No, You Shouldn’t Take a Pill Instead of Applying Sunscreen

On May 22, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release intended to remind consumers of the benefits of sunscreen. The release noted previous efforts to raise awareness for sun safety such as “Don’t Fry Day” which conveniently landed on a Friday (whoever said federal regulators don’t have a sense of humor?)

The FDA also wants to warn consumers of companies advertising fake sun protection. There are companies out there advertising pills that these firms claim could protect people from UV exposure. The FDA called these brands out for “putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun, or protect from the risks of skin cancer.”

One brand, Heliocare, provides helpful instructions:

“For sun protection, take one capsule by mouth daily in the morning with a full glass of water. Follow with a high SPF sunscreen applied topically to the skin. If intense sunlight exposure is expected during the day, take one additional capsule at noon. For photoaging protection, take one capsule by mouth daily in the morning with a full glass of water.”

While it is good that Heliocare reminds consumers to use a high SPF sunscreen, the FDA is naturally concerned that the public might be misled into thinking that these products could treat a disease or medical condition, such as a sunburn. Heliocare does not show up on the FDA’s naughty list, but the following brands do: “Advanced Skin Brightening Formula” from GliSODin Skin Nutrients, “Sunsafe Rx” from Napa Valley Bioscience, “Solaricare” from Pharmacy Direct, and “Sunergetic” from Sunergized LLC.


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