FDA Declares Mineral Sunscreens Safe; Suggests Chemical Sunscreens Need More Research

FDA declares mineral sunscreens safeThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced their proposal to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide safe, while claiming 12 other sunscreen chemicals as needing more research before they’ll be deemed ‘safe.’

It’s not really news to those of us who’ve paid attention to the ingredients of products we put in and on our bodies, but it’s a big deal in the ‘conventional world of sunscreens on the market.

Last week, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced they were working on a rule that would deem mineral sunscreens safe, and require more research for chemicals used in more conventional chemical-barrier sunscreens.

Related: Hawaii Bans Sunscreens Containing Chemicals That Harm Coral Reefs

The FDA named zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the two mineral ingredients they’d declare safe in sunscreens, while claiming 12 others, including oxybenzone and octinoxate as needing more research before they’d be officially declared ‘safe.’

The FDA will also declare two other chemicals formerly used in sunscreens as unsafe, but those yet-named ingredients are no longer used in products in the U.S.

While the FDA is clear to make note that the 12 common chemical ingredients have not been declared as unsafe, the fact that they are even bold enough to say more research before deciding is needed is a step in the right direction.

As ‘more research’ is done on the ingredients, manufacturers will still be able to produce the products as they work with the FDA.

For a long time, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been working to rid sunscreen products as the chemicals many believe to be dangerous based on already published research. They’ve been looking at sunscreens for over ten years, and has only recommended mineral sunscreens as chemical sunscreens are believed to disrupt hormones, be inhaled, or even be carcinogenic.

Nneke Leiba is the director of EWG’s healthy living science program and says that they’re thrilled that 14 of 16 ingredients they’ve been concerned about are finally being considered for their safety and will be more researched.

Leiba says that this proposal from the FDA would make U.S. regulations more similar to European standards for sunscreen. She said that 905 of the products in the U.S. would not be allowed under current European rules, and it’s high time we catch up.

If the rule is finalized, active ingredients of sunscreens would have to be listed on the fronts of the bottles. Additionally, alerts about skin cancer, aging and sun exposure would have to be on the products–particularly the ones that have not been shown to provide prevention against skin cancer. Insect repellant/sunscreen combos would no longer be considered safe either.

Related: Top 6 Natural Sunscreens (That Really Work!)

As well, any sunscreens above SPF 15 would have to have protection against both kinds of ultraviolet radiation, which is called broad-spectrum protection.

The FDA also is clear that they are not suggesting consumers not use the sunscreens they are researching more, but to continue using sunscreens to protect against sunscreen.

We expect the FDA’s rule to be posted next week, and we know that it could take a while before the FDA deems any chemical ingredients as unsafe. That said, we’re thrilled the FDA is finally paying attention to the fact that chemicals are not good for our bodies, and their efficacy compared to safety needs to be researched more to protect families.

Photo: NadyaEugene/Shutterstock

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