Jun 1, 2018
Sunscreen in the States
Applying sunscreen is an essential part of a safe sun exposure regimen. Sunscreen helps protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancer. Using sunscreen with a broad-spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) can prevent most UV rays from damaging the skin and that is why use of broad spectrum sunscreen is highly recommended by dermatologists and cancer prevention organizations alike.
Some states and localities have attempted to restrict access to sunscreen — particularly those that utilize specific sunscreen ingredients — due to concerns about sunscreen’s impact on the environment.
While a small select group have raised concerns about certain sunscreen ingredients, banning or restricting common UV filters could negatively impact public health. Sunscreen use is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, American Academy of Dermatology, and other experts as part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. Limiting sunscreen options could discourage daily use, leading to increased sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancer risk. Currently, no studies directly link FDA-approved sunscreen active ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate to human health harms when used properly.
A sunscreen ban may especially reduce use among vulnerable populations including children, outdoor workers, and people with photosensitivities. Given the well-documented benefits of broad-spectrum sunscreen use for skin cancer prevention, most dermatologists and public health organizations oppose restrictions that could disincentivize daily application. A lack of sun-safe behaviors already contributes to rising melanoma rates nationwide. Further limiting sunscreen access could potentially worsen this significant public health threat.