Wearing sunscreen is important, right? It helps prevent skin damage, thwarts premature aging and staves off skin cancer. Beauty experts and doctors alike agree that we should all be wearing some form of sunscreen daily. Too much sun is the enemy of health and beauty, and sunscreen is your knight in shining armor.
But wait—beyond its ability to protect it from the sun, is sunscreen even that good for your skin? Is it even safe to wear it every day? Turns out, that knight might not be as well-intentioned as it seems.
Our skin is porous, which means it absorbs the things we put on it. Every cream, balm, oil and lotion you apply to your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream and dispersed throughout your body. The same is true for sunscreen.
SUNSCREEN SAFETY STUDY
Bad news—there has never been extensive safety testing on the active ingredients in conventional sunscreens. The FDA approved these ingredients for use long before researchers were conscious of the skin’s eager permeability, but we’re finally catching up. The FDA recently released the results of a small clinical trial designed to test how much of these sun-thwarting chemicals we actually absorb.
The results? The four most popular UV-blocking chemicals—avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule—do seep into our bloodstreams.
According to Wired, “It took only a few hours after the application of sunscreen for the photoprotective chemicals to infiltrate the bloodstream and shoot up to concentrations above the FDA’s toxicology threshold that triggers further safety testing.”
Researchers saw this result across the board in all 24 volunteers for all types of sunscreens they used—lotions, creams, and sprays. Levels even remained higher than normal through to the end of the study, three days after volunteers had ceased applying their sunscreens.
IS CONVENTIONAL SUNSCREEN DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD?
Not necessarily. We still need more research to know how these chemicals affect us once they’re inside our bodies. In the meantime, it’s definitely something to remain conscious of.
This doesn’t mean that you should stop wearing sunscreen. Sun damage still leads to skin cancer.
What it does mean is that you should be more mindful about what you use to protect your skin. A good idea is to opt for more natural options that use non-nanoparticle zinc as an active ingredient. This zinc is too large to be absorbed through your skin’s pores and is likely safer than conventional options.
A favorite is Manda, which is specially designed by surfers to be reef-safe and uses natural ingredients, like non-nano zinc, coconut oil and thanaka to nourish your skin and naturally disperse the sun.
The moral is: what you put on your skin matters. Protect yourself from the sun, but be conscious. Your skin is a direct pathway to your bloodstream.