News Room

Statement by Beth Lange, PhD, Chief Scientist Personal Care Products Council in Response to the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 Guide to Sunscreens

May 25, 2016

Contact:  Lisa Powers, (202) 466-0489 or Hayley James, (202) 454-0302

Washington, DC – “While the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2016 Guide to Sunscreens helps raise awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, the report also contains inaccuracies that can confuse consumers and be potentially harmful to public health.

“This year’s shopping guide contains little new information from previous years. The claims made by EWG could keep consumers from using sunscreen altogether. Sun protection and sunscreen use are critical to preventing skin cancer and premature skin aging. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation. Daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

“Although the EWG report questions whether UVA rays are screened in U.S. products, broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF 15 and greater must protect against both UVB and UVA radiation.  To achieve high SPF protection values, products have to screen both UVA and UVB radiation.      

“EWG cites inhalation and application concerns with spray sunscreen products, noting that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) requested information on spray sunscreens from manufacturers. The Council and its member companies submitted significant safety and efficacy data to address FDA’s request, and scientists and dermatologists expressed their support of sprays and their desire to allow consumers access to these products. We are confident that FDA ultimately will acknowledge the continued safe use of these products and allow these sprays to remain on the market to provide consumers with additional sunscreen choices.

“Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides effective broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), available peer-reviewed scientific literature, and regulatory assessments from national and international bodies around the world, there is no link between oxybenzone in sunscreen and hormonal alterations or any other significant health issues in humans.

“Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that is sometimes used in sunscreen products as an antioxidant and to enhance skin suppleness. 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation and health care professionals around the world all emphasize the importance of sunscreen use as part of a safe sun regimen. The dangers of sun exposure are clear and universally recognized by public health professionals and dermatologists. The National Institutes of Health Report on Carcinogens identifies solar UV radiation as a ‘known human carcinogen.’ A single bad burn as a child is known to increase the skin’s susceptibility to damage and skin cancer throughout life.

“It is also important to note that the FDA regulates sunscreens as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and requires rigorous testing for sunscreen effectiveness (both SPF and "Broad Spectrum"). Consumers can rest assured that this reliable and credible testing method results in sunscreens that are safe and effective in protecting them from harmful UV rays. FDA's sunscreen testing requirements are well recognized by experts and regulatory authorities in the U.S. as well as globally.  

“Some simple tips for sun safety include:

  • •    Avoiding the sun during the peak hours of 10am-4pm
  • •    Wearing sun protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses
  • •    Using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, even on cloudy days
  • •    Reapplying sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating
  • •    Seeing your health care professional every year for a skin exam

“Our goal is to help consumers make informed decisions and use sunscreen as an important part of an overall safe sun program. Sunscreen is a crucial step in the fight against skin cancer and premature skin aging. As EWG acknowledges, ‘a good sunscreen is one you’re going to use and reapply at least every two hours.’ It is our hope that using sunscreen becomes as much of a habit as using your seatbelt.”  

For more information on the importance of safe sun practices, please watch our Skin Smart educational video series.  For more information on cosmetic and personal care products, please visit  

Based in Washington, DC, 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 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.