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January 17, 2019

Pills won’t protect you against the sun, FDA warns

May 25, 2018
No, you cannot protect your skin from the sun’s harmful, cancer-causing ultraviolet light by popping a pill. (jcarillet/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

No, you cannot protect your skin from the sun’s harmful, cancer-causing ultraviolet light by popping a pill, the Food and Drug Administration warns.

A newfound popularity of so-called “oral sunscreens” prompted the FDA to issue a reminder Tuesday that anything short of an SPF sunscreen applied to the skin isn’t adequately shielding anyone from the sun. The agency also issued a warning to companies that claim otherwise.

“There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen,” the FDA said.

“We’ve found products purporting to provide protection from the sun that aren’t delivering the advertised benefits,” the statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reads. “Instead they’re misleading consumers, and putting people at risk. Today we sent warning letters to companies illegally marketing pills and capsules labeled as dietary supplements that make unproven drug claims about protecting consumers from the harms that come from sun exposure without meeting the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness.”

The FDA called out four brands specifically: Advanced Skin Brightening Formula by GliSODin Skin Nutrients, Sunsafe Rx by Napa Valley Bioscience, Solaricare by Pharmacy Direct, and Sunergized LLC’s Sunergetic, for “giving consumers a false sense of security.”

The pills are nothing more than dietary supplements, according to the FDA, and the companies behind them have been instructed to make corrections to the wording in their promotional material, on websites and labels or risk violating federal law.

Legitimate sunscreens come in lotion, cream, stick and spray-on forms in a variety of SPF — or sun protection factor — levels that are considered over-the-counter drugs that have been tested and approved by the FDA for effectiveness. Products not up to government standards are required to disclose that information to potential buyers on their labels.

Sunscreens used to be recommended for a day at the beach or when spending several hours in the sun — but the FDA now encourages daily, liberal use when any sun exposure is anticipated. This evolution of the way humanity protects itself from the sun has progressed in recent decades as skin cancer has become more prevalant.

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