The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) provides education and information to help consumers and a variety of stakeholders make informed decisions about sunscreen. Sun protection and sunscreens are critical to preventing skin cancer and premature skin aging. Cosmetics and personal care products companies are proud of the innovative sunscreen products developed to help protect consumers from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Safety and Regulation of Sunscreens
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) sunscreen testing requirements are well recognized by experts and regulatory authorities around the globe. It is important to note that FDA regulates sunscreens as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and requires rigorous testing to ensure safety and effectiveness. All sunscreens in the United States must be tested for SPF performance using the same FDA-designated clinical tests.
Sunscreen Task Force
In collaboration with the Consumer Health Care Products Association (CHPA), PCPC’s Sunscreen Task Force actively reviews current and emerging science, regulations, and standards that may impact sunscreens. The Sunscreen Task Force frequently submits comments to the FDA on various topics such as clinical safety testing requirements, labeling requirements, and other topics of interest. It collaborates with standard-setting organizations to establish viable test methods.
PCPC partners with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA) on the SUNucate program. The program is led by ASDSA in collaboration with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. This public health initiative spreads awareness about the importance of sun-protective behaviors and removes barriers that prohibit access to important sun-protective measures, such as sunscreen and sun-protective clothing.
The initiative’s centerpiece is the SUNucate model legislation, aimed at guaranteeing children have unbarred access to sun protection while at school or camp. Also titled as the Reducing Cancer and Excessive UV Exposure in Children Act (PDF), the model legislation allows students and participants in youth camps to possess and use a topical sunscreen product while on school or camp property or at an event or activity sponsored by the school or camp without a physician’s note or prescription.
This initiative is in response to reports of schools prohibiting students from possessing sunscreen due to its classification as an over-the-counter medication. To date, 26 states have passed SUNucate-related measures with several other states pending action.
In 2017, the Council of State Governments voted to include Utah’s sunscreen in school legislation in its 2019 Shared State Legislation (SSL) Volume. If legislation is included in the SSL, it is shared with state leaders as legislative ideas for their consideration.
Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Legislation in Hawaii
Recent legislation in Hawaii banned two important ingredients — oxybenzone and octinoxate — both approved by FDA for use in sunscreens. PCPC shares Hawaiians’ concern for the environment – particularly the coral reefs – while seeking to provide a variety of safe, high-quality personal care products that meet the needs of today’s diverse consumers.
Science serves as the foundation for everything cosmetics and personal care products companies do. PCPC is very concerned that the law prohibiting Hawaiians’ access to sunscreen products with oxybenzone and octinoxate is based on inadequate scientific studies that do not meet required quality controls used by regulatory bodies worldwide. Further, the conclusions from those studies are contradicted by credible environmental experts who acknowledge that climate change, over-fishing, and sewage runoff cause harm to coral reefs — not sunscreen.
Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides safe and effective broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978.
Octinoxate also plays a critical role in protecting against UVB rays and is essential in many sunscreen formulations because of its properties.
It’s critical to public health that consumers have ample sunscreen options to meet their needs. PCPC and our member companies seek to provide products, education, and information that empower consumers to make informed decisions about the safe use of sunscreen for their families.
- Video Series: What You Need to Know About Sunscreens
- CosmeticsInfo: Sunscreen Frequently Asked Questions
- Public Comments on FDA’s Sunscreen Tentative Final Monograph: June 27, 2019
- Statement by Alex Kowcz, Chief Scientist Personal Care Products Council On Restricting the Use of Sunscreens in Hawaii: July 3, 2018
- Statement by Alexandra Kowcz, Chief Scientist Personal Care Products Council In Response to the Environmental Working Group’s 2018 Guide to Sunscreens: May 31, 2018
- Video: Highlights from the Skin Smart series
- CosmeticsInfo: Sunscreens: How to Read a Label, Expert Tips etc.
- Media Coverage: Chemical Watch: Groups push for changes to US sunscreen ingredient approvals