Research has shown that some sunscreen ingredients can seep through the skin into your bloodstream. Several spray sunscreens were recalled after benzene, a known carcinogen, was detected in them, and Hawaii has banned certain ingredients because of concerns that they may harm ocean reefs.
While those issues raise real concerns, the risks are more theoretical than proven. Regular sunscreen use does prevent skin cancers and saves lives. It can lower the risk of melanoma by about 50 per cent.
Recent research has raised concerns about chemical sunscreens.
The FDA scientists published studies showing that avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone get into the bloodstream.
Absorption doesn’t mean these ingredients are unsafe, but the amounts absorbed were higher than the level the FDA says would exempt them from safety testing. However, definitive answers may be years away.
The FDA, the American Academy of Dermatology, and independent researchers say that UV filters have been used for years by millions of people, and there have not been noticeable systemic effects.
Research in animals suggests that oxybenzone might interfere with hormone production, which could affect fertility, puberty, and thyroid function. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents not use oxybenzone-containing sunscreens on children.
Sunscreens with the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide work by creating a physical barrier on your skin and are not absorbed into the skin.
However, mineral sunscreens might not be as effective as products with chemical filters because it t takes a lot of titanium or zinc to create a product with a high SPF. The minerals also may clump up in the product, so they don’t get evenly dispersed on the skin. They can also wipe off more easily.
Both spray and lotion can do a good job if used correctly.
Sprays have the highest rated SPF level, but can be tricky to apply because the droplets can disperse into the air and make it easy to miss areas on your skin. Instead, spray sunscreen onto the palm of your hand then rub it in.
Ensure you don't inhale the spray as the ingredients may irritate or even harm your lungs.
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