in the US is regulated by the FDA, yet
American sunscreens may not be protecting us as much as the ones
you can find in other countries.
- Out of 20 best-selling US
sunscreens, nine of them didn’t meet European
- In the video above, dermatologist
Dr. Seemal Desai explains what to look for in a sunscreen that
protects against skin
cancer-causing UVA rays.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: In 2017, researchers tested 20
best-selling US sunscreens. The good news is that 19 of them met
FDA standards. The bad news? Nine of them didn’t meet European
standards. Turns out, different countries have different rules for
what makes a safe sunscreen and US sunscreens may not be protecting
Americans as well as it could. When we lay in the sun, our skin
absorbs two types of UV light. UVA and UVB rays. UVB light is
higher energy and can cause sunburns while UVA penetrates deeper
under the skin and can damage skin cells along the bottom layer of
Desai: We know that UVB rays are the rays that
cause sunburns. But UVA rays are the rays that can actually cause
skin cancer so you actually wanna cover the spectrum on both of
those. I think a lot of people get into a misconception that I
didn’t get sunburned so I’m not at prone to getting skin cancer
which really isn’t true.
Narrator: The biggest concern with US sunscreen
is how much protection you’re getting from cancer-causing UVA rays.
For decades, FDA regulations required that sunscreens protect
against UVB, but not necessarily against UVA. Meanwhile, rates for
melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, kept climbing in the US.
Then, in 2012, the FDA updated its regulations on labeling and
testing so that manufacturers must now let customers know if its
sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA. That’s what the broad
spectrum label on your sunscreen means, for example. And while this
is a good first step, there’s still no regulation on how much
protection you’re getting from UVA. So, there’s no way to tell.
Desai: Here in the United States, I think we
need to be cognizant of the fact that when a sunscreen says it’s
broad spectrum, UVA- and UVB-protecting, that does mean you’re
going to get protection against those rays. However, what it does
not mean is that it’s going to block out all of the rays.
Narrator: And that’s where US sunscreens fall
Desai: And I will say that I do think we are
behind other countries globally, particularly some of our European
counterparts, in getting new sunscreen ingredients approved.
Overall, there has not been much change in US sunscreen composition
and what our sunscreens are made up of in the past several
Narrator: The FDA has approved 16 active
ingredients that protect against UV radiation. But only some
protect against both UVB and UVA rays. For comparison, Europe
requires that all of its more than 20 active ingredients protect
Desai: Right now, the American Academy of
Dermatology and other organizations are really advocating with the
FDA that they need to really speed up the approval process for new
sunscreen ingredients. Because it’s with these ingredients that we
can probably get even better coverage and better protection and
maybe even get something that’s easier to apply, that’s easier on
the skin, that doesn’t have any harmful side effects for
Narrator: You can purchase sunscreens from
other countries online. But if you plan on sticking with American
sunscreens, look for the broad spectrum label and don’t buy
anything below SPF 30.
Desai: The higher the SPF, definitely the
better. But we definitely don’t want anyone going below a 30. And
think about if you’re someone who has a history of a melanoma, if
you use an SPF 30, you’re blocking out let’s say 98% of the harmful
rays. However, what about the remaining 2%? That 2% may be
something that could be potential of putting you at a risk down the
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in November
Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
Why American sunscreens may not be protecting you as much as