Sunscreens don’t provide adequate safety and efficacy, says EWG

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ewg Ultraviolet Sunscreen

While UVA protection in sunscreens has improved significantly in the last year, only a small number of products provide overall adequate safety and protection, according to interest group the EWG.

The Washington-based Environmental Working Group published its annual report on sunscreens last week and conclusions were mixed.

UVA protection up on last year

According to the report, the number of products containing strong UVA filters has more than doubled since last year’s report, from 29 to 70 percent, including a number of new launches and some reformulations.

However, even with this improvement the EWG said only 5 percent of the 1,572 products tested fitted the group’s safety and efficacy requirements.

These requirements include good UVA and UVB protection, the use of filters and active ingredients that are stable when exposed to UV light and the avoidance of ingredients that may have associated safety concerns.

EWG also criticized the FDA for failing to set mandatory sunscreen safety standards such as the UVA protection star rating system that has been under discussion for some time.

In addition, the group calls for the FDA to approve a number of safe and effective filters that are used in Europe but have not yet been approved in the US.

“FDA sorely needs to streamline and modernize its sunscreen review process to give consumers access to the best products possible,” ​said the EWG in the report.

“The FDA may not care about the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen products, but the public does. EWG’s guide is really the only place concerned consumers can go to identify which sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers are the safest, most protective for themselves and their families,”​ said EWG’s vice president of research Jane Houlihan.

However, the US cosmetics trade association the Personal Care Products Council has taken issue with the report.

Views conflict with international regulatory bodies

According to the PCPC, the allegations made in the report conflict with views held by the FDA and regulatory bodies in the European Union and Canada.

In particular, the PCPC has taken issue with the group’s claims that the UV filter oxybenzone is not safe.

EWG refers to the ingredient as a hormone disruptor and applauds the 19 percent drop in its use since last year, saying it signifies ‘the industry’s shift to safer ingredients’.

“However, oxybenzone is approved by the FDA, the European Union, and Canada as a safe and effective sunscreen ingredient. It has also been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel…”​ said the PCPC.

Related topics Formulation & Science

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