Is US Sunscreen Unsafe? Maybe, But We'll Get Better, So Please Don't Stop Wearing It

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JUNE 20: Sharon Doyle puts sunscreen on the face of 9-year-old Savannah Stidham as they visit the beach June 20, 2006 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Recent studies have shown that the best way to protect against melanoma from the sun is to use a sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone. People exposed to the sun should look for water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you're not wearing sunscreen when you step outside for more than five minutes at a time, modern science says you're making a rather foolish mistake. However, Racked.com now reports that all sunscreen is not created equal, and not simply because of differing SPF content. Every day it seems, new information comes to light about the negative affects overexposure to sun has on our delicate complexions, from skin damage that hastens aging to the potential for skin cancer, but sunscreen manufactured in the US may not be as potent or protective as those products found in other countries. 

In the United States, sunscreen manufacturing and formulation falls under Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction, in essence making it more time-consuming for companies to update sunscreen ingredients according to scientific breakthroughs. According to Racked, the FDA hasn't allowed any new constituents to be added to sunscreen products in over ten years. The FDA keeps a close eye on the ingredients allowed in sunscreen due to safety concerns, demanding extensive testing of any in case the results suggest negative side effects or unfeasibility.

However, our neighbors in Asia and Europe don't require the same rigorous testing process, and therefore have access to a range of new and improved formulas which may protect against sun damage in a way that US-approved products simply don't. In response to increased concerns over sun safety and the US's antiquated formulas, the Public Access to Sunscreen Coalition has created The Sunscreen Innovation Act, a bill to both accelerate FDA testing and approval of sunscreen ingredients, as well as maintain candor with the public about the process. While the bill has yet to be approved, it would be a boon to US citizens who crave better, modernized products instead of outdated formulas which may not be as beneficial as they are advertised. 

In the meantime, sunscreens made by international companies such as Vichy, La Roche Posay, and L'Oreal contain progressive ingredients which may further protect skin from UV damage, including Mexoryl XL, Bisoctrizole, and Bemotrizinol. As the nation waits on the results of The Sunscreen Innovation Act, it may be best to start mainlining your UV protection from countries abroad. After all, who doesn't love a skincare secret from overseas?

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