Newsletter XVIII - Sunscreen Lawsuits and Choosing the Best Sunscreen

Have you been watching the news about the class-action lawsuits filed in Los Angeles against sunscreen producers? The news has many people wondering if they can, or should, believe the claims made by some manufacturers. At Coolibar, we believe sun protective clothing is the most consistent and reliable form of sun protection. But even when you're wearing our clothing, a certain amount of skin remains exposed--your face, neck, hands, and the tops of your feet, for example. It's important to use a quality UVA sunscreen to protect these areas.

The lawsuits filed in Los Angeles this spring argue that some sunscreen manufacturers have made misleading claims about their products and the protection they provide. Here are the main issues plus our advice on sunscreen labels.

Broad-spectrum protection (UVA/UVB). All sunscreens protect against UVB, the SPF number is actually a rating of the level of UVB protection. Sunscreens labeled "broad spectrum" are claiming some level of UVA protection as well. Be aware that there is no standardized testing or labeling for UVA protection in America. We recommend using products that contain 6% or more zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, or 3% or more Parsol 1789 (avobenzone). These ingredients provide good UVA protection. You should always select a sunscreen that contains ingredients for broad-spectrum protection.

Waterproof. Many sunscreens are labeled "waterproof" despite a request by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for voluntary removal of such labels. Waterproof testing is completed in an 80-minute still-water bath that does not account for rubbing, sweating, or other activities that might compromise effectiveness. Results, therefore, are inconclusive. No sunscreen is truly waterproof or sweat-proof. Sunscreen should always be applied to dry skin, reapplied after towel drying, and reapplied every two hours while your skin is exposed.

All-day protection. Again, the FDA has asked for voluntary removal of this label. Many sunscreen ingredients begin to break down immediately upon exposure and are wiped off the skin. Never assume you are protected for more than two hours, no matter what the product claims. Always reapply sunscreen every two hours while your skin is exposed.

High SPF. A subject of debate for several years, high SPF numbers give people a false sense of security, encouraging them to stay in the sun too long. On the other hand, using a higher SPF rated sunscreen can compensate somewhat for not applying the recommended thickness, which is the major problem with usage. Always choose sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher, and apply at least one ounce per adult per application.

Sunblock. Some sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide are labeled "sunblock". These ingredients do provide blocking or reflective capabilities, but their protection is not absolute. Again, the FDA has asked manufacturers to voluntarily remove this word from labeling because it is misleading.newsletterxviiibestsunscreen Coolibar has carefully selected several excellent sunscreen brands that fully comply with all FDA voluntary guidelines: Blue Lizard, SolBar, and Vanicream. And we recently added a new form of sunscreen to our lineup?Sunforgettable SPF 30 broad-spectrum powder from Colorescience. For the best protection under the sun, we recommend wearing sun protective clothing and using one of these high-quality products.

Have a sun-safe summer!