Is your sunscreen harming your skin? New study says it might be

Is your sunscreen harming your skin? New study says it might be

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new report published from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says that nearly two-thirds of all sunscreens evaluated in their “2019 Guide to Sunscreens” would not pass safety tests proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This news comes as the heat of summer is dawning for many places across the country. According to the analysis, the EWG looked at the ingredients and performance of more than 1,300 products with an SPF.

Director of Healthy Living Science Nneka Leiba said, in an article from CNN, that this study is a departure from one’s in the past because the standards for the 2019 guide were so much higher. “The fact that 60% of the market seemingly wouldn’t be considered safe and effective by the FDA is a huge deal.”

Four ingredients have been specifically called into question as potentially harmful substances that could enter a person’s bloodstream after just one day of use. Those ingredients are: avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene - all of which are commonly found in household sunscreens.

Tamara Palmer, the Director of The Esthetic Learning Center in Columbia, said she’s told them same thing to many clients and students over the years.

“Oxybenzone especially is not good for the skin - it’s a chemical," Palmer said. "It will separate on the skin and it will break apart as you get in the water as you’re sweating. It’s not safe.”

Palmer said that there are two key things people should be looking for before purchasing their sunscreen for summer.

“For the skin, I tell all my clients and my students, you need to look for something that has zinc and/or titanium dioxide in it," Palmer said. “Those are the two best physical blockers.”

Though FDA study did not show that oxybenzone and the others in question can cause health issues, only that the chemicals could be absorbed, they suggest that consumers should be looking for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which studies show are not absorbed into the skin.

Dr. Karen Pollock with Ballentine pediatrics also warns about the potential dangers of “homemade sunscreen” recipes that you can find online.

"I’ve heard of patients – actually I had one yesterday - that said her sister was making some homemade sunscreen...I don’t think its as helpful as they think it is. A lot of these recipes do contain zinc oxide which is in commercial sunscreen ingredients – the problem is it hasn’t been tested, you don’t know how much is in it or if you are distributing it evenly in your homemade products like they do in commercial grade ones. So I’m very skeptical on that. "

Another key point - make sure to wear sunscreen with SPF that matters. According to the FDA’s studies, there is no good data showing that sunscreens can protect past a level of 60+ SPF.

“The SPF you need every day is an SPF 30 or higher. That’s going to give you the protection you need and you don’t want to go any lower - it’s not going to be effective,” Palmer said.

The EWG says, despite the challenges of the study, consumers still should continue to protect their skin from the sun and use caution when looking at ingredients.

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