There has been a lot in the news recently about sunscreen. Last week, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that chemical sunscreen agents are absorbed into the bloodstream when applied on the skin. Here are some important facts to consider before writing off sunscreen this summer!

  • More studies are needed. The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the blood does not mean the ingredient is unsafe. These sunscreen agents have been used for decades without any known side effects. However more tests are needed!
  • There are two main categories of sunscreen:
    • (1) Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays. Examples are avobenzone, oxybenzone and octinoxate.
    • (2) Physical sunscreens deflect UV rays. These are mineral products (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide).
  • Both types of sunscreens can provide broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) coverage. Traditionally, the physical sunscreens were thicker and more likely to leave a white residue on the skin. However newer formulations of physical sunscreens are easier to apply and come in tinted options.
  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US and most skin cancers are a direct result of UV exposure.
  • More than 5 sunburns doubles an individual’s risk of melanoma. Regular use of sunscreen and sun protective behaviors reduces the risk of melanoma.

Long story short: wear sunscreen this summer! If you have any concerns about the chemical ingredients while further studies are done, choose a physical sunscreen (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). We recommend EltaMD sun care products, and now carry them at the office for your convenience. And don’t forget other elements of sun protection – UV protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses. In Australia they use a slogan: “slip, slop, slap, seek, slide” which translates to “slip on a shirt, slop on SPF 50, slap on a hat, seek shade, and slide on sunglasses!”