Are SPF Sunscreens Safe?
With skin cancer on the rise, many people are purchasing SPF sunscreens to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. But is the SPF sunscreen you’re purchasing actually safe? The ingredients in SPF sunscreens enhance the absorption into the skin so it can withstand powerful UV rays without losing their effectiveness. This has flagged SPF sunscreens as potentially harmful because they were detected in the blood stream, urine samples, and breast milk. Specifically, the ingredient oxybenzone, where attention has focused on it being a hormone disruptor.
Top expert, Elizabeth Dundy, MD, said one study fed rats a large amount of oxybenzone over four days, which resulted in uterine growth. But to duplicate this, humans would have to apply SPF sunscreen with oxybenzone everyday over the entire body for 70 years.
While the evidence that SPF sunscreen causes harm isn’t truly realistic, the FDA is looking at how all sunscreen ingredients get absorbed by the skin and what it does to the body once in the blood stream.
This doesn’t mean not to use sunscreen. SPF Sunscreens have been used for decades and there hasn’t been any data stating they cause internal side effects in humans. We do know that mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are recognized as safe sunscreens according to the FDA. They are especially beneficial when it comes to protecting the skin from skin cancer, particularly melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
What Should You Look for in a SPF Sunscreen?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends a SPF of 30 or greater, broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, and water resistance. We highly recommend you check the label for these important measures, especially if you’ll be spending a lot of time outside.
To best protect your skin, it is recommended that you apply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming. Two tablespoons is the suggested amount needed for the face and body.
While we can’t always avoid the sun, we encourage people to wear protective clothing; wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, pants, long sleeve shirts, and generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to exposed skin.
To view a list of SPF sunscreens that carry The Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval, visit https://www.skincancer.org/products.
Contact Dermatologist Dr. Brian Mekelburg
If you have any questions or concerns regarding sunscreens, Dr. Brian Mekelburg and team would be happy to assist. Dr. Brian Mekelburg carries a line of SPF sunscreen products that are mineral based and approved by the AAD. Please call us at (310) 659-9075 for more info.