Many Highly Rated Sunscreens Fail to Adhere to AAD Guidelines

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Many sunscreens did not adhere to AAD guidelines, mostly due to a lack of water resistance.
Many sunscreens did not adhere to AAD guidelines, mostly due to a lack of water resistance.

In a cohort of 65 highly rated sunscreen products on, a significant proportion did not adhere to guidelines put forth by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), mostly due to a lack of water resistance, a study published in JAMA Dermatology has shown.1

Sunscreen is used to prevent sunburn, reduce photoaging, treat photosensitive dermatoses, and decrease the risk for developing skin cancer, though there are limited data on consumer preferences for purchasing sunscreen.

Investigators identified the top 1 percent of the 6500 sunscreen products on as of December 2015, according to average consumer review and the highest number of consumer reviews.

Of the 65 products evaluated, 40% did not adhere to AAD guidelines, which state that sunscreen products should be broad spectrum, water-resistant, and have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

RELATED: A Call for Greater Skin Cancer Surveillance Among Solid Organ Transplant Recipients

Cosmetic elegance was the most cited positive feature, followed by product performance and skin type compatibility. Prices within the cohort differed by more than 3000%.

The findings suggest that clinicians should balance the importance of cosmetic elegance, satisfactory sun protection, and cost when recommending these products to patients.


1. Xu S, Kwa M, Agarwal A, Rademaker A, Kundu RV. Sunscreen product performance and other determinants of consumer preferences. JAMA Dermatol. 2016 Jul 6. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.2344 [Epub ahead of print]

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