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Is Overseas Sunscreen More Effective?

I remember the first time that I went into a chemist’s shop when I was living and working in London. Now, when I type chemist, I mean what we may say as a pharmacy in the States. The chemist’s shop harkens back to a time when the mixing of medicines and such was done on-site by a trained medical chemist. The place had many familiar items that one might see in Arkansas or Philadelphia. Then, there were some brands of which I had never heard and, quite frankly, of which I was quite skeptical.

Overseas skincare answers

When you have a headache or a fever, you don’t want to mess around with potions that don’t work. Most worked magnificently. As part of the National Health Service in Britain, I always felt like I received good care. So, in my research on health-related issues in the States (particularly skincare issues), I wanted to also get another perspective as skin cancer is a worldwide disease that crosses all borders. I didn’t have to search long to find some interesting information directly related to safe skincare.

Foreign sunscreen more effective?

According to a recent online article, there have been significant advances in the effectiveness of sunscreen overseas.1 According to Dr. Henry I. Miller (physician and molecular biologist) and Dr. Renata H. Muller (dermatologist), sunscreens made in Europe, Asia, and Australia are producing new generations of sunscreen that provide better protection against harmful UVA rays that deeply penetrate the skin. These rays can produce devastating effects at a molecular level that don’t become apparent for years or even decades.

Sunburns are not the only problem

The article notes that older, domestic sunscreens are more effective in blocking UVB rays that cause sunburn and therefore, seem more effective to the user. The theory is that if the user doesn’t believe he or she is burning, then there will be a tendency toward longer exposure and thus even more damage. In other words, longer sun exposure will occur if the person feels more comfortable and confident that they are on getting a painful burn.

Are we being duped?

Miller and Muller make this bold statement, “Most Americans mistakenly believe that they are getting state-of-the-art skin protection from sunscreen. However, a sunscreen with SPF 50 bought in the United States allows three times as much ultraviolet light to enter the skin as sunscreens with the same SPF available abroad.”1 Frankly, this is quite alarming. Miller and Muller are both Americans, so this statement feels like more of a warning than some sort of overseas braggadocio.

Slow to get in the game?

The article points out that the Food and Drug Administration is acting slowly in its response to the skin cancer epidemic plaguing our own citizens. It asserts that little has been accomplished since the U.S. surgeon general’s declaration that skin cancer was a public health care emergency in 2014. And that no new sunscreen ingredients have been introduced in the United States since 2002.

So many questions

So, what does this mean? In my mind, it means that advocacy efforts to need to be asking why this is so. Why are we lagging behind other countries in protecting our citizens from the epidemic that is skin cancer? I also am asking myself, do I have any access to more effective products made overseas? Maybe not, since they are not approved for domestic use. As always, I will find some answers.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.



  • Tony-B
    3 months ago

    I am not sure either but as a safeguard, I use a sun block that was developed and is made in a country that has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, Australia.

    I use SunSense Ultra SPF50+.

    Would not use any other type.

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