Efficacy is not highest priority for sunscreen buyers

Healthcare professionals should advise consumers on adequate photoprotection, new study concludes.

Young woman applying sunscreen to her arm

An understanding of consumer preferences for sunscreen could help healthcare professionals to increase uptake, as use remains low among adolescents and adults. 

In a study published in JAMA Dermatology (online, 8 July 2016)[1]
, researchers used reviews from Amazon.com to identify the 1% most highly-rated sunscreen products (n=65) and analysed the top five “most helpful” reviews for each.

Cosmetic features, such as whether the product is well absorbed, were the most commonly cited positive factors (61% of reviews), while efficacy was only mentioned in 45% of reviews. The research also showed that 40% of the products did not meet American Academy of Dermatology recommendations (broad spectrum coverage, SPF ≥30, water and/or sweat resistant), mainly because of a lack of water resistance. 

Healthcare professionals should advise consumers to balance the cosmetic applicability of sunscreen products with adequate photoprotection, the researchers conclude.


 [1] Xu S, Kwa M, Agarwal A et al. Sunscreen product performance and other determinants of consumer preferences. JAMA Dermatology 2016. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.2344

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, August 2016, Vol 8, No 8;8(8):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201422

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