As more information about the safety of personal care products ingredients becomes available, more clinical trials are being done to support changing the FDA's guidelines. Sunscreen products have been found to cause damage to ecosystems like coral reefs and other coastal areas but less information is available on how sunscreen ingredients affect our bodies.
A clinical trial Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients was done in a clinical pharmacology unit located in Wisconsin in early 2019 to provide the FDA with information regarding active sunscreen ingredients. The FDA proposed that most sunscreen active ingredients are not technically classified as "generally recognized as safe and effective" or GRASE. So the findings of this study can help support the FDA in indicating the safety of these ingredients.
It highlighted 6 active sunscreen ingredients (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate). There were 48 participants that were given 1 of 4 sunscreens (lotion, aerosol spray, non aerosol spray, and pump spray).
On the first day they applied the sunscreen once and then 4 times a day for the following 3 days for a total of 13 applications. Blood tests and skin tape stripping was used to collect information on residual and plasma concentrations.
The FDA has currently has 0.5ng/mL set as the safety threshold for absorption of these ingredients; in this study the maximum concentrations of all 6 ingredients surpassed 0.5ng/mL on the first day of application.
The systemic exposure (meaning they could find concentrations in the plasma) remained present in more than 50% of the participants at concentrations higher then the FDA threshold (0.5ng/mL) for some lasting up to 21 days.
This study does not specifically indicate that these products should never be used but it indicates that more studies NEED to be done regarding additional safety measures of these ingredients.
On the bright side! There are many alternatives to these nasty ingredients. Like Zinc-oxide, it does not absorb into your skin and acts as a physical barrier from the UV rays. It does sometimes leave a white residue but more and more companies are producing tinted-zinc sunscreens that help diminish the ghostly white look it can give you.
At SUR we just launched our new Mineral Defense: Tinted Zinc Sunscreen. There are 5 shades of sunscreens, 1 without any tint and 4 different shades. You can purchase a $20 sample kit of the mineral defense to determine your perfect match. Try mixing them to create an even better shade just for you :)