Almost half of the most popular sunscreens don’t actually adhere to American Academy of Dermatology guidelines, according to a new report published online by JAMA Dermatology. Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago say that among the most popular sunscreen products that were rated well by consumers, guidelines set by dermatologists are not actually being met.
A team led by Shuai Xu, M.D., M.Sc., searched Amazon for the best rated sunscreen products. Of over 6,500 products in the sunscreen category, only products rated in the top one-percentile by consumers were analyzed. In total, 65 sunscreen products were examined. Their median price was $3.32 an ounce and a median SPF rating of 35. Almost all of the products were SPF 30 or higher, according to Medical News Today. More than nine out of every 10 sunscreens claimed to be “broad-spectrum,” and more than six of every 10 were labeled as either sweat or water-resistant. Most people preferred creams, with lotions and sprays as the next most popular choices.
“In 2012, the market for sunscreens was expected to become a $1 billion industry by 2016 with an expansive range of marketed sunscreen products,” the authors noted. “Of consumers, 73% buy beauty and personal care products through Amazon.com, which totals an estimated 9% of all sunscreen sales occurring with this online retailer.”
— Northwestern (@NorthwesternU) July 6, 2016
Despite claims of sweat and water-resistance, exposure to water or sweat did reduce effectiveness in many of them. A total of 40 percent of the most highly rated sunscreens did not adhere to AAD guidelines, usually because of this lack of actual resistance to water and sweat.
The researchers also cautioned consumers to take claims such as “safe for sensitive skin,” “preservative free,” or “noncomedogenic” with a grain of salt. The team said that these claims are mere marketing mechanisms, rather than actual regulated performance standards.
“Dermatologists should counsel patients that sunscreen products come with numerous marketing claims and varying cosmetic applicability, all of which must be balanced with adequate photoprotection.”
Earlier this year, the Inquisitr reported that a fertility study by Danish researchers indicates that some ingredients in sunscreens in both Europe and America can disrupt sperm function.
The newly published report in JAMA Dermatology says that recent legislation now allows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to rapidly approve new sunscreen products. They say that this will give consumers even more products to choose from. In Europe, sunscreens are said to have better UV absorption performance, according to the JAMA authors, but “there is limited empirical evidence that this leads to lower skin carcinogenesis in clinical practice.”
In other sunscreen news, last month, Paul Lambrakis of Brooklyn filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of Banana Boat Sunscreen. He claimed that he bought the lotion, which said that it had an SPF of 50 for his daughter, but when he sent the bottle for testing to a lab in North Carolina after reading a Consumer Reports study, the lab said the SPF 50 lotion had an SPF of just 12.69.
Edgewood Personal Care, the company that owns the parent company of Banana Boat sunscreen, stated that all Banana Boat products are rigorously tested.
“We stand behind the accurate labeling of our products. All Banana Boat products and undergo rigorous internal and independent testing to ensure they meet all relevant FDA regulations, including for their stated levels of SPF protection. People can feel confident using our products for safe and effective sun protection, when applied as directed.”
The Environmental Working Group also issued a caution to parents on their website about sunscreen for kids. They say that parents should be aware that the FDA does not actually set any criteria or extra requirements for sunscreen that is marketed as sunscreen for children.
The FDA has been working towards improving the sunscreen market for consumers. The Administration has information from the sunscreen meetings available online and a comprehensive chart of sunscreen policy information in accordance with the Sunscreen Innovation Act.
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