News Room

Statement by Farah Ahmed, Chair Personal Care Products Council Sunscreen Task Force Response to the 2012 EWG False Allegations Regarding Sunscreen

May 24, 2012

CONTACT: Lisa Powers, (202) 466-0489

“Consumers can be confident that sunscreen products in stores today – regardless of whether they bear the pre or post FDA sunscreen final rule compliant label – when used as part of an overall safe sun regimen, are safe and help protect against skin cancer, premature skin aging, and other damaging effects of the sun.

“The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) latest effort to pressure retailers to remove sunscreens from store shelves will create a shortage of products, which would clearly result in putting consumers at risk and undermining public health.  The dangers of the sun and the importance of daily sunscreen use is strongly supported by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation, and other recognized health advocates.  In fact, even EWG acknowledges that consumers should use sunscreen.   Furthermore, removing safe and effective sunscreens currently on the market would create significant and unnecessary economic and environmental waste.

“In August 2011, the Council requested FDA to extend the compliance date for its final sunscreen rule out of a serious concern for a potential shortage of sunscreens on the market because industry was unable to complete transitioning their product labeling before the deadline.  Echoing the same concern, FDA provided an additional six months for industry to implement the new rule.  The final sunscreen rule requires that any product labeled on or after the compliance date meet the requirements of the rule.  In other words, older products can remain on the market and when sold-out be replaced by products with the new label.   This further validates that sunscreens with both new and old labels are safe and effective.

“Consumers should know that we are not aware of any companies that are reformulating to meet the new final sunscreen rule.  For example, a product labeled as “SPF 30” and “protects against UVA rays” would be labeled “SPF 30” and “Broad Spectrum” according to the new final rule.

“Regarding claims such as “sunblock” (vs. sunscreen), “sweatproof” (vs. “sweat resistant”), and “waterproof” (vs. “water resistant”), EWG has provided no reliable data or information to support that consumers have been misled by these terms in any way, and they falsely assert that FDA has considered these terms false and misleading since 1990.  In fact, these terms were created by FDA and were part of FDA's original sunscreen rulemaking.   FDA has been reconsidering these terms, allowing companies flexibility and choice regarding use of these terms in the interim.  With the final sunscreen rule, we now know which terms the agency has chosen, but the performance of the products remain the same whether they are "sunscreens" or "sunblocks", or "waterproof" vs. "water resistant 80 minutes".

“The dangers of the sun are clear and widely recognized by scientists and dermatologists. The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health identify solar UV radiation as a carcinogen.  A single bad burn as a child increases the skin’s susceptibility to damage and skin cancer throughout life.  Consumers can be confident that sunscreen products when used as part of an overall safe sun regimen are safe and will help protect them from skin cancer, premature skin aging, and other damaging effects of the sun.

“For more information about the safety and efficacy of sunscreens, please visit or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website at:”

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Based in Washington, D.C., the Personal Care Products Council is the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. Founded in 1894, the Council's more than 600 member companies manufacture, distribute, and supply the vast majority of finished personal care products marketed in the U.S. As the makers of a diverse range of products millions of consumers rely on every day, from sunscreens, toothpaste and shampoo to moisturizer, lipstick and fragrance, personal care products companies are global leaders committed to product safety, quality and innovation.