FDA Ruling on Sunscreen Helps Consumers Choose Sun Protection

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Dr. Julie Pena, dermatologist and entrepreneur, supports the FDA's ruling on sunscreens for educating consumers on appropriate sun protection

Many sunscreens only address UVB rays which cause sunburn and skin cancer. But UVA rays are just as bad if not worse.

All sunscreens are not created equally and most consumers don’t know the difference.

With differing SPFs and labeling touting protection against UVA rays, UVB rays or both, many consumers are confused about what the different labels mean.

“SPF has nothing to do with UVA protection,” said Dr. Julie Pena, a board-certified dermatologist. Many sunscreens only address UVB rays which cause sunburn and skin cancer. But UVA rays are just as bad if not worse, Pena said. “UVA does everything bad UVB does and more. It causes skin cancer and aging of the skin.”

Studies have suggested UVA rays contribute more to development of melanoma than UVB rays.

The FDA Tuesday ruled that sunscreens must provide protection from both UVA and UVB radiation in order to earn the label “broad spectrum.” It also ruled such sunscreen can be labeled with new information informing consumers that those products, when used with other sun protection measures, reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging as well as help prevent sunburn.

“I have always had faith that the FDA would issue an appropriate ruling regarding sunscreen,” said Pena, whose Nashville, Tenn. practice focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of skin cancer in addition to cosmetic dermatology.

"The FDA’s ruling on sunscreen will go a long way in educating consumers on what they need to look for when buying sunscreen," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in the FDA press release. “These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families. Most skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. FDA encourages consumers to protect themselves,” Woodcock added. “Not only should consumers regularly apply and reapply sunscreens with Broad Spectrum and SPF of 15 or higher, they should also limit sun exposure.”

However Pena said a SPF 15 broad spectrum sunscreen is not enough. She suggested using an SPF of 30 to 50. “I know that anything above a 30 to 50 does not offer any true increase in sun protection.”

The FDA also proposed a rule limiting the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +”, because there is no proof that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection than products with SPF values of 50.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and mainly measures UVB protection. A person wearing SPF 15 could stay out in the sun 15 times longer than someone without protection before getting burned.

But, Pena warned, SPF does not include UVA protection. “People need to understand that UVA rays are also harmful and you also need UVA protection,” said Pena, who has her own line of skincare products which provide SPF 50 broad-spectrum sunscreen for maximum sun protection.

Pena said when developing her Likewise Daily Skincare line, “I felt I had to do what was in the best interest of the consumer. I know my patients are smart and they deserved to be treated as intelligent individuals who were not swayed by big company marketing tactics,” which promoted skincare products that did not give both UVA and UVB protection.

“All our products have UVA and UVB protection with the gold standard for UVA,” Pena said. “Nothing is as good as zinc oxide and titanium oxide for taking care of UVA rays… because they have been around the longest, have the most consistent results. They are known to be calming to the skin. So calming in fact, that Zinc is used to heal diaper rash. How much more trustworthy can an ingredient be?”

About Likewise Daily Skincare
Likewise Daily Skincare is a company devoted to providing all-in-one skincare products that enable individuals to lead healthy, active lives. The company’s line features three different moisturizers formulated to address the specific concerns of individual skin types. Each formula contains anti-aging antioxidants, vitamins, toners, micronized zinc oxide and SPF 50 broad-spectrum sunscreen for maximum sun protection. Other products include an ultra hydrating hand cream and refreshing body wash containing shea butter, amino acids and alpha and beta hydroxy acids.

About Likewise Dr. Julie Pena
Dr. Pena is a board-certified dermatologist and president of Likewise, Inc. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Dr. Pena received her medical degree at Northwestern University Medical School and completed her dermatology residency at Southern Illinois University. Dr. Pena opened her practice in Nashville, Tenn. where in addition to cosmetic dermatology, she continues to focus on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of skin cancer.


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Melinda Boumans
Likewise Skincare
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