Sunscreen: FDA regulation, and environmental and health impact
Photoprotection, including the use of sunscreen, has been shown to decrease the development of keratinocyte cancers and melanoma. Due to concerns about the environmental effects of some organic UVR filters, several locations across the world have begun to pass legislation banning the use of these ingredients in sunscreens. Furthermore, the health effects of several organic UVR filters have also been called into question and a recent proposal by the US FDA has resulted in public confusion about the safety of sunscreens. The aim of this article is to discuss FDA regulation of sunscreens and to review the environmental and health effects of oxybenzone and octinoxate. Ultimately, as dermatologists, our recommendations are to continue to encourage people to practice proper photoprotection including photoprotective clothing, staying in the shade while outdoors, and applying sunscreen to exposed areas. For those concerned about the potential environmental and health effects of organic UVR filters, inorganic/mineral UVR filter (namely, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide)-based sunscreens can be used.