Half of Sunscreens Don’t Meet Guidelines

Half of Sunscreens Don’t Meet GuidelinesHalf of Sunscreens Don’t Meet Guidelines

New research finds that while consumers rate sunscreens that absorb well and smell nice most highly, many of these products do not adhere to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) guidelines.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancer types. The AAD recommends that to be protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays, a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays - that is, SPF 30 or higher and water-resistant - should be used every day.

Consumer reviews on websites can sometimes give a good indication of the quality and reliability of a product. However, results from an article published online by JAMA Dermatology questions if sometimes consumer reviews can do more harm than good, reports

Shuai Xu, M.D, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, and co-authors searched the keyword “sunscreens” on the US retailer in December 2015.

The team selected the top 1 percentile of sunscreen products according to an average consumer review of four stars or greater. They also collected descriptive data including SPF strength, price, and active ingredients, in addition to the top five most helpful and critical comments for each product.

Of the 6,500 products that were categorized as “sunscreens,” the top 65 were chosen for analysis.

The sunscreen products had a median price of $3.32 an ounce and a median SPF of 35, with 89% of sunscreens being SPF 30 or higher and 92% claimed to be broad-spectrum and 62% were labeled as water or sweat resistant. Creams were the most common sunscreen vehicle, followed by lotions and sprays.

A total of 40% of the highest rated sunscreens on did not adhere to AAD guidelines, mostly due to lack of water and sweat resistance.

Consumers identified positive and negative features of a sunscreen product most commonly by cosmetic elegance attributes, such as “absorbs well,” “nice smell,” “too thick,” “greasy,” rather than how effectively the sunscreen product performed.

The article said, “Dermatologists should balance the importance of cosmetic elegance, cost, and AAD guidelines for sun protection in making their recommendations to consumers. They should counsel patients that sunscreen products come with numerous marketing claims and varying cosmetic applicability, all of which must be balanced with adequate photoprotection.”