You probably have heard that some sunscreen filters can enter in your blood. A recent paper form Matta et al. showed that 4 filters Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, and Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) are absorbed into the blood circulation. This data was published in JAMA journal: “Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients”
This paper has received a lot of attention and create fear about wearing sunscreen.
There are countless data that has demonstrated the carcinogenic effect of the sun on skin cells. Biologists have used UV to induce mutation in DNA of bacteria for decades so there is no doubt about the toxic effect of the sun on our cells. Every year, in France, skin cancer increase of 10% and more people are dying because of it. The only way to reduce the risk of getting one is to protect your skin from sun exposure.
It is also known that sun exposure speeds up the process of aging, even behind a window. The best way of slowing down the aging process is wearing sunscreen.
The experiment set up
The experiment set up is relatively simple. Twenty-four participants applied 2 milligrams of sunscreen per 1 cm2 to 75% on their body 4 times per day for seven days. They have tested different formulations in spray, lotion, and cream. They used two different techniques to asses the level of filters in the blood (liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry).
The results and discussion
They have demonstrated that Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, and Ecamsule are indeed absorbed into the blood.
These results can appear shocking and make you want to toss your beloved sunscreen but there are not new at all. This has been known for 15 years already! Janjua et al. in 2004 (here) have demonstrated that Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and 3-(4-methyl-benzylidene) camphor are absorbed into the blood (I have already made a post about it on Instagram, here) but have NO endocrine disruption effects.
So this new paper doesn’t tell us anything new. Now, we know that Avobenzone, Octocrylene, and Ecamsule are also absorbed into the blood.
Do sunscreen filters in your blood affect your health?
The crucial question is do those filters affect our health? And the answer is that we have NO data to show it in vivo. Systemic absorption doesn’t mean it is UNSAFE. You have probably heard that most cosmetics ingredient cannot penetrate the skin and stay at the very surface but this is not always true. The size and the nature of the molecules determine what is absorbed in the skin or not.
Retinol and vitamin C can penetrate the skin. I am pretty sure that a whole body application of retinol cream, reapply 4 times a day can likely lead to an increase of retinol in the blood. I would not be surprised that it is also the case with shea butter.
This is exactly the type of paper that I dislike because we don’t learn anything new and it is not true scientific work. There is not a single experiment to assay the hormonal levels despite the fact they had blood samples. They would have been able to draw conclusions regarding our health but they did not.
My point of view
So in conclusion, we know now that Avobenzone, Octocrylene, and Ecamsule enter the blood but we have no data
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Thank you for your time