Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Debate Continues: More on the Sunscreen Controversy July 8, 2010

The New York Times  just published an online debate about the sunscreen controversy.*  Actually it isn’t even much of a debate since all the experts seem to pretty much agree on a few major points when it comes to sunscreen. 

 In a section of the online paper called Room for Debate – A Running Commentary on the News in an article entitled What We Still Don’t Know About Sunscreens five experts weigh in on some of the most pressing sunscreen topics:  the need for new FDA regulations in regards to sunscreen, the fact that the FDA needs to approve more sunscreen ingredients, if Vitamin A in sunscreens is harmful, the need for both proper UVA and UVB protection in sunscreens, and the need for continued research into effective sunscreen formulations.

The experts who give their opinions are:

  • Darrell S. Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology
  • Sonya Lunder, Environmental Working Group
  • Michael K. Hansen, Consumers Union
  • Kerry Hanson, chemist, University of California, Riverside
  • Lenora Felderman, dermatologist

    All the experts agree that the FDA needs to step up their game when it comes to sunscreens.  The FDA has been dragging their feet about both approving new sunscreen ingredients (for example “In the U.S., there are 17 approved sunscreen agents, Europe has 28, and Japan has more than 40”) and about requiring sunscreen manufacturers to test their sunscreens for UVA protection and to inform consumers about the amount of that protection in their product.

    Obviously the contributor to the debate from the EWG is going to have many issues with almost all the commercial sunscreens on the market, but I was surprised to find that other experts agreed with her on certain points including the need for more research on the use of Vitamin A in sunscreens and its link to cancer.  One commentator even brought up the issue of nanoparticles. 

    Two issues came through loud and clear in this debate.  One is the need for the FDA to approve more sunscreen ingredients.  The second issue is the need for the FDA to approve new regulations and testing criteria for sunscreens before they enter the market place.   I think consumers would be better protected from sun exposure if the FDA would move forward quickly with both those issues.

    *  I’ve covered this topic before in this blog.  Please see my earlier post: Sunscreen Woes


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