NASHVILLE (WSMV) - What you're putting on yourself and your kids to protect from the sun is getting increased scrutiny. The FDA wants to know if some of the chemicals inside sunscreens can be harmful.
Jessica Pinsley enjoys spending the summer at the pool with her son.
She knows the importance of sunscreen but admits she doesn't always know what’s in it.
“I don't. I look at the SPF and that's it,” said Pinsley
But according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the ingredients are just as important.
A new study out earlier this year by the FDA found some chemicals in many sunscreens could potentially be harmful.
Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene and Ecamsule are 4 common chemicals found in many over-the counter sunscreens. These are a few of the ones the FDA is concerned about. The problem? Medical experts say these chemicals are being absorbed into the bloodstream causing potential safety concerns.
“It doesn't mean we should stop using any of this stuff but we should be careful,” said Nashville Dermatologist Michael Gold.
Dr. Gold says it's unclear how harmful these chemicals are once in the bloodstream but that's exactly why they're being tested.
“I would not hesitate to use these on my children or my family,” said Gold.
So why the concern now when sunscreens such as these have been used by people for decades?
In an email to News4 Investigates, the FDA says sunscreen usage has changed, with people using it more often and in larger amounts.
The FDA also says, "While over-the-counter products are widely used, little is known about the ingredients in them."
“I buy over the counter stuff, but I will pay for better ingredients which may be more expensive than some of the cheaper stuff,” said Katharine Mosher who always makes sure her kids are wearing sunscreen.
And speaking of better ingredients, 2 chemicals you do want to see in your sunscreen are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are the 2 strongest protectors, according to Gold.
Mosher is happy to see the FDA taking extra safety measures and would like to see sunscreens off the shelves that could potentially be causing more harm than good.
“The more we know about what we're putting on our bodies and our children’s bodies the better,” said Mosher.
What about homemade sunscreens? While the "all natural and organic way" seems to be growing in popularity, some medical experts say the do-it-yourself recipes you'll find online may put you at risk for skin cancer.
“You’re paying for the satisfaction that you know what you're getting every time you put a sunscreen on. You make your own you have no idea,” said Dr. Gold.
For more information on which sunscreens the FDA recommends and other chemicals they’re testing, click on the links below.
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