Sunscreen SPF labeling may be unreliable

Maytinee Kramer/Staff writer


It’s hot and everyone wants to hit the beach for the cool ocean waves and sun’s warm rays. Sunshine is great, but its rays? Not so much. Both UVA and UVB rays pose serious health risks, such as premature aging, eye damage and skin cancer. While the skincare industry has significantly advanced in creating sun-protective products over the years, a new study by researchers at Consumer Reports shows that nearly half of sunscreen products in the U.S. had less than the SPF it promised. This makes us wonder exactly how safe the products currently on the shelves really are.

This year, Consumer Reports researchers tested and rated more than 60 lotions, sprays and sticks with SPF claims of 30 or higher — 30 being the minimum level recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. However, 43 percent failed to meet the SPF claim on the label and some even showed an SPF of less than 15, falling extremely short from their labels.

This means that many sunscreens are leaving people vulnerable to sunburn and other possible skin damage.

In addition, the Food and Drug administration does not routinely test sunscreens; it requires the manufacturers to test their products. Even then, the companies are not mandated to submit their results.

Patricia Calvo, the deputy content editor for health and food at Consumer Reports recommends that you look for a “chemical sunscreen that is at least SPF 40 because that will give you the best chance of getting SPF 30.” This is because the research showed that sunscreens with chemical active ingredients, such as avobenzone and ecamsule, performed better than those with “natural” or mineral active ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

There are two main types of sunscreen, those made with chemical filters and those made with mineral filters. Mineral sunscreen is often referred to as natural sunscreen because it contains only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both as active ingredients to deflect the sun’s UV rays.

On the other hand, chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays and contains active ingredients such as avobenzone, ecamsule, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate and oxybenzone.

While there are pros and cons of both types of sunscreens, the most important thing to remember is that it is up to the consumer to make informed decisions in the sunscreen aisle. Yoobin Lee, a sophomore majoring in Education, frequently washes her face and applies moisturizer to maintain healthy skin.

“I don’t use sunscreen unless I wear makeup and it’s within the BB cream. Plus, I only wear makeup once a week. I use SPF 50 since it’s part of the BB cream,” Lee said to Student Media.
Truth be told, the most effective sunscreen is the one you end up wearing. In the meantime though, Panthers should be aware that sunscreen isn’t the only defense. In addition to properly applying and reapplying sunscreen, avoid being outside during the sun’s strongest times, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear the proper cover ups, broad-rimmed hats and sunglasses.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community


Image by Alisha Vargas, retrieved from FLickr:

About the Author

Maytinee Kramer
Call me May. I’m a senior double majoring in Asian studies and broadcast media and minoring in international relations. I’m a K-pop and Disney junkie, but I also enjoy watching anime and cosplaying. Some of my favorite shows are “Once Upon a Time,” “Supernatural,” and “Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma” while my favorite music artists are 2PM, GOT7, DEAN and Eddy Kim. After college, I hope to work as a news anchor, but I’d eventually like to host a show/segment that focuses on traveling. I am fluent in Thai and currently learning Japanese and Korean.

Be the first to comment on "Sunscreen SPF labeling may be unreliable"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.