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Photochem Photobiol. 1998 Sep;68(3):243-56.

A review of sunscreen safety and efficacy.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


The use of sunscreen products has been advocated by many health care practitioners as a means to reduce skin damage produced by ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sunlight. There is a need to better understand the efficacy and safety of sunscreen products given this ongoing campaign encouraging their use. The approach used to establish sunscreen efficacy, sun protection factor (SPF), is a useful assessment of primarily UVB (290-320 nm) filters. The SPF test, however, does not adequately assess the complete photoprotective profile of sunscreens specifically against long wavelength UVAI (340-400 nm). Moreover, to date, there is no singular, agreed upon method for evaluating UVA efficacy despite the immediate and seemingly urgent consumer need to develop sunscreen products that provide broad-spectrum UVB and UVA photoprotection. With regard to the safety of UVB and UVA filters, the current list of commonly used organic and inorganic sunscreens has favorable toxicological profiles based on acute, subchronic and chronic animal or human studies. Further, in most studies, sunscreens have been shown to prevent the damaging effects of UVR exposure. Thus, based on this review of currently available data, it is concluded that sunscreen ingredients or products do not pose a human health concern. Further, the regular use of appropriate broad-spectrum sunscreen products could have a significant and favorable impact on public health as part of an overall strategy to reduce UVR exposure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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