The Environmental Working Group has updated its annual guide on suncare products—and suncare industry stakeholders at the Personal Care Product Council (PCPC) are taking the group to task about “false and misleading statements about sunscreen products and their ingredients.”
“This year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its annual sunscreen report along with a sun safety campaign. While there are several points in the campaign that we agree with – mainly, “[o]ur hope is that sun protection will become as much of a habit as putting on your seatbelt,” we are disappointed that, despite the extensive and growing body of credible science demonstrating the safety, efficacy and health benefits of sunscreens, EWG continues to make false and misleading statements about sunscreen products and their ingredients,” said said Farah Ahmed, chair of the Sunscreen Comittee at PCPC, in a statement. “Once again, EWG does not use formal, expert scientific evaluation in its report, and the report is not peer-reviewed. These confusing, unsubstantiated claims could actually discourage people from using sunscreen, putting themselves and their children at risk.”
According to Ahmed, “the EWG campaign raises false concerns about the safety of sunscreen sprays and powders. In its proposed rule, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) simply requested further information on the unique spray dosage form and proposed a few labeling changes. The Council and its member companies submitted significant data to address the Agency’s request. Scientists and dermatologists have expressed their support of sprays and powders and their desire to allow consumers access to these products. Until FDA makes its final decision, these sprays and powders can remain on the market and provide consumers with additional sunscreen choices.
PCPC also takes issue iwth EWG’s spin on moisturizers with SPF, high SPFs and key ingredients in the category.
“Any product labeled with an SPF – whether a beach sunscreen, daily moisturizer, foundation, lip gloss, etc. – must meet the same rigorous SPF and “Broad Spectrum” testing and labeling requirements required by FDD. EWG states that moisturizers (and other makeup) with sun protection factor (SPF) are somehow less effective. This is untrue and makes no sense. Providing a wide variety of sunscreen options is an effective way to encourage its daily use,” said Ahmed.
She added, “EWG’s super-high SPF discussion is completely inaccurate. In fact, their lack of basic understanding of SPF is demonstrated in their assertion that SPF refers only to UVB protection.”
Ahmed called attention to “comprehensive and robust” global safety profile for oxybenzone and said that EWG’s information on retinyl palmitate, or vitamin A contradicts scientific consensus.
This year's report is EWG’s 8th annual guide to sunscreens, which offers consumers a searchable online database.
According to EWG, two-thirds of the sunscreens analyzed by EWG researchers either don’t work well enough or contain ingredients that may be toxic, including vitamin A and oxybenzone. Further, EWG claimed that only one in four daily moisturizers containing SPF offer strong and lasting protection from the sun. In addition, EWG says Food and Drug Administration’s regulations on sunscreen are weak, allowing manufacturers to use confusing and inaccurate marketing claims.
In the report, EWG also recommends avoiding is spray sunscreen.
“Clearly, the FDA’s regulations on sunscreens are doing little to stem the tide of poorly-made products, and that could have serious effects on Americans’ health,” said Sonya Lunder, senior research analust at EWG. “Since we started this project eight years ago, we’ve seen few improvements in the safety or efficacy of sunscreens sold by mass-marketed brands.”
The EWG said it found more zinc- and titanium- based mineral sunscreens that offer stable," lasting protecting from UV rays without penetrating the skin."
Where PCPC and EWG agree comes in making sun protection a no brainer.
For the first time, EWG has launched a Sun Safety public education campaign in partnership with dermatologists and sunscreen companies. The campaign aims to make sun safety as essential as seat belts, according to EWG.