Dangerous Sunscreen Chemicals: Lingering in the Bloodstream


FDA testing shows that 4 common active ingredients linger for days, and even weeks, in the bloodstream after a single application. Some of these ingredients can disrupt hormones and may lead to infertility problems, poor birth outcomes of babies and in some cases cancer.

Last year a bombshell was dropped where it was discovered that the 4 most common chemical UV filters (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule) are absorbed into the bloodstream in sustainable amounts and remain present for days, even weeks after.

“The testing showed that just a single application of sunscreen- whether as a lotion or a spray- increases the blood levels of these active ingredients beyond the FDA threshold of determining if they need more study to be considered safe for use,” says Alok Vij, MD Dermatologist.

This means further testing needs to be done before they can be considered GRASE (Generally Regarded As Safe and Effective) products. As of now the testing that the sunscreen makers were required to perform has not been met, despite having a November 2019 deadline.


How Did Sunscreen Escape Saftey Testing Thusfar?

Only several decades ago did the FDA begin to take sunscreen manufacturers into question about the safety of their products “These standards were set in the last couple of decades, but sunscreen has been around for a lot longer than that,” says Kanade Shinkai, MD, PhD Dermatologist. Sunscreen, therefore, graduated into the FDA’s surveillance system without having any proper safety testing done.


What Were The Recent Tests and Their Results?

The FDA ran tests where they used both aerosol and pump lotion chemical sunscreens on 48 healthy adults, half male and half female, covering up to 75% of their body in 2-hour interval applications over 4 days (i.e. 4 applications of sunscreen a day). They then performed blood tests on the participants each week for 4 weeks after the final application.

The FDA was criticised that the number of applications was unrealistic, however, Shinkai states that “what they did in this study very much mimics what it says on the sunscreen tube, these are not unrealistic. This is real-world. At least the way it’s recommended.”

It was found that the blood concentrations of oxybenzone were more than 180 times the FDA’s level threshold after one use and 500 times more after 4 days of regular use. Three weeks post final application oxybenzone was still found in the bloodstream.

This comes as a concern as oxybenzone may affect breast development, infant birth weight and sperm function. Not to mention the devastating effects oxybenzone has on destroying our coral reefs in the ocean.


What Can You Do Now?

While chemical sunscreens -as it stands today- cannot be regarded as safe nor unsafe, it is still very important to protect your family and yourself daily from the sun’s harmful rays. Besides being smart about when you expose yourself to the sun (Limit your time between 11 am-4 pm), you can also protect yourself with a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These ingredients are proven to be safe and are found in our Waxy’s Original Brand.


Goodman, B. 2020. FDA: Skin Absorbs Dangerous Sunscreen Chemicals. Medscape. [Online]. Available at: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/924035 [Accessed 22 January 2020].

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