40 Percent of Top-Rated Sunscreens Are Inadequate

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People are choosing cosmetic elegance -- how a sunscreen feels on the skin, or its color or scent -- over product quality, one study finds.

Talk about getting burned.

New research shows that 40 percent of the most highly rated sunscreens on Amazon.com don’t meet dermatologists’ recommendations.

Specifically, the study recently published in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology found those products failed to meet the recommendations of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The AAD is a nonprofit trade association that represents practicing dermatologists. The group recommends everyone use a sunscreen that offers:

  • Broad-spectrum protection, meaning it protects against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation from the sun
  • Sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
  • Water resistance

For the study, researchers from the medical schools at Northwestern University and Duke University scrutinized 65 sunscreens. These products represented the top-rated 1 percent of the 6,500 sunscreens on Amazon, with ratings of at least four out of five stars.

The researchers aimed to determine which popular sunscreens are also high-performing products.

Lead study author Dr. Steve Xu, who is currently doing post-graduate training in dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, explains:

“We are often asked to recommend sunscreens, and we wanted to know what consumers prefer. This way we are suggesting popular products they will actually use that will protect them.”

Of the 10 most-reviewed and most highly rated sunscreens on Amazon, only half met AAD recommendations. They are:

The study also found that cosmetic elegance — how a sunscreen feels on the skin, or its color or scent — is the No. 1 factor in why shoppers choose a sunscreen. Product performance finished second.

Product ingredients — which are key to whether a sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection — were among the less common factors.

To learn more about how to choose the right sunscreen, check out “3 Simple Steps to Protecting Your Skin This Summer.”

Does this study make you nervous about your favorite sunscreen? Let us know below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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