Putting on sunscreen may cause chemicals to seep into your bloodstream after just a day. That doesn’t mean you should stop using it.

TanyaRozhnovskaya/ShutterstockJust one day of sunscreen use could result in chemicals from the product entering the bloodstream.
  • A small study found that people who used sunscreen for just one day had traces of chemicals from the product in their bloodstreams.
  • Researchers tested two spray sunscreens, one lotion, and one cream formula.
  • They are unsure of the risks associated with these chemicals in the bloodstream, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called for an investigation into sunscreen ingredients.
  • Experts suggest people continue to use sunscreen
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen daily to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but a new study suggests sunscreen could have some unexpected downsides.

On May 6, researchers from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a small study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that found just one day of sunscreen use could result in chemicals from the product being absorbed the bloodstream at a rate higher than the FDA’s proposed guidelines for safety.

The researchers had 24 people apply various sunscreens four times per day in two-hour increments to mimic normal sunscreen reapplication guidelines. Participants applied one of two spray sunscreens, a lotion, or a cream. Each sunscreen contained different combinations of four chemicals: avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, and octocrylene.

The researchers found that after one day of use, people had traces of the chemicals from the various products in their bloodstreams. This was the case for all four chemicals and all four sunscreen formulas.

One of the chemicals, oxybenzone, had an especially high absorption rate. “Oxybenzone was absorbed into the body at about 50 to 100 times higher concentration than any of these other three chemicals they tested,” Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), told CNN.

Oxybenzone’s potential risks have been examined before

This isn’t the first time scientists have raised concerns about oxybenzone, which is used to deflect harmful rays from the sun. In 2008, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the chemical to be in “nearly all of the people tested” out of a sample of 2,517 people ages six and older. The CDC said that the effects of oxybenzone absorbed into the body are unknown, but it has caused skin rashes in the past.

In certain places in the US, including Key West, sunscreens containing oxybenzone are banned because they are harmful to marine ecosystems.

“Although [over the counter] sunscreen products are widely used, little is known about systemic exposure for most active ingredients,” the study authors wrote. “Understanding the extent of systemic exposure of these products is important, as even a low percentage of systemic absorption could represent a significant systemic exposure.”


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In February, the FDA proposed a new policy that would require stricter regulation of sunscreens that contain 12 chemicals the agency has deemed lacking in sufficient safety data. The JAMA study looked at four of those chemicals.

Although the researchers in this study found that chemical absorption does indeed occur, the were unable to pinpoint health issues that could arise from absorbing sunscreen chemicals.

The study was small, and suggests more research needs to be done to determine if a risk exists.

You shouldn’t stop wearing sunscreen just yet

Despite these findings, experts want people to continue wearing sunscreen to protect their skin from harmful rays.

The amount of sunscreen study participants applied was considered twice the amount people would apply in real life, according to the British Association of Dermatologists.

Current guidelines from American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggest people apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, and most adults need one ounce of sunscreen to cover their entire bodies. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming.

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