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Chemical Sunscreens in the Blood?

Should you be concerned about the new report showing high levels of certain chemical sunscreens in the blood?

Earlier in May, a pilot study was published that showed high concentrations of 4 chemical sunscreens in the blood.  This study was done over 7 days with 24 people using different mixtures of chemical sunscreens in spray, lotion, or cream forms.This was a small study to see if there was reason to really study absorption through the skin.

The conclusion? 

There is reason to do much bigger studies and see what the facts are across a spectrum of skin types.

In the meantime, what should your response be?

Here are some facts for your consideration:

The sunscreen application method was PERFECT, that is: 4 times a day to 75% of the body at a volume of 2 gm per cm2. 
Is that how you apply your sunscreen?  Odds are not.  Most people use 25-50% of the volume of the recommended sunscreen volume, so the chances are that your absorption is significantly less than this study showed.

So, don’t panic about your past chemical sunscreen usage.  There is no evidence of long term side effects from chemical sunscreen use but there is a ton of evidence of the long term effects of sunburns and UV exposure.

What to do now?

Physical sunblocks:  I have always been huge advocate of chemical free or physical sunblocks.  Zinc and titanium were not studied but they physically block UV rays and work on the skin, not in the skin, as chemical screens do. 

When I first opened my practice, EltaMD was one of the few brands using zinc exclusively.  We have offered it from Day 1. Today all major sun protection lines have physical sunblock options.  We have numerous choices in the office and there is a variety at the drugstore, so READ THE LABELS and opt for zinc and titanium. 

Please note, physical blocks are not necessarily heavy.  One of our newest, ISDIN Eryfotona, is so light that my golfers love it because it rubs right in and they can’t feel it on their hands or face. 

Some products may give your skin a slight white haze but many now have a light tint to eliminate that haze.  In our office, we have testers of all our sunblocks so feel free to come in and rub them in.  Find the ones you love and USE THEM!!!

SPF clothing:  This is the future and the technology gets better everyday. was one of the first companies to offer stylish, sunprotective clothing and they still lead the pack in my opinion.  But LandsEnd, among many others, has embraced sun protection in their children’s and adult clothing.  Look for their new SPF 50 Swim Tees.

Most of you know, HATS are my most beloved sun protection option because you can store them in your car with your umbrella and they are instant protection for our most vulnerable areas: face, ears, scalp and neck.  Don’t leave home without a hat nearby and have a travel hat that packs easily.  The face you save will be your own.  We offer numerous lightweight, stylish and inexpensive hats in all of our offices.

Hope this helps understand this new information and ways to protect yourself while we await further studies about the implications of skin absorption of chemical sunscreens.


Rutledge Forney, MD.{/layout:set}