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Are Your Kids Protected?  New Study on Sunscreen Protection Shows They May Not Be

It’s time for fun in the sun.  Time for you and your family to enjoy the great outdoors.  You apply sunscreen protection to safeguard yourself, and your children, from harm that can be caused by the sun’s increasingly strong rays, and you are on your way.

Unfortunately, the sunscreen protection you purchased may not provide the level of defense form the sun’s rays that you desired.

A recent study by Consumer Reports indicates that 43% of sunscreens don’t live up to their SPF claims (sun protection factor).  Two products that fell far short of their claimed SPF levels include Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free, Sting-Free Lotion SPF 50 and CVS Kids Sun Lotion SPF 50. Both tested at an SPF of 8.  According to the report, “That’s not enough sun protection, and it could leave you (or your kids) vulnerable to sunburn and possible long-term skin damage, such as wrinkles or skin cancer.”

The magazine’s report report on sunscreen protection provided data on 60 lotions, sprays, and sticks with a minimum claim of 30 SPF. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a minimum level of 30 SPF.  The study showed that most mineral “natural” sunscreens (usually containing titanium dioxide or zinc) performed badly with only 26% of them actually performing at the claimed level of SPF.  Chemical suncsreens (those containing ingredients like avobenzone) performed better at 58%.  According to Consumer Reports, the results have not changed much over the past four years.  “Of all the sunscreens we’ve tested over that stretch of time, fully half came in below the SPF number printed on the label, and a third registered below an SPF 30.”

It should be noted that some of the manufacturers cited in the report dispute Consumer Reports’ finding.  According to the chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, Dr. Beth Lange, the study may have used a different methodology than that required by the FDA.   CVS, for example, claims that by applying FDA testing requirements, its products meet the SPF levels it claims.

According to the executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation, Dr. Tim Turnham, this study nevertheless is a “cause for real concern.”  All sunscreen manufacturers must test their products in compliance with the FDA.  However, Consumer Reports says the FDA “doesn’t routinely test sunscreens; it requires the manufacturers to test their products. But in most cases the companies don’t have to submit their results, just keep them on hand in case the FDA asks to see them. What’s more, companies only have to test a sunscreen on people when a product rolls out or is reformulated.”

Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, senior vice-president of the Skin Cancer Foundation stated that the report ”raises very important points about the importance of SPF as well as the importance of broad-spectrum UVA protection as a means to reduce the risk of skin cancer and to minimize premature skin aging.”

Here is a link to the Consumer Reports article regarding sunscreen:

If you purchased one of the sunscreen products that Consumer Reports found to misrepresent its SPF level, please email or contact an attorney at Goldman Scarlato & Penny, P.C. to discuss your concerns.  You may contact attorney Mark Goldman at or call (484) 342-0700.


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