Wearing Sunscreen Every Day Can Make You Look Younger

Time Magazine

Wearing Sunscreen Every Day Can Make You Look Younger

 By Alexandra Sifferlin

June 4, 2013

Dermatologists have long prodded their patients to apply more sunscreen, claiming it not only protects against skin cancer, but aging as well. Now there’s evidence to prove it.

In a new study, Australian researchers report that people who apply sunscreen everyday show 24% less skin aging compared to participants who only used sunscreen part of the time. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at  900 people under 55 and discovered those regularly using sunscreen were less likely to have increased skin aging after 4.5 years — even those in middle age.

“Those who even had a good amount of sun damage had an improvement in the aging of the skin,” says Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and clinical associate professor at NYU Langone Medical School who was not associated with the study. “As dermatologists, we have been saying for years and years, use SPF every day all year round. I always say, if you don’t need a flashlight to see outside, you need protection.”

The study comes out just in time for summer and coincides with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new sunscreen regulations. After a few delays, major manufacturers are now required to distinguish between which brands and products can be labeled “broad spectrum,” meaning they protect against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. The new guidelines also mandate that products include directions to reapply regularly and prohibit brands from claiming on their labels that their sunscreens are sweatproof or waterproof.

The new regulations were highly anticipated and arguably long overdue. The European Commission started requiring these label changes in 2007. It’s a major move in the right direction for American skin protection, since skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. But the new requirements are far from perfect.

For instance, the FDA has yet to follow Europe’s lead and cap the SPF value at 50+ for sunscreen products. In June 2011, the agency proposed a regulation to require any products with SPF values higher than 50 to be labeled as “50+.” The FDA has acknowledged that there is not adequate data to show products with SPF higher than 50 provide any additional protection compared to products with lower SPF values. There is also an ongoing call for more data to determine the safety and efficacy of spray sunscreens.

Some critics believe the FDA takes too long to approve sunscreen ingredients. In Europe, sunscreen manufacturers may incorporate 27 different ingredients, but in the U.S., there are only 16 approved ingredients.

Dermatologists remember how long it took L’Oreal to get an application approved to use Mexoryl SX. “Getting Mexoryl approved here took years even though it was approved in Europe and in France,” says Day. “Getting it approved in America was a whole process and people were bootlegging it. It created an aura that it was so much better.”

Currently, eight sunscreen ingredient applications are pending with the FDA, with some up to 10 years in backlog. In the video below, California Representative Sam Farr questions FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in April on why it is taking so long.

The issue is partly because the FDA is stringent, which is a good thing. But bureaucracy also plays a significant role. The ingredient petition applications were filed through the FDA’s Time and Extent Application (TEA) process, which was implemented in 2002 to address gaps in the approval processes for new over-the-counter (OTC) products that were not covered by the existing OTC Drug Monographs, which are akin to a recipe book of acceptable ingredients, doses, labels and formulations. The TEA pathway is intended to be an approval process for OTC drugs whose safety has been determined by a minimum of five years of use. The FDA can also request additional data on safety and effectiveness in an attempt to prevent potential allergic reactions or skin sensitivities. The multiple steps mean the approval process is hardly a quick turnaround.

That being said, current ingredients used in the U.S. are effective. The stricter regulations are largely intended to keep brands from making false claims. ”The FDA has done a good job at simplifying how you understand what the sunscreen does,” says Day.

Perhaps they’ve done too good of a job. Day worries that the strict parameters may discourage manufacturers from continuing to refine their products and develop new ones.

There may be more options for sunscreen one day, but right now we’re best off slathering on the products that exist. The latest research shows that sunscreen guards against both skin damage and aging. Used in tandem with other protective behaviors like wearing clothing with coverage and spending time in the shade, it can help keep skin healthy.

Schumer Asks FDA to Approve More Effective Sunscreens

New York 1

Schumer Asks FDA to Approve More Effective Sunscreens

June 2, 2013

With summer around the corner, and more warm weather pushing more people to enjoy the outdoors, Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for the Food and Drug Administration to approve more effective sunscreens.

Schumer said the United States is behind the rest of the world when it comes to using sunscreens with long-range UVA filters, which block a broader range of the sun's damaging rays.

The senator also said that for the past decade, the FDA has been testing products with Sun Protection Factors (SPFs) over 50, but without concluding whether those high numbers mean more protection.

He said beachgoers and vacationers deserve to know which products work best to protect them against skin cancer.

The FDA should make its determination before beach season gets into full swing, according to Schumer, and look into whether aerosol sunscreens, which have become increasingly popular, are as effective as lotions.

We're Missing Out on the Best SPF Available


We're Missing Out on the Best SPF Available
 By Lauren Le Vine

May 28, 2013

As the sun's rays penetrate more and more of the depleted atmosphere and skin cancer incidences rise, we know we need to be diligent about applying sunscreen before venturing outside. Unfortunately, the sunscreen we're using may not offer a full range of protection from all of the sun's ultraviolet rays. New labels began to appear on suncreens in December, and this summer, many consumers will notice symbols and letters denoting "broad-spectrum coverage" that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Despite these new measures, the Wall Street Journal reports that in the United States, we're still not getting the most sun protection possible. Many long-rage UVA filters are currently awaiting FDA clearance to be used in our sunscreens. People have actually started purchasing their sun protection in France and the Caribbean, where these ingredients are already legal and in use.

The lack of approved UVA filters in the U.S. limits sunscreen manufacturers to only three UVA filter options, none of which have the same long-lasting protection as ingredients already found in European products. To be fair, the FDA hold-up is in part due to proper protocol, which requires them to carefully test and examine the effects of all chemicals. However, the patents have also been filed through a system known as TEA, which stands for "time and extent application," meaning the FDA can approve products that have been in use abroad for at least five years and found to be safe and effective. Some of these ingredients have been in use for over a decade in Europe.

In the meantime, just having this knowledge is powerful. You can buy European sunscreens containing Tinosorb and Ecamsule (a proprietary ingredient on which L'Oréal Paris has a patent) online. Avèe Very High Protection Emulsion SPF 50+ comes highly recommended. For the rest of your summer sun protection needs, be sure to seek out labels with UVA and UVB protection. And don't use last summer's products; sunscreen expires (I can attest to this from personal experience)!

The FDA is Limiting Your Access to the World's Best Sunscreen


The FDA is Limiting Your Access to the World's Best Sunscreen 
By Madeleine Davies

May 28, 2013

Ah, Europe. Not only does it get the fancy old castles, the Eurovision competition and Louis Garrel, but now it has the world's best sunscreen, too. Just how good is this white gold? So good that Americans are eschewing U.S. brands like Coppertone (that chubby naked baby couldn't rule forever) and instead having European brands shipped into the country or brought back in with them from their European vacations.

And what makes the European brands so special (other than their cool aloofness, all-black wardrobe and preference for Gauloises cigarettes)?

Well, for one thing, they're much better at preventing skin cancer and sun damage.

Sunscreens created abroad are allowed to use eight additional ingredients that, thanks to the FDA, are still under review in the U.S. While it makes sense that the FDA would want to test out products before making them widely available across the country, they're dragging their heels — some of the sunscreen ingredients have been awaiting approval for a whole decade despite being deemed safe and showing no health problems for people in the places where they are widely used.

Henry Lim, chairman of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, tells the Wall Street Journal, "The U.S. is an island by itself on this one. They're available in Canada, available in Europe, available in Asia, available in Mexico, and available in South America."

By limiting sunscreen ingredients, the FDA has also limited our UV protection. While broad spectrum sunscreens have become increasingly available in the U.S., the current legal ingredients only provide three UVA filters (the factor that blocks sun rays from penetrating skin), none of which are terribly long lasting. Ecamsule, Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M are the three most effective ingredients in long lasting UVA protection, but all three still have pending TEA applications. (The TEA process "allows the FDA to approve the ingredients if they have been used for at least five years abroad and have proved effective and safe.")

There has been some hesitation from U.S. dermatologists to recommend foreign sunscreens because "a paucity of research and concerns that some may be highly allergenic or affect estrogen levels."

However, from the WSJ:

No such concerns have been cited for Tinosorb or Mexoryl, several doctors said. The filters have been used effectively outside the U.S. for a long time, according to Dr. Lim. The lack of UVA filters in the U.S. "does limit the ability of sunscreen manufacturers to manufacture good, broad-spectrum sunscreens," he said.

Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said "not all the of the European sunscreen chemicals are good or better. But there are a handful that really stand out to us as worthy of consideration and would result in improvement for sun protection."

Give us our damn Tinosorb, FDA! Summer is coming and most of us can't afford a quick sunscreen run to France.

Support access to the latest and most effective sunscreens

Support the Sunscreen Innovation Act by writing your Member of Congress on HR-4250 here and your Senators on S-2141 here.

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