Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. It’s also the most easily preventable.
The primary cause of skin cancer is exposure to sun ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Wearing sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect yourself from this dangerous sun exposure and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
But does it matter which type of sunscreen you use?
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) classifies sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication. According to their regulations, there are only 16 active ingredients that American manufacturers are approved to use in sunscreen.
The European Commission lists 27 approved sunscreen ingredients, many of which offer greater protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
American or European Sunscreen?
Many people report that American sunscreens are generally greasier, thicker, and less pleasant to apply than their European counterparts.
American-made sunscreens may also be less effective at protecting against the sun’s cancer-causing rays – UVA and UVB.
The FDA’s standards for UVA protection are not nearly as strict as the European Commission’s. Most American sunscreens would not meet the European standards for broad-spectrum protection.
European manufacturers have synthesized innovative ingredients that provide better protection against the sun, such as Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M, and Mexoryl SX (ecamsule).
The FDA has not yet approved these ingredients for use in the United States.
Are European Sunscreens Safe?
Although the FDA has stated that they don’t yet have enough evidence to say that these ingredients are completely safe, the European Commission (generally reported to be even more strict with their safety standards) has approved them.
The slowness of the FDA’s approval process may result from the classification of sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication, while Europe considers it a cosmetic.
If you are buying sunscreen online from other countries, one thing to be aware of is the potential for counterfeit products, which may not be what they claim to be.
Ultimately, wearing any sunscreen is better than wearing none at all. Find a product you can wear whenever you are out in the sun.
If you don’t like the greasiness of American sunscreens and want the added protection of innovative ingredients not yet approved in the United States, consider ordering your sunscreen from Europe.
But as long as you apply broad-spectrum sunscreen and follow the label’s instructions, American-made sunscreens can provide you with sufficient protection.