There are many myths revolving around sunscreen products, especially about how hazardous certain chemicals they include can be. Recent studies have concluded that sunscreen can also enter the bloodstream, and if a particular sunscreen features dangerous chemicals, what happens if our body absorbs it?
Today we’ll talk about how fast sunscreen can enter the bloodstream and does it present any dangers to our health, so without any further ado, let’s get straight to it:
All FDA-approved Sunscreen products are still safe to use
The fact that sunscreen can be absorbed by our skin has just been recently discovered. That does not mean that this phenomenon never happened before; it only means that the world is now more aware of it.
Sunscreen creams, oils, and lotions that were deemed ‘safe to use’ a year ago are still very much so. In a nutshell, FDA (and similar organizations across the world) perform tests through which they actively scan the ingredients of food and drug-related products multiple times. Each ingredient is tested by a set of parameters, and products that pass are considered ‘not unhealthy’ for our bodies.
The rate at which sunscreen enters our bloodstream depends on its type
There are multiple types of sunscreen products in terms of physical composition, including ingredients and application method, all of which heavily influence the rate at which sunscreen is absorbed. These are:
Powder-based sunscreen products
Sunscreen powders are essentially the driest form of sun protection. A chunk of particles may enter the bloodstream if the person has open wounds or through the eyes or mouth. However, if applied properly, powder-based sunscreen remains on the skin’s surface and won’t enter the bloodstream at all.
The particles that have managed to enter take considerably more time in comparison to liquid-based sunscreen products. Dry powders usually don’t have long-lasting effects, but more importantly, they will not clog our pores when applied. Powders with more intense formulas that can might be absorbed by our skin and later enter the bloodstream, although this can only happen if the sunscreen is not washed away from applied areas for more than a day.
Spray based sunscreen
Spray-based sunscreen products come in aerosol cans and offer a simple method of application, thin layers of sunscreen protection, and quick-acting effects. They don’t last nearly as long as gels or lotions, but they are slightly more ‘aggressive’ in comparison to powder-based sunscreen products.
The fact that sunscreen sprays leave very little residue with short-term effects means that these products can’t enter our bloodstream. Waterproof sprays have an extended lifetime by a couple of hours at most, but sunscreen contained in sprays is typically not capable of forming a layer of sufficient thickness that could actively penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.
Unlike powder-based sunscreen solutions, lotions are slightly heavier and can enter our bloodstream much easier. While powders and aerosol sunscreen products disperse particles with SSF almost evenly across larger areas, lotions form much thicker layers and can penetrate the skin more easily.
On another hand, lotions are easy to spread, which can reduce the clogging effects and potentially prevent the sunscreen from entering our bloodstream. Even so, many SS lotions are waterproof and can only be neutralized with hard scrubbing. Unless it has been completely removed from applied areas, this type of sunscreen will eventually enter the bloodstream within a day (or less, depending on the strength of the formula).
Much like lotions, sunscreen gels have a very thick formula that can create multiple layers of sun protection when applied. Given that both share the same kind of application method and a largely similar physical structure, they tend to enter the bloodstream through the same ‘avenues’ – open wounds, skin fractures, and pores.
Gels generally have the thickest structure and many are waterproof. However, relatively similar ingredients are used to create them, so they won’t invade your bloodstream any quicker than aerosol or lotion-based sun protection products.
Moisturizers that include sunscreen properties
Moisturizers that feature sun-protection factors are essentially hybrids between aerosol and mist spray sunscreen. This type of sunscreen has a very light composition and is almost incapable of entering the bloodstream because of it.
However, moisturizers are meant to be sprayed directly and can’t be ‘evened out’ by spreading like aerosol and gel-based sunscreen products can. Certain drops may enter our eyes, nasal canals, or ears, but they are most likely to be broken down by bodily fluids. Even stronger concentrations of moisturizers can’t enter the bloodstream unless sprayed directly on open wounds.
Commonly used with waterproof makeup, mist sprays with a light sunscreen factor are ideal for long beach days and for people who don’t want hazardous chemicals invading their system. Mist sprays aren’t capable of providing as much sun protection as lotions and gels, but they are much easier to remove and can’t get past our skin.
How long does it normally take for sunscreen to enter the bloodstream?
According to the latest research conducted by FDA, sunscreen products that feature potent chemicals need a day to break into our bloodstream. That being said, the intensity of the formula is one of the most impactful factors in this regard, followed by waterproof properties and the thickness of formed layers.
On the other hand, sunscreen products that evenly disperse sunscreen (aerosols and moisturizers) are almost incapable of entering the bloodstream whatsoever.
Natural sunscreen can enter the bloodstream, too … but won’t affect our health
Although natural-based sun protection products can easily get past our skin and enter our bloodstream, they won’t have as negative an impact on our health. According to the FDA’s research, chemicals are more invasive and more dangerous than any organic compound contained in sun lotions, gels, and balm sticks.
Furthermore, the time required for any sunscreen to enter the bloodstream is different for organic products; with the absence of chemical compounds, our natural barriers will repel natural ingredients quite easily. Unfortunately, many natural-based sunscreens feature at least several chemical ingredients—so read labels and look at all ingredients, even with natural mineral-based sunscreens.
We hope that this brief guide was useful to you and that you have learned something new today on how fast sunscreen can enter the bloodstream. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!
Sun is Killing Me is a team of sun warriors on a mission to help people better understand the dangers of UV exposure and offer the knowledge needed to gear up and protect themselves. Learn more at suniskillingme.com