Statement by Alexandra Kowcz, Chief Scientist, Personal Care Products Council, in Response to the Environmental Working Group’s 2022 Sunscreens Guide



Lisa Powers,, (202) 297-1232
Stefanie Harrington,, (202) 615-6558

Washington, D.C. – “Sunscreens on the market today are backed by decades of scientific research and safe use to help adults and children guard against the dangers of excessive sun exposure. The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) and its member companies are aligned with health professionals and organizations worldwide – including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General, American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), American Cancer Society and Skin Cancer Foundation – about the essential public health benefits of sunscreens. As part of a daily safe-sun regimen, sunscreen products help prevent sunburn and reduce skin cancer risk. It is unfortunate that as Americans spend more time outdoors, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2022 Guide to Sunscreens resorts to fearmongering with misleading information that could keep consumers from using sunscreens altogether.

“The cosmetics and personal care product industry is proud of the innovative sunscreen products we provide to help protect consumers from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunscreen use is a crucial and well-recognized step in the fight against skin cancer and premature aging. It is important to note that the FDA regulates all sunscreen products in today’s marketplace as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

“EWG’s 2022 shopping guide contains little new information compared to previous reports. For example, this report claims that sunscreens containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both as active ingredients are better for consumers and implies a conclusion that the FDA did not reach. EWG suggests sunscreen products containing other active ingredients may be harmful. The FDA rejects this characterization and has publicly stated that Americans should continue to use sunscreens. Ensuring consumers have access to sunscreen products containing a wide variety of sunscreen active ingredients is an important contribution to the FDA’s public health mission. 

“Working with our industry, the FDA requested additional data for certain sunscreen ingredients currently used in products worldwide to further evaluate their status as generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE). Importantly, sunscreens made with these ingredients are not considered unsafe by the FDA and will remain on the market to be used as part of consumers sun-safe practices while additional data are collected. The FDA specifically noted, ‘Sun safety is important for everyone, regardless of your skin tone. Americans can reduce risks from sun exposure with continued use of sun protection measures including broad spectrum sunscreen.’ Ultimately, having a range of safe and effective sunscreen active ingredients allows manufacturers to formulate safe and effective products that meet the differing needs and preferences of individuals and their families, while providing necessary protection against the damaging effects of the sun. 

“EWG further claims that most sunscreen products on the market today offer inferior broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation. The FDA requires rigorous testing for sunscreen effectiveness (both Sun Protection Factor [SPF] and Broad Spectrum). Broad-spectrum sunscreens must protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Consumers can be confident that these reliable and credible testing methods, which are well recognized by scientific experts and regulatory authorities worldwide, result in sunscreens that are safe and effective. EWG’s methods have not been subject to scrutiny or approval by any scientific or regulatory agency.

“Unjustly criticized by EWG every year, oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides safe and effective broad-spectrum protection and has been approved and safely used since 1978. Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, China, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan and Brazil have also approved it. Oxybenzone protects against UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply into the skin and are scientifically proven to contribute to skin cancer. AAD notes that available peer-reviewed scientific literature and current regulatory assessments from national and international bodies show there is no causal link between oxybenzone use in sunscreens and health issues in humans.

“Skin cancer is a significant and largely preventable public health concern. Our industry’s goal continues to be to help consumers make informed decisions and use sunscreen as an important part of an overall safe-sun program as recommended by numerous nonprofit and government organizations to prevent skin cancer. The CDC’s Sun Safety recommendations note the importance of daily sunscreen use, including on cloudy and overcast days, to help prevent most skin cancers. The National Toxicology Program identifies solar UV radiation as a ‘known human carcinogen.’ A single bad burn as a child increases the skin’s susceptibility to damage and skin cancer throughout life.

“Some simple tips for sun safety include:

  • Avoiding the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Wearing sun-protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses
  • Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 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

“We hope that using sunscreen becomes as much of a habit as using your seat belt. For more information about cosmetics and personal care products companies, products and their ingredients, please visit”


Founded in 1894, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) is the voice and advocate for 600 member companies representing the $484.1 billion global cosmetics and personal care products industry. PCPC’s members represent approximately 90% of the U.S. beauty industry and are some of the most beloved and trusted brands in beauty and personal care today. As the manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of a diverse range of products millions of consumers rely on every day – from sunscreens, toothpaste and shampoo to moisturizer, makeup and fragrance – PCPC’s member companies are global leaders committed to product safety, quality and innovation. For more information on cosmetics and personal care products and their ingredients, please visit