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The Controversy of Sunscreen Product Exposure: Too Little, Too Much, or Just Right

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Abstract

Despite decades of human use and clear health benefits, sunscreens remain controversial. At the center of the controversy is exposure. First, what are the data that ad-lib product dosage is below 2 mg/cm2, and, second, what is the evidence that users of sunscreen products under such “real-world” conditions are not protected? It has been suggested that sunscreen products offer little in the way of long-term benefits and may have unintended/unfavorable health consequences by preventing formation of vitamin D or repeatedly exposing humans to harmful chemicals, e.g., ultraviolet (UV) filters. Despite such issues, authoritative organizations in the USA advocate the use of sunscreens along with other photoprotective measures, although the public health messages at times are confusing at the level of the end user, i.e., consumers. Because there are data supportive of the long-term health benefits of daily sunscreen use, arguably the biggest controversy may be the failure to provide an effective public health message amid the relentless criticism of such products. Authorities, such as the American Academy of Dermatology, US Health and Human Services, and Environmental Protection Agency together with Nongovernmental Organizations including Environmental Working Group, should examine the improvement in public health including overall healthcare cost reductions and attempt to deliver a single message akin to the Australian “Slip, Slap, Slop” campaign which has had a favorable public health benefit. One of the pillars of the Australian public health message, “slap” on a sunscreen, will be considered here with respect to exposure and in the context of too little, too much, or just right.

Keywords

  • Consumer use
  • Exposure
  • Public health
  • Safety
  • Sunscreen

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Fig. 8.1

Notes

  1. 1.

    www.skincancer.org.

  2. 2.

    “Absorption” in this context is a term used to describe whether a consumer “feels” product remaining on the skin after application. It is not used in the context of pharmacokinetics, i.e., absorption into the skin, but rather an aesthetic attribute.

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Nash, J.F., Tanner, P.R. (2016). The Controversy of Sunscreen Product Exposure: Too Little, Too Much, or Just Right. In: Wang, S., Lim, H. (eds) Principles and Practice of Photoprotection. Adis, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29382-0_8

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