Sunscreens sold by two major retailers in the United States in 2017 are more adherent to the American Academy of Dermatology recommendations for sun protection than in 2014, but approximately 35% still do not meet the AAD criteria, according to results of a new study.

The results are based on data from a review of 472 products, available for sale on-line, a follow-up to a 2014 study that examined the proportion of sunscreen products that met three AAD recommendations: a sun protection factor of 30 or higher, broad-spectrum coverage, and 40-80 minutes of water resistance. In the 2014 study, almost 35% of sunscreens sold at Walmart and 41% of sunscreens sold at Walgreens met all three recommendations ( J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71[5]:1011-2 ).

Ariel E. Eber of the University of Miami department of dermatology and cutaneous surgery and associates conducted the follow-up study to determine whether more products met the AAD criteria in 2017. They reviewed products listed on the websites of Walmart (251 products) and Walgreens (221 products) on Jan. 25, 2017.

Overall, about 65% of Walmart products and 73% of Walgreens products met all three recommendations, a significant increase from 2014 (P less than .01). When the products were broken down by recommendation, more than 90% in 2017 offered broad-spectrum coverage, and more than 75% offered 40-80 minutes of water resistance, representing significant increases from 2014( J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Aug;77[2]:377-9 ).

The proportion of products with SPF 30 or higher “remained stable, possibly because there were already many to begin with,” noted the authors, who found that 82% of the Walmart products and 86% of the Walgreens products had an SPF of at least 30.

Of the 31 products with tanning and bronzing on their primary display, however, only 6 met the three AAD criteria for sun protection; these findings were similar to the findings in 2014.

“Our study demonstrates that sunscreens available at major retailers more closely adhere to AAD guidelines in 2017 than in 2014, but there remains room for improvement,” they said, pointing out that almost 35% of products sold at Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer, did not meet all three recommendations and that “tanning and bronzing products continue to fail to meet AAD criteria.”

The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.


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