> At 36, I am just old enough to remember when sunscreen wasn’t a big deal. My mom, despite being among the palest people alive, does not remember bringing it on our earliest vacations, or hearing any mention of sun protection by our pediatrician.

> Now SPF is ubiquitous. You can find it in lotions, sprays, gels, oils, powders, and implements that look like grade-school glue sticks, as well as infused into skin-care products, lip balms, makeup, and clothing. Sun care has its own aisle at big-box stores, and beauty companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been built from the ground up by offering only products that block ultraviolet rays.

So we went from little to no sunscreen to ubiquity over a few decades, but over that time rates of skin cancer have increased per 100k.

Shouldn't rates have gone down? What explains this?

*in US.

Honestly, I was expecting an article about some ingredients being harmful to coral reef hence disallowed, or similar.

Instead, the issue is slow process of FDA.

> The FDA hasn’t added a new active ingredient to its sunscreen monograph [...] in decades.

Also, what makes this article interesting (a "man bites a dog" kind of story) is that the US is more strict than EU in this area; in 95% of cases for all kinds of items sold, it's the opposite.

How do these new filter chemicals compare in terms of safety for coral reefs? When I went to Hawaii there were signs everywhere about only using mineral-based sunscreen (i.e. physical filters).

I am surprised about so much cancer and so little environment talk.

The reason I don't wear sunscreen and have spent hours looking at ingredients just to buy none is that I don't want to pollute our waters.

After tourist season there is a oily film swimming on our Alp lakes. People are literally walking hours enjoying the nature just to pollute the source of all that.

These lakes aren't that big. And their fresh water source is very limited in the summer months. No idea how the animals react tho, not sure if anyone specifically looked at good visited mountain lakes

You're also not allowed to have the best toothpaste in the world. Toothpaste with Novamin can't be sold in the US. Thankfully the internet makes it easy to get the good stuff anyhow.
So much for consumer choice and free markets. I wonder why there aren't more attempts at consolidating regulatory information across countries.

If some sunscreen or baby food is available in Europe I'd feel pretty comfortable using it, but I'm denied the opportunity to do so. It would be great if these kinds of items were made available for purchase with some sort of disclaimer. My guess is that in both the cases of sunscreen and baby food, regulations are in place in order to protect local national interests.

Something that I've always found a bit concerning is when there are major inconsistencies between global regulatory agencies. There's demographic differences to account for, but how is it possible to arrive at such drastically different conclusions? And if you arrive at drastically different conclusions, someone is probably going to be more correct while the other is going to be more wrong.

There is a small not so black market of distributors for these, notably Biore UV which is easily accessible on Amazon - as well as ebay and other ecomm channels.

I fly frequently to Japan, and always stock up on Biore UV, and lately with the USD to JPY, it makes more sense too stock up more. :)

Lots of items from also have free shipping to USA, it's nice.

If you can't enter Japan, but still feel the need (it sounds silly, but maybe on layover) you can fly through Haneda which has all shops accessible for transfers. Narita can too depending which terminal you fly in, ANA yes, JAL no.

> At 36, I am just old enough to remember when sunscreen wasn’t a big deal. My mom, despite being among the palest people alive, does not remember bringing it on our earliest vacations, or hearing any mention of sun protection by our pediatrician

I'm 40 and it was common when I was a child, on family trips to the beach or similar style vacations. Every family in my neighborhood functioned approximately the same when it came to sunscreen. It was common with other children at school, and among teachers, and so on. There was nothing special at all about the area where I grew up, a white lower middle to middle class area. It was very common knowledge by the late 1980s to wear sunscreen while at the beach. That's an exceptionally low quality set-up by the article's author.

Amazon blocks "bemotrizinol" from its search. Tsk tsk.

Hack your own sunscreen: zinc powder, coconut oil, olive oil. I bought a lifetime supply of zinc for $10. It is edible and free of toxic endocrine disrupters. Goal is not to block everything since you need vitamin D.
In the article it briefly mentions L’Oreal. They have a patent on another set of filters mexoryl and mexoryl xl, both are great and allowed by the FDA. You can buy it with their La Roche Posay brand.
Thalidomide still casts a huge shadow across the FDA:

It is the founding myth. As such it is institutionally very conservative about approving stuff.

Now the question does become: what is the opportunity cost of that stance. How many people have died or had bad outcomes because medicine deemed safe in Europe was not approved by the FDA.

I used to wear sunscreen daily. Now I just wear a hat with a brim.
Sunscreen is a scam. Sun is good for you unless you aren't able to tan.

"Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking. Compared to the highest sun exposure group, life expectancy of avoiders of sun exposure was reduced by 0.6-2.1 years. "

I suppose the FDA's opinion here doesn't matter anymore? Wild, layman postulation here, but I don't see any meaningful difference between the FDA and the EPA, if the EPA was executive overreach than I suppose the FDA is too and companies should feel relatively comfortable about using any chemical that they wish.

I'd be curious to hear the inside of both meeting rooms, inside the FDA and inside chemical producers. Very curious what those meetings are like after last week.

Vitamin D deficiency is far riskier for sedatory indoor people then skin cancer is. I wouldn’t be surprised if we look back at this time and laugh at how we were blocking too many UV rays.
What are they, and where can I buy them in the US?
I still feel that the best sunscreen is to just be in the shade with cold beer while sun is at it's harshest.
Isn't vitamin D going to get mentioned? Has sunscreen growth coincided with plummeting levels of vitamin D?
How often do people go to the dermatologist to have their moles checked?
> Dobos emphasized to me that she thinks the FDA’s strict regulation of sunscreen products is generally beneficial to the American public, but that the agency’s slow progress on new ingredients doesn’t match the urgency of skin cancer’s threat to public health.

This line is where this got interesting to me, as it's not hard to find examples of the US being lax with product/chemical safety compared to Europe in other areas, so I was skeptical of a case to be more rash in this area. So pairing it with the issue of skin cancer makes it more compelling. But they still gloss over chemical absorption in this article, which is a factor that seems like it could use more investigation per (tldr: sunscreen -> less skin cancers seems well supported, but effect of chemicals in body is not understood).

TL;DR: The FDA hasn't yet approved some ingredients used in other countries.
Damn. If we can't get that two million sunblock, we're all gonna have a real bad day.
Anecdote: As a pale-skinned male, I used to lather myself in sunscreen. Then I cut out seed oils. I no longer burn. Totally stopped using sunscreen.