Doctors, estheticians and beauty editors have been making the hard sell for sunscreen for years now. It’s the best anti-ager out there, not to mention the only known foil to those ever-more-dangerous UV rays. But there is a downside to sunscreens that we haven’t been so vocal about: Not all sunscreens are created equal.
The reason for the silence comes down to the fact that until very recently, the FDA ingredient "monograph" didn’t require manufacturers to indicate how much UVA protection a particular cream offered. UVA, if you remember, is the more severe, cancer-causing, wrinkle-inducing ultraviolet wavelength. But all that’s changing as new sunscreen labeling goes into effect requiring that when a sunscreen is labeled as “broad spectrum,” it has indeed undergone the correct testing to ensure it contains the right percentages of ingredients to adequately shield skin from UVB and UVA rays.
But, in the midst of all these new guidelines, there have been some casualties along the way.
Take sunscreen sprays, for example. We love them for their speed and convenience. But haven’t you always wondered if they actually spritz on enough protection? Well, the FDA is wondering as well, so they’re questioning the effectiveness of alternative sunscreen forms (other than lotions or creams).
From the FDA: “The agency currently considers sunscreens in the form of oils, creams, lotions, gels, butters, pastes, ointments, sticks and sprays to be eligible for potential inclusion in the OTC sunscreen monograph—meaning that they can be marketed without individual product approvals.”
“Potential” is the operative word here. Those sprays and sticks aren’t out of the woods, but they haven’t been taken off shelves… yet.
However, some consumer favorites didn’t make it: namely, those über-convenient sunscreen wipes that made quick work of application. Wipe and you’re done. “The agency currently considers wipes, towelettes, powders, body washes and shampoo not eligible for the monograph,” states the FDA on their website.
“The regulation on wipes is only in discussion. The FDA is seeking feedback, therefore the ruling is not final,” says Skin Cancer Foundation spokesperson Steven Q. Wang, M.D., Director of Dermatologic Surgery and Dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, N.J., and a member of The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Photobiology Committee.
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