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Mature Skin and Chemical Sunscreens: Do the Benefits Top the Potential Damage?

If you’re like me, you love the sunshine that the summer season has to offer – especially after what has been a very dreary spring for many of us.

Sunscreen in Your Bloodstream?

Recently, though, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study revealing that the chemicals in sunscreen seep into your bloodstream after just one day. Instead of sitting on top of your skin, those chemicals get absorbed in the bloodstream.

Remember when we used a reflector (horrors!) to speed up that tanned face? Or maybe you slathered baby oil all over to attract the brightest rays of summer right to your face and body, like I did. Well, those days are long gone, thankfully.

Summer Skin Care

Now we know the basics of summer skin care for our mature, yet glowing skin:

  • Wear a hat;
  • Stay out of the harshest sun between 10am and 2pm;
  • Long sleeves and long pants are the best protection;
  • Stay in the shade.

And the #1 summer skincare routine is the daily and multiple application of sunscreen… right? Yes, but with a new appreciation for how to best protect your face and body from both the sun and the chemicals in sunscreen.

The Research Around Using Chemical Sunscreen

After conducting their research, the scientists found that using sunscreen the approved way for just one day (applying about 1 ounce every 2 hours when in the sun) increased the amount of four chemical sunscreen active ingredients – avobenzone, ecamsule, octocrylene, and oxybenzone – in the bloodstream to levels the FDA says triggers the need for more testing, potentially raising concerns.

“The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean the ingredient is unsafe,” says Theresa Michele, M.D., director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products and one of the study’s authors. “Rather, this finding supports the FDA’s call to determine the safety of sunscreen ingredients for repeated use.” 

While our skin isn’t a sponge, it’s certainly taking in some ingredients that we apply to our body and transporting them further down into the body where they may or may not make it into the bloodstream.

Benefits of Sunscreen

With or without the results of this study, however, we must never stop using sunscreen. Sunscreen is important to apply every day, and throughout the day. The best sunscreens offer a myriad of important benefits, such as:

  • Shielding us from the harmful UV rays.
  • Lowering our risk of skin cancer.
  • Preventing premature aging of our skin.
  • Preventing sunburns.

Layer Your Sunscreen on Top

The question still remains though, of how to use sunscreen without having it seep into our skin. After all, it’s supposed to stay on it if it is to protect us.

The answer is simple. Apply your sunscreen as the outermost layer of protection.

When we apply sunscreen on top of a face or body serum or moisturizer, we build an additional layer of protection. So, when the sun shines upon us, our first layer of skin protection is the sunscreen with all of its SPF.

Then, since the sunscreen sits as the outermost layer protecting our skin, the layers beneath do not allow it to get absorbed into our body.

The sequence that works for mature facial skin is this:

  • First goes your nourishing and hydrating facial serum, applied using some simple facial acupressure techniques.
  • Then comes your moisturizer.
  • Follow by applying your makeup.
  • Finish with your sunscreen.

For your lovely mature body, first apply a toning and hydrating body serum or moisturizer, then follow with your sunscreen. Also, explore mineral sunscreens that will nurture your skin with natural ingredients. For example, Vive Sana Daily Protezione SPF 30, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 and Supergoop! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40.

Last by not least, always clean your face and body before bed. Never sleep with anything on your skin but your face and body serum or moisturizer. Let your pores refresh with the rest that is so vital to your whole body.

Sunscreen absorption into the bloodstream is a relatively new concept, and I’m sure more studies are in progress. Still, we should keep in mind that everyone’s body chemistry is different, and we all react to chemicals and beauty products differently.

On every gorgeous day, and each and every day, protect your skin with care and enjoy your summer!

How do you protect your body in the summer? Do you use a sunscreen? Which one is your favorite? Please share in the comments below!

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The Author

Sheena Nancy Sarles is the passionate founder of Growing Younger Gracefully™, creator of GYG Organic Facial and Body Serums™, author of “Growing Younger Gracefully: Your Guide to Aging with Vitality, Resilience, and Pizzazz,” and a lifelong student of well-being. Please visit her at

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