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The Chemicals in Your Sunscreen Are Being Absorbed Into Your Blood

Photo: Ojo Images/REX/Shutterstock

Sunscreen news is almost always terrifying, and today’s SPF update is no exception. According to new research, some of the chemicals in your sunscreen don’t just hang out on top of your skin and absorb the sun’s damaging rays, they also seep through your outer layer straight into your bloodstream and hang out there for at least a day.

The new study, which was published yesterday in the medical journal JAMA, tracked the whereabouts of four active ingredients found in commercially available sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule). The research shows that the ingredients not only enter the bloodstream, but three out of four of them also rise in the blood concentration and remain there for up 24 hours. Anything unknown in the bloodstream is scary, but what makes it extra terrifying is that we don’t know the effect of their presence. It’s a giant “To be continued.”

Dr. Josuha Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, broke it all down in more digestible terms. “In this preliminary study where high levels of sunscreen were applied to 75% of the body, low levels of chemical sunscreen filters were shown to be absorbed through the skin,” he said in a statement. If it gives you peace of mind, Zeichner also points out that most of us in the real world don’t even apply as much sunscreen as we should, so these results don’t necessarily reflect our fates.

“We need more data to understand this issue fully. Based on what we know today, the benefit of wearing sunscreen in protecting the skin against skin cancer and premature aging outweighs the potential risks,” he added. “If anyone is concerned with the use of chemical blocker sunscreens, mineral options that contain zinc oxide alone or in combination with titanium dioxide are a great option.”

So, in short, stay tuned for more news. In the meantime, switch to one of these if you’re equally paranoid about the sunscreen in your blood and the sun in general, just stick to your chemical sunscreen if you’re convinced we, like many others species, won’t be around to hear the results of the follow-up research. Or just stay inside, close the blinds, and blog in the dark until you feel lit inside rather than out.

Chemicals in Your Sunscreen Are Absorbed Into Your Blood