New research shed light on the fact that certain ingredients in over-the-counter sunscreen lotion are being absorbed into our bodies at potentially dangerous levels.
Although we know the chemicals — avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule — can stay in the blood for hours, it’s unclear what sort of long-term health issues they may cause, according to the
Until we have more information about the damage chemical-based UV sunscreens can cause, dermatologists are urging people to continue its use as it’s our best bet at protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Many dermatologists suggest swapping your chemical-based lotions for safer alternatives like a mineral-based product.
Skin cancer is on the rise, and approximately 1 in 5 people are at risk for developing skin cancer at some point in their lives, according to Dr. Janiene Luke-Campbell, a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor in the department of dermatology at the Loma Linda University Medical Center.
“We always have to weigh the risks and benefits, and while we currently do not know whether sunscreen components absorbed through the skin [are] harmful, we do know that sunscreens are very effective in preventing skin cancers,” Luke-Campbell told Healthline.
Most dermatologists recommend opting for a mineral-based sunscreen — also called physical sunscreen — that’s made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Mineral sunscreens sit atop your skin and reflect sunlight, whereas chemical sunscreens use synthetic chemicals to absorb the sun’s rays only after they’ve penetrated the skin.
Mineral sunscreens come in two forms: lotion and powder. Powder sunscreens help absorb oil, so are ideal for people with oily or acne-prone skin, says Luke-Campbell. Most dermatologists suggest using it for reapplication or on top of a lotion-based sunscreen.
Additionally, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, which can block close to 98 percent of the sun’s rays. It should be broad-spectrum to protect your skin against both UVB, or burning rays, and UVA, or aging rays.
Here are five dermatologist-recommended sunscreens that won’t seep into your bloodstream.
Blue Lizard is built for people with sensitive skin as it has a very simple, gentle formula. It provides broad-spectrum protection from most of the sun’s burning rays. Not to mention, the bottle changes colors when the sun’s rays are most harmful, letting you know it may be time to reapply or step in the shade.
“[Blue Lizard’s] great for those with eczema or sensitive skin as they contain only mineral sunscreen ingredients (e.g., zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and are free of common irritants and allergens such as fragrances and parabens,” says Dr. Kara Shah, a board-certified pediatric and adult dermatologist at Kenwood Dermatology in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This zinc oxide–based sunscreen is water-resistant for 80 minutes and hypoallergenic. It’s noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, and has a lightweight feel, which makes it great for the face and the body, said Shah. It also tends to stay put so if you’re active or planning to spend a lot of time in the water, this will keep you well protected.
EltaMD is one of the few spray-on mineral-based sunscreens out there. Although it dries clear when rubbed in, it sprays on white so you can ensure you’re well covered. If you’re prone to acne or your skin is oilier, look for EltaMD. According to Shah, it’s light, non-greasy, and a great option for face protection.
When it comes to powder protection, Colorescience is one of the top dermatologist-recommended products. Not only does it protect against UVA and UVB rays, but it blocks infrared radiation, blue light, and pollution as well.
The Face Shield option is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, and the full body brush-on version is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. It’s recommended for those with acne, as it’s light and dry. It also comes in four different skin tones.
This powder-based sunscreen is applied via a brush that’s attached to the packaging. It’s easy to use and it helps absorb extra facial oil, according to Dr. Deanne Robinson, a dermatologist with Modern Dermatology of Connecticut. That said, she recommends applying a lotion-based sunscreen first, then reapplying with a powder.
“I still think it’s best to start the day with a base of zinc titanium sunscreen and add powder on top for reapplication,” says Robinson.
It’s crucial to apply enough sunscreen — any less than one ounce and you won’t get the intended protection that’s listed on the bottle, according to Luke-Campbell.
Don’t forget to cover the more sensitive parts of your body — such as the neck, lips, eyelids, and ears — as these areas tend to be hit with the most direct sunlight.
In addition, be sure to reapply every two hours or so as most sunscreens only provide protection for about 90 minutes or less, especially if you’ve been in or around water. Other than that, remember to buy new sunscreen every year as they become less effective over time.
In light of the recent news that certain ingredients in chemical-based sunscreens may seep into your skin and potentially cause harm, dermatologists are recommending people opt for mineral-based lotion and powder sunscreens instead.
Mineral sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting the sun’s rays before they get the chance to penetrate the skin.