Response to FDA’s Decision to Delay Sunscreen Standards


Sunscreen seems to not only be on Washington’s mind, but industry and research academies’, too. In late May, a group of U.S. Senators, headed up by Jack Reed (D-RI), asked FDA to reverse its decision to delay new sunscreen standards, and enact new standards that will go into effect this summer.

Last June, FDA released new sunscreen labeling guidelines, which hadn’t been updated in more than 30 years. They guidelines were slated to go into effect on June 18, 2012; but FDA said, nah, we’ll give companies another six months to implement these changes.

This group of Senators—Reed, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY)—does not like FDA’s decision. Hence their letter requesting FDA “reverse the recent decision to delay these critical regulations and to do more to ensure that consumers can purchase sunscreen products and products containing sun protection with the knowledge that they meet FDA's enforceable standards."

However, American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) said it agrees with FDA’s deadline extension. “Extending the compliance date allows manufacturers the necessary time to test their products for broad-spectrum protection and properly label them. The Academy joins FDA in encouraging manufacturers to bring products into compliance as soon as possible to help the public make informed choices regarding the most effective sunscreens for prevention of sunburn and skin cancer."

And in a post a few days later, AAD also reiterated the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens to protect against the damaging effects of exposure to UV rays. They also noted nanotechnology’s role in enhancing broad-spectrum protection. “The broad-spectrum sunscreen active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide leave a white residue on the skin following application when used in a larger particle form. However, when these active ingredients are converted into nanoparticles—smaller, lighter molecules—they appear to vanish on the skin, do not leave a residue, and retain and enhance their ability to block UVA and UVB light."

Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy, added: “While widespread use of nanotechnology in medicine is currently under evaluation, one of the main benefits of nanoparticles in sunscreens is that the small molecules can provide more protection and more even coverage on the skin’s surface than larger particles. Considerable research on the use of nanoparticles on healthy, undamaged skin has shown the stratum corneum is an effective barrier to preventing the entry of nanoparticles into the deeper layers of the skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have a long history of safe use in sunscreens and offer good options for broad-spectrum UV protection." 

What are your thoughts? Are you with the Senators or AAD? Do you like the use of nanotechnology in sunscreens and other cosmetic products? Do you find nanoparticles easier to work with?