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What’s in Your Sunscreen? Does it Matter?

Tuesday, July 25th 2023 10:00am 3 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Sunscreen products are intended for daily use throughout a person’s lifetime. It is crucial for the companies manufacturing and selling sunscreen ingredients and products to thoroughly test them for potential short-term and long-term health effects. These tests should include toxicity assessments for skin irritation, allergies, skin absorption, and the potential to cause cancer, hormone disruption, as well as harm during reproduction and development.

Concerns about sunscreen ingredients

Inadequate safety data and emerging concerns

In 2019, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for regulating sunscreen safety, proposed updates to sunscreen regulations. Based on available information, only two ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, were classified as safe and effective. However, recent studies have raised new concerns about three other ingredients: homosalate, avobenzone, and oxybenzone.

European commission’s findings

In the past year, the European Commission published preliminary opinions on the safety of three organic UV filters: oxybenzone, homosalate, and octocrylene. The Commission found that the current usage levels of two of these ingredients were not safe and proposed concentration limits. U.S. sunscreen manufacturers, however, are legally allowed to use these chemicals at concentrations exceeding the European Commission’s recommendations.

Active ingredient toxicity

Examining the science on ingredient toxicity


Oxybenzone is the most concerning active ingredient in sunscreens based on available scientific research. It is readily absorbed through the skin and has been detected in nearly all Americans. Oxybenzone has been associated with allergic skin reactions, behaves as an endocrine disruptor, and poses potential harm to children.

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