MONDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Few facial skin creams that
promise "broad-spectrum" sun protection actually measure up,
according to new research.
Dermatologists evaluated 29 top-selling daytime moisturizers
claiming to provide broad-spectrum protection from the sun's
ultraviolet rays and found only a few offered reliable protection
from harmful UV-A rays, which can penetrate glass.
"The vast majority of the products out there don't seem to provide adequate UV-A protection," said study leader Dr. Steven Wang, director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, N.J.
Most of the creams "don't contain the right combination of
ingredients, and they don't contain the adequate concentration of
ingredients," he said.
The study results are reported in a letter published online Jan.
Archives of Dermatology.
Broad-spectrum UV coverage means the product shields users from
UV-A and UV-B exposure, both of which contribute to premature skin
aging and skin cancer.
Testing was needed, Wang said, because the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration doesn't regulate UV-A protection in sunscreen
The sun protection factor (SPF) printed on sunscreen containers
refers to how well products protect against UV-B rays, which do not
Regulations to set UV-A ratings have been pending for years, and
the lag is unfortunate, because protection from both sources of
ultraviolet rays is crucial, Wang and other experts say.
Many women apply an SPF-rated facial cream as their only
sunscreen source, believing that if it says broad-spectrum they
have complete protection, Wang said. But those who spend most of
their day indoors may be exposed to harmful UV-A rays that pass
through office and car windows.
According to product labels, the SPFs of the creams studied
ranged from 15 to 50. Prices climbed from $3 to $64 an ounce.
The researchers compared the ingredients and the concentration
of ingredients with their criteria for adequate UV-A protection.
For effective coverage, they said products should contain a
combination of more than 2 percent avobenzone and more than 3.6
percent octocrylene with or without ecamsule at 2 percent and/or
zinc oxide at more than 5 percent. (A concentration of 7 percent to
10 percent octocrylene is actually better, Wang said.)
''Three or four passed" their test, he said.
Six products, including the most expensive one, contained no
active ingredients for shielding UV-A, the authors noted, pointing
out that price is not an indicator of protection.
The study received no manufacturer funding, and Wang did not
disclose brand names in his report. Previously, he has received
research funding from L'Oreal, a sunscreen maker.
The concern over the lack of adequate UV-A protection is
justified, said David Andrews, senior scientist at the
Environmental Working Group (EWG), which evaluates sunscreens
regularly and posts the results.
"We completely agree with the concern raised on the lack of UV-A protection in face cream moisturizers," said Andrews, who reviewed the study but was not involved in it.
EWG and other environmental-health advocates have urged the FDA
to finalize regulations for UV-A coverage. In 2007, changes were
proposed for sunscreen labels, with a rating system suggested to
denote UV-A coverage, but the proposed changes haven't been
finalized. The current regulations date to 1978.
Until tighter government regulations spell out what
''broad-spectrum'' coverage actually means, Wang tells consumers
who buy moisturizers to study product labels and look for the
combination of ingredients outlined in his study.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one of every five
Americans will develop skin cancer, the most common form of cancer
in the United States.
To learn more about sunscreens, visit the
Environmental Working Group.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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