Statement from AAD President Henry W. Lim, MD, FAAD, on the Safety of Sunscreen


“The American Academy of Dermatology wants to emphasize that sunscreen remains a safe, effective form of sun protection. As one component of a daily sun-protection strategy, sunscreen is an important tool in the fight against skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Current scientific data does not support claims that sunscreen ingredients are toxic or a hazard to human health. Rather, evidence supports the benefits of applying sunscreen to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Sunscreen products contain one or more active drug ingredients —compounds that absorb, scatter or reflect UV light — and are regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has several safety and effectiveness regulations in place that govern the manufacture and marketing of all sunscreen products, including safety data on its ingredients. 

“To reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging, dermatologists continue to recommend generously applying a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen – that protects against both types of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) – with an SPF 30 or higher, in conjunction with other sun-safe practices such as limiting sun exposure, seeking shade, and wearing sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.

To ensure the most effective protection from sunscreen, you should apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin — for most adults, this is about 1 ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass. Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours, when outdoors, or after swimming or sweating.

There are a wide range of sunscreen products on the market today; choose the one that follows the AAD’s recommendations in the form that you are most likely to use. We encourage anyone with questions about sun protection and sunscreen ingredients to talk to a board-certified dermatologist, who can use his or her expertise to help you develop an effective sun protection plan.”


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