The beauty industry is perpetually trying to one-up itself with new formulas and product innovations, but according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there's one kind of product that consumers should steer clear of: sunscreen pills.
In a press release published on Tuesday and written by FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., the FDA announced that it sent warning letters to four companies for illegally marketing dietary supplements that claim they can protect consumers from the dangers of sun exposure. The FDA chastised the four products — GliSODin Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Napa Valley Bioscience Sunsafe Rx, Solaricare, and Sunergetic — for "putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun, or protect from the risks of skin cancer."
The FDA is 100-percent clear about its stance on sunscreen pills: "There's no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen." The companies are now required to re-frame marketing and product labelling. They may now opt to follow the model of Heliocare, a dietary supplement that has consistently recommended customers use a topical sunscreen in addition to the supplement.
In lieu of any trendy supplements, the FDA reminds consumers to stick to tried-and-true topical sunscreen formulations in lotions, creams, sprays, and sticks. Not sure which to choose among all the sunscreen options? Consumer Reports recently released its annual sunscreen guide, giving La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk a perfect score for the fourth year in a row. The SPF 60 sunscreen was rated "excellent" in categories like everyday use, active ingredients, and UVA and UVB protection.
The FDA also has general guidelines for sunscreen use. The agency recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, applied at least 30 minutes before going outside, and reapplied at least every two hours, especially if you go in the water.
The agency also restated its commitment to sunscreen research and innovation in the announcement. "When sunscreens first came on the U.S. market, sunscreen active ingredients were not thought to penetrate the skin,” Gottlieb wrote. “We now have evidence that it’s possible for some sunscreen active ingredients to be absorbed through the skin." The keywords are through the skin — not ingested, as the manufacturers of sunscreen pills previously claimed.
Remember: If a new product sounds too good to be true, that's probably because it is. We'll all just have to apply our sunscreen the old-fashioned way: topically.
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