Sunscreens in human plasma and urine after repeated whole-body topical application

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Apr;22(4):456-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2007.02492.x. Epub 2008 Jan 23.


Background: The three chemical ultraviolet absorbers benzophenone-3 (BP-3), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC) and 3-(4-methylbenzylidene) camphor (4-MBC) are commercially used in sunscreens worldwide. Apart from sun protection, they may possess endocrine-disrupting effects in animals and in vitro. For all three compounds, only sporadic measurements of percutaneous absorption and excretion after topical application in humans have been described.

Methods: In this study, 32 healthy volunteers, 15 young males and 17 postmenopausal females, were exposed to daily whole-body topical application of 2 mg/cm(2) of sunscreen formulation at 10% (w/w) of each for 4 days. Blood concentrations were measured at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 24 and 96 h and urine concentrations at 0, 24, 48, 72 and 96 h.

Results: Almost all three sunscreens were undetectable in plasma and urine before the first application. One to 2 h after the first application, all three sunscreens were detectable in plasma. The maximum median plasma concentrations were 187 ng/mL BP-3, 16 ng/mL 4-MBC and 7 ng/mL OMC for females and 238 ng/mL BP-3, 18 ng/mL 4-MBC and 16 ng/mL OMC for men. In the females, urine levels of 44 ng/mL BP-3 and 4 ng/mL of 4-MBC and 6 ng/mL OMC were found, and in the males, urine levels of 81 ng/mL BP-3, 4 ng/mL of 4-MBC and OMC were found. In plasma, the 96-h median concentrations were higher compared with the 24-h concentrations for 4-MBC and OMC in men and for BP-3 and 4-MBC in females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benzophenones / blood
  • Benzophenones / urine
  • Camphor / analogs & derivatives
  • Camphor / blood
  • Camphor / urine
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cinnamates / blood
  • Cinnamates / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Skin Absorption
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacokinetics*


  • Benzophenones
  • Cinnamates
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • octylmethoxycinnamate
  • Camphor
  • enzacamene