Almost half of highly rated sunscreens do not meet AAD guidelines
Most effective absorbers and nicest fragrances do not adhere to American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) guidelines
Regulating skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most effective way to reduce the risk for all skin cancer types, and the ADD (The American Academy) recommend protecting skin with daily use of a sunscreen over SPF 30 that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Consumer reviews on websites such as Amazon can often give a good insights into a product. However, results from an article published online by JAMA Dermatology questions if sometimes consumer reviews can do more harm than good.
Shuai Xu, MD, MSc, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, and co-authors searched the keyword “sunscreens” on the US retailer Amazon.com in December 2015.
The team then selected the top one 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 categorised as “sunscreens,” the top 65 were chosen for analysis.
For those top 65 sunscreens, Xu and colleagues looked at how well they met American Academy of Dermatology minimum recommendations —that they are at least SPF 30, broad spectrum and resistant to water and sweat—and were surprised to find that 40 percent of these popular sunscreens were deemed insufficient.
A total of 40% of the highest rated sunscreens on Amazon.com did not adhere to AAD guidelines, mostly due to lack of water and sweat resistance.
The study also found that the price of sunscreen varied greatly—from 68 cents an ounce to $23.47 —but that price wasn’t related to SPF number. Sunscreens that were water-resistant tended to be more pricey, and creams were more expensive than lotions, and lotions more than sprays.
The article suggests that “Dermatologists should balance the importance of cosmetic elegance, cost, and AAD guidelines for sun protection in making their recommendations to consumers.”
Most of the products analysed claimed additional product features in addition to sun protection. The authors note that consumers should be advised that labels such as ‘safe for sensitive skin,’ ‘preservative free,’ or “noncomedogenic” are marketing mechanisms and are not performance standards, such as SPF, that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Dermatologists should counsel patients that sunscreen products come with numerous marketing claims and varying cosmetic applicability, all of which must be balanced with adequate photoprotection,” the study concludes.