Updates on sunscreens – still unfounded claims


Sunscreen safety hasn’t improved since the FDA set new rules on advertising in 2011. photo by Joe Shlabotnik, flickr

The past few years there have been studies on sunscreens and the news hasn’t been great. A myriad of false marketing claims have led consumers into a false sense of security about protection from harmful UV rays.

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Environmental watch group gives most sunscreens poor marks

Sunscreens aren't all what they claim to be

Sunscreens aren't all what they claim to be

Exaggerated SPF claims and potentially harmful additives are the reasons behind the poor marks most sunscreen products received poor marks in the Environmental Working Group ‘s (EWG) fourth annual Sunscreen Guide.

Out of the 5o0 sunscreens on the market today, the EWG only recommended 39 of them (8 percent).

The report shows that the majority of people under-utilize sunscreen, using only one-quarter of the recommended amount necessary to protect them from harmful rays. That results in drastically reduced effectiveness:

  • a product labeled SPF 100 actually performs like SPF 3.2
  • an SPF 30 product rating equstes to a 2.3
  • SPF 15 translates to a 2.0

FDA scientists also say that SPF claims above 50 can’t reliably be substantiated.

Reading through the report revealed some real myth-busters. These include;

  • There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
  • There’s no proof that the higher SPF products actually perform better than their lower cousins.

Other concerns revealed in the study focus on:

  • the addition of a orm of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate. This is found in 41 percent of all sunscreens.
  • a hormone0disrupting compound called oxybenzone has been found in many sunscreens


“”The FDA is investigating whether this compound may accelerate skin damage and elevate skin cancer risk when applied to skin exposed to sunlight.”

All of the 39 recommended sunscreens that earned the EWG’s “green” rating for safety and effectiveness all contain the minerals zinc and titanium.

Since 1978, the FDA has been working to create and finalize regulations pertaining to sunscreen. FDA officials now say they anticipate these regulations may finally be issued next October. That means the first FDA-regulated sunscreens won’t hit shselves until at least the summer of 2012! 

So what are sun-loving consumers to do until then to stay protected?

Check out the list of recommended sunscreens, lip balms, moisturizers, and SPF-based skincare make-up products. Then be sure to follow the instructions to ensure you get the protection you need.