In response to a study on sunscreen products by Consumer Reports, U.S Senator Chuck Schumer has called on the FDA to launch an investigation into findings of false Sun Protective Factor (SPF) labeling on numerous sunscreen brands. The study, which was released in May, showed that 48% of the 60 sunscreen products that Consumer Reports investigated provided a level of SPF below what was listed on the label.
SPF is a measure of how well a sun protection product like a lotion or spray can protect against the sun’s harmful rays. The SPF label on a product is relied on by consumers to know how well a product can help mitigate the effects of sun exposure like wrinkles, skin blemishes, melasma, or skin cancer risk. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports found that, for the fourth year in a row during its annual sunscreen test, almost half of sampled products don’t live up to their promises.
Even worse, three of the sunscreen products tested this year had a true SPF of under 15. Since an SPF of 30 is the minimum protection recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, it meant anyone using the products in question was being left in a vulnerable position. Over the last four years of testing by Consumer Reports, roughly a third of products measured below 30 SPF.
Senator Schumer is urging the FDA to take a more active role in ensuring sunscreen products provide the promised protections. He also points out that the agency has been extremely slow in its evaluation of newer, more effective sunscreen ingredients that could improve SPF, but have remained under scrutiny for over a decade. While Schumer acknowledges the importance of consumer safety, he also emphasizes that some of the ingredients and sunscreen products the FDA has been so slow to act on have been tested and sold overseas for over 20 years, suggesting that the agency’s rules should get finalized sooner rather than later.
“Get the Best Sun Protection,” Consumer Reports web site, May 17, 2016; http://www.consumerreports.org/sunscreens/get-the-best-sun-protection/, last accessed July 22, 2016.