Published on May 15, 2012
Despite recent claims about sunscreen safety, consumers should rest assured that sunscreen products, and specifically the ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, are safe and effective when used as directed. Claims that these ingredients are unsafe are based on questionable science that is not properly reviewed by experts in the field of photomedicine. Though using sunscreen is a vital sun safety strategy, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended a complete sun protection regimen that includes not only sunscreen use, but also seeking shade, covering up with clothing including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Furthermore, years of scientific research have provided compelling evidence that the daily use of sunscreen helps lower the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers. Most recently, in a rigorous study of more than 1,600 adults over the course of a decade, researchers determined that subjects applying sunscreen with an SPF of 16 daily reduced their risk of melanoma by 50 percent.
When shopping for sunscreen, consumers should look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, which is awarded to sun protective products that meet stringent criteria for safety and effectiveness. The Foundation’s volunteer Photobiology Committee – dermatologists with specialized knowledge on how the sun affects skin – review test results of all products which apply for the Seal of Recommendation. The Foundation requires that testing be done on human subjects; it is the only non-governmental organization which reviews scientific testing results for sunscreens.