Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

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By Chloe McAllaster

Earlier this summer, a study was released indicating that sunscreen ingredients may enter the bloodstream at potentially unsafe levels, sparking concern across the nation. After decades of being told that applying sunscreen is the best way to prevent skin cancer and ward off premature signs of aging, what does this breaking news mean for your skincare regimen?

In short, you should keep doing what you’re doing. As of now, the only certain threat is UV damage, which is best combatted by consistent sunscreen use. The Food and Drug Administration will release official information regarding the safety of the sunscreen ingredients in question later this year, but until then refrain from tossing out all your SPF. 

According to an article published by the New York Times, sunscreens were first regulated in the United States in the 1970s. At that time, they were treated as over-the-counter medications and guidelines were not as strict as those in place today. This new study found that four common sunscreen components—avobenzone, oxybenzone, octorylene, and ecamsule—all enter the bloodstream at levels higher than the limit in place by the F.D.A for active ingredients.

While this may seem like a huge red flag, it is very likely that this amount of absorption is completely safe, especially considering that widespread use of sunscreen has not produced any link to health problems.

If you want to be cautious, however, try sticking to sunscreens that use inorganic compounds like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products sit on top of the skin reflecting UV light, rather than absorbing into it. Other options include UV-blocking clothing, swimwear and hats. While you’ll still need to pair sunscreen with these items for full protection, you won’t have to use as much of it.

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