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  • Susan Busch NP

What’s all the fuss about Chemical Sunscreens?

Updated: Jun 12, 2019

The New York Times recently published an article referencing the latest study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which subsequently raised a lot of questions and concerns for the general public. The JAMA study examined four common sunscreen ingredients: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule.

This study concluded, “In this preliminary study involving healthy volunteers, application of 4 commercially available sunscreens under maximal use conditions resulted in plasma concentrations that exceeded the threshold established by the FDA for potentially waiving some nonclinical toxicology studies for sunscreens. The systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings. These results do not indicate that individuals should refrain from the use of sunscreen.”

This is not evidence that sunscreen is harmful but that the FDA is requesting more studies and information about the possible side effects of these ingredients if the enter the blood stream.

If you are concerned you should use sunscreens that only contain zinc oxide and /or titanium dioxide.


What are Chemical Sunscreens?

Chemical Sunscreens absorb the sun’s Ultra Violet rays. They are absorbed into the skin. The FDA is proposing more studies and safety standards for chemical sunscreens.


What are Physical (mineral) Sunscreens?

Physical sunscreens deflect the Ultra Violet rays. Physical sunscreens contain the active ingredients titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both. Physical sunscreens are best for sensitive skin. The FDA is proposing that these ingredients are recognized as safe and effective.


Should you continue to use sunscreen?

The FDA recently issued the following statement, “Given the recognized public health benefits of sunscreen use, Americans should continue to use sunscreen with other sun protective measures as this important rule-making efforts move forward.”


The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an SPF of 30 or higher, as well as a broad spectrum sunscreen to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, sunburns and decrease signs of aging.


Are you confused about SPF, UVB and Broad Spectrum? See my blog on The Science Behind Sunscreen to unravel the mystery.

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