Is Sunscreen Safe?

Sunscreen allows us to safely enjoy being outside while protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US, but it’s also one of the most easily preventable. Using sunscreen anytime you’re outside – even on a cloudy day – can help lower your risk of developing skin cancer.

Sunscreen is an essential part of protecting yourself, but there is controversy over whether it’s safe to use regularly.

Sunscreens, Carcinogens, and Safety Concerns

As part of their mission to increase quality and transparency in the pharmaceutical industry, Valisure recently published the results of recent tests they performed on available sunscreen brands. They found that 27% of the tested samples contained a known carcinogen called benzene.

While benzene is not an active ingredient, it is a common solvent used in manufacturing. Because chemical sunscreens get absorbed through the skin, a sunscreen contaminated with benzene may lead to blood cancers such as leukemia.

The Federal Drug Administration has been working to clarify which ingredients can be safely included in sunscreen. They recently updated their regulations regarding safe active ingredients to be used in sunscreen.

This recent order proposes a reorganization of their list of 16 “approved” sunscreen ingredients into three categories:

Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective (GRASE) for sunscreens:

  • zinc oxide
  • titanium dioxide

Not GRASE for use in sunscreens:

  • aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • trolamine salicylate

Insufficient data for use in sunscreens:

  • cinoxate
  • dioxybenzone
  • ensulizole
  • homosalate
  • meradimate
  • octinoxate
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene
  • padimate O
  • sulisobenzone
  • oxybenzone
  • avobenzone

The items in that third category are not necessarily dangerous. They are only declaring that insufficient data is currently available and more research is needed before a determination can be made.

Yes, You Should Use Sunscreen

These warnings should not scare you away from using sunscreen – they should demonstrate that careful measures and safety standards are in place to ensure that safe and high-quality sunscreen remains a staple in your personal care routine.

Sunscreens are a vital part of protecting your skin from the dangerous effects of sun exposure. Many brands are available that only contain ingredients recognized as safe.

Use sunscreen anytime you plan to be outside, even on cloudy days and during the winter. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your skin is safe from the sun’s harmful rays.

Stay in the shade whenever possible. Wear hats to protect your face, neck, and shoulders. Long sleeves and pants may seem inconvenient, but they are much more comfortable than sunburned skin.

Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen onto every little bit of skin that isn’t covered by clothing. Your skin is too important to neglect.