Is sunscreen damaging your skin?

Sunscreen Ingredients

Why care about sunscreen? Most people only care that sunscreen works -- i.e. it keeps you from getting burned. But getting burned is only part of the damage, and many sunscreens can create more damage than they protect.

In recent FDA studies, most active sunscreen ingredients are eventually absorbed into the skin. “The study used four commercially available sunscreen products (lotion, aerosol spray, non-aerosol spray and pump spray). The publication results show that when sunscreen is applied to the skin, even a single application, all six tested active ingredients and all of the formulations, result in measurable blood levels of the active ingredient.”

In 2019 and 2020, the FDA published studies showing these ingredients: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone are all systemically absorbed into the body after a single use. They also found that the sunscreen ingredients could be detected on the skin and in blood weeks later.

With that in mind, what you put on your skin, matters. What goes on, eventually goes in. 

You put on sunscreen to keep sun rays from absorbing into your skin and causing DNA damage, as well as the burning damage you see and feel. But if most commercial sunscreens only provide burn protection, or even broad spectrum protection, while at the same time adding harmful chemicals like parabens, benzones, ect. that not only potentially harm humans but also harm reefs and other wildlife, you’re doing more harm than good.

A quick scan of most commercially available sunscreens can include ingredients like these:

Homosalate is in 45% of commercial sunscreens, and is a potential endocrine disruptor and studies suggest it could impact hormone levels and function. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives homosalate a four which means that it is considered a moderate hazard. However, that is not taking into account how much homosalate not only can build up in your skin, but also aids in the absorption of other harmful chemicals into your skin as well.

Octocrylene has been shown to accumulate in various types of aquatic life causing DNA damage, developmental abnormalities and adverse reproductive effects. Disturbing concentrations of harmful UV filters including octocrylene have been found in seafood. And like octinoxate, octocrylene acts as a photosensitizer which means it increases the production of free radicals in your skin when exposed to UV light – in turn increasing the risks of skin cancer and premature aging. 


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