Why consumers should be careful when buying sunscreen

In our last post, we discussed several ways that our readers can better ensure that they remain safe while having fun this summer. One key ingredient for a safe summer that we have yet to mention is sunscreen. Failure to liberally apply sunscreen when you are out of doors can lead to otherwise preventable burns and a heightened risk of developing skin cancer.

It is therefore important to have a bottle of sunscreen at the ready any time you venture out of doors for more than a few moments during the summer months. It is worth noting that harmful UV rays can even penetrate dense Washington cloud cover. However, not all sunscreens are created equal and not all sunscreens will properly protect you from these rays.

You may be asking, “If certain sunscreens are ineffective, why are they not recalled as defective products?” This is an excellent question. The short answer is that while the Food and Drug Administration does have regulations in place in regards to sunscreen manufacturing, these regulations are sparse and very loosely enforced.

According to Consumer Reports, the FDA does not require sunscreen manufacturers to do premarket testing, the FDA does not verify the testing that manufacturers do engage in and sunscreen manufacturers are not required to report their testing results to the FDA or any other federal agency.

It is therefore important that before stocking up on sunscreen this summer, consumers should research the effectiveness of various sunscreen brands. Numerous publications have done such testing and the results should not be too difficult to find.

Source: Consumer Reports, “FDA needs to strengthen safety standards for sunscreen,” May 23, 2014