Formulators Forum - Sunscreens: Current Issues and Controversies

Like you, I have attended an astounding number of scientific conferences and have read seemingly unending technical papers dealing with what most of the time are topics of interest to cosmetic chemists. While we always can learn from these meetings and articles, it seems to me that there is a real lack of technical controversy. We sit and quietly accept what is heard as gospel. While we may not agree, we nevertheless just sit back and don’t ask the hard questions. Does this make sense? Was the test design reasonable? Did they use the proper controls?


The sunscreen monograph, as proposed, was fi rst published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1978. The agency published a Tentative Final Monograph in 1992 and a Final rule (sort of) in 1999. FDA administrators and scientists have made many statements that just sit out there, unchallenged. It is time to look at the many statements being made regarding sunscreens and ask the tough questions. A good scientist tries to look at all sides of an issue. An informed chemist understands the issues and can see both sides—and sometimes there are more sides than meet the eye. The informed chemist doesn’t just sit back, but chooses instead to stir the pot.

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