News Room

The Personal Care Products Council and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Released the Following Statement in Response to a JAMA Report, “Sunscreen Product Performance and Other Determinants of Consumer Preference”

July 6, 2016

CONTACT:  PCPC - Hayley James (202) 454-0302; CHPA -Jenni Roberson (202) 429-9260

Washington, D.C. – “The recent JAMA publication, “Sunscreen Product Performance and Other Determinants of Consumer Preference” examines the attributes that drive consumer purchase preference as well as assesses these products against the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) guidelines.  

“It is important to note that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sunscreens as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and requires rigorous testing for sunscreen effectiveness (both SPF and "Broad Spectrum").  Perhaps more importantly, effective sunscreens are not required to share identical attributes.  Sunscreens may have different levels of SPF, may be water resistant or not, and may or may not have additional cosmetics benefits.   What is clear is that consumers can rest assured that there are reliable and credible testing methods to assure that sunscreens are safe and effective in protecting them from harmful UV rays, and that there are a variety of products available to meet their needs. FDA’s sunscreen testing requirements are well-recognized by experts and regulatory authorities in the U.S. as well as globally. 

“In the JAMA article, the conclusion that a significant portion of the highly rated sunscreen products did not meet the AAD criteria was largely based on these products not providing water resistance benefits.  This is not an important finding since not all effective sunscreens must be water resistant.  Many consumers looking for a daily use product may prefer sunscreens without this attribute, and it is not critical for the sunscreen to be effective.  We believe that consumer choice is critical in the variety of sunscreens, as this helps assure that these products will be used.  

“Consumers should not take these results to mean products are not effective as claimed; water resistance is an important benefit for sport or beach products to maintain protection during sweating or water activities.  However, as noted in the article, previous studies show that a large portion of sunscreen products are promoted as cosmetics or moisturizers, and as such, they would not contain water resistance ingredients as they are designed primarily for daily, low activity use.   Consumers should look for label statements that meet their needs, water/sweat resistance, moisturizing, etc.  Compliance is a large concern and having a wide product offering, for multiple usage needs, is important to allow consumers to find a sunscreen appropriate for their needs.  

“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.  A sunscreen not used, is not an effective sunscreen, and a good sunscreen is one people will use and reapply.”

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 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. For more information on cosmetic and personal care products, please visit

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 135-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering consumer self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products.