unsafe," says Theresa Michele, MD director of the FDA's Department of Nonprescription Drugs to SELF. "What it means is that these ingredients need to be tested further to see how safe they are in the body." And that's exactly what the FDA hopes to achieve from here.

The FDA led this study for a Michele declaring that there are several reasons that are all related to the FDA's proposed regulatory changes for the regulation of sunscreens.

First of all, we know a lot more about how drugs are absorbed by the FDA. The body size was as large as in the 1970s, when sunscreen was first approved. "We used to think that what you apply to the skin stays on the skin and that's it," says Dr. Michele. We now know that this is definitely not the case. Note that this is not a bad thing by nature! Some medications – nicotine patches, contraceptive patches, etc. – are intentionally released through the skin and into the bloodstream, and what effects that might have. We also have more sensitive tests today to detect lower concentrations of these chemicals in the bloodstream, which is now the perfect time to re-examine these issues.

Second, the way we use sunscreen has evolved over the last few decades. It used to be fair-skinned that people wore on the beach for a few days and then thought about it only on their next vacation. But now "Sunscreen is recommended by many public health agencies to be used daily by nearly every member of the population, from the age of 6 months," says Dr. Michele. As more and more people use sunscreen, it is even more important to make sure we do it safely.

There is also an important deadline in the background, Dr. Stevenson. President Obama signed the Sun Protection Innovation Act in 2014, which aims to reduce the backlog of sunscreen applications to the FDA and bring new formulas and technologies to consumers quickly, she explains. As part of this plan, the FDA updates its sunscreen monograph (the drafting template used by companies to produce their products) within five years of regulatory approval, ie, in November 2019. The pressure is therefore at on .

But how much does this study really tell us? Not so much, actually. Remember that the study is small – 24 people tested four sunscreens, which means that only six people tested each product – as this is a preliminary finding. We should not draw significant conclusions from this, except to know that more research is needed and should have priority.

Also remember how the sunscreen was used in the study: participants put it on 75 percent of their bodies (basically anything that does not cover a swimsuit) four times a day for four days. These conditions, known as "maximum use", are intended to mimic the way someone uses sunscreen during their beach vacation Michele. And if you actually follow the instructions on your sunscreen bottle (something that really does not do ), you should do so.

However, this is not necessarily the same type of sunscreen Use what most of us do every day. Applying a relatively small amount of sunscreen on your face and neck every morning is not the same as putting a large amount on almost the entire body. It is not clear if we would see similar results from someone who simply uses a daily facial moisturizer with SPF 30.

And finally, remember that we have to weigh the unknown potential risks of using these sunscreens with the very painful side effects. real and potentially fatal risk of not wearing sunscreen, namely sunburn and skin cancer. At the moment, the known benefits of wearing sunscreen still outweigh the potential risks.

If you're still worried after all these caveats, you should definitely continue to wear sunscreen – But you know that you have many options . The sunscreens included in this study were all chemical blockers that protect the skin by converting UV rays into a form that does not harm the skin. If you currently use a chemical sunscreen, you can simply replace it with another based on physical (mineral) blocker ingredients. "If you are absolutely risk-averse," says Dr. Stevenson, "You can look for sunscreens containing only those mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are widely recognized by the FDA as safe and effective ( GRASE in FDA terminology) in the proposed sun protection rule

The conclusion is that we currently have no conclusive evidence that sunscreen ingredients are harmful, even if they enter your bloodstream, but we know that sunscreen is one of the best defense mechanisms against skin cancer and other types of UV-related skin damage So, continue to wear sunscreen for the time being and, thanks to this research, we may soon have more sun protection options to choose from.


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