According to a study published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, May 6, 2019, the active ingredients found in sunscreens can end up in the bloodstream at higher than recommended levels. The FDA says that this small study, which involved 23 volunteers, warrants conducting further safety studies.
The study evaluated one sunscreen cream, one lotion and two sprays. The 23 volunteers applied the specified sunscreen to 75% of their body four times a day for four days. Over the course of seven days, blood tests were conducted to determine the levels of certain chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream.
The study found the maximum plasma levels of avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene (in one sunscreen, they also tested for ecamsule)—the active ingredients in sunscreen—to be above the level of 0.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). For example, the study found the avobenzone concentration to be 4 ng/mL and 3.4 ng/mL in the sprays, 1.8 ng/mL in the cream and 4.3 ng/mL in the lotion.
The 0.5 ng/mL level is significant because it’s the level at which FDA guidelines call for further safety testing.
What Does This Mean?
The effects of plasma concentration exceeding the FDA’s limit isn’t currently known. As such, the study’s research team called for further safety testing to be conducted. However, the research team stated that the results of this small study do not suggest that people should stop using sunscreen. Failing to use sunscreen can leave you vulnerable to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.
It’s likely that further safety testing on sunscreen and its active ingredients will be conducted. Until told otherwise, continue to use sunscreen as directed when you’re out in the sun to protect your skin.
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