Where’s the block in sunblock?

As the warmer seasons are rapidly approaching, we are about to be lavished with sunscreen advertisements. This is their time to shine! The question we have to ask ourselves is why are people who are applying sunscreen still being diagnosed or even dying from skin cancer? Is what we are buying as a preventative really as effective as marketers say they are, or do they not really care about our wellbeing?

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 2 million people are diagnosed each year with skin cancer. Sunscreen is supposed to elicit a medical benefit for us. We confidently go on vacation to the beach and enjoy outdoor activities with the sunscreen they have purchased. Unfortunately, the truth is, it may not make a difference if we even put it on. Some sunscreen brands are being choked full of ingredients that do not even protect against UVA, the leading cause of skin cancer.


CBS News reported that now FDA regulations state, “if a brand claims to be water-resistant, they must accompany the statement with the amount of time you have per SPF level before reapplying.” Naturally, this is a huge hit to sunscreen marketers. They are being forced into being more ethical in selling their products.

Surprisingly or not, there is a lot of fabrication in the terms being used, such as: “waterproof” and “full spectrum.” The question I have is, if sunscreen marketers were really producing their product with the health of their consumers in mind, wouldn’t they be educating us on how their product will actually protect us? Instead, they are frivolously throwing labels on the bottles that make us feel safe.

The truth of the matter is, we need protection from UV Rays and apparently sunscreen products are SPF-based. James B. Twitchell states in his book “Lead Us Into Temptation” that we have “no false needs…we have not been duped by hegemonic brainwashing capitalists into desiring things we don’t need.” We need sunscreen! We just need to be aware that marketers know that we do. Sunscreen brands will go to extremes to get us to buy their product to make a profit, even if it gives some customers a fatal result. Although this selfish marketing is unethical, it is just a way of getting us to buy their product.

So as beach weather is approaching, the next time you are browsing down the aisle for some sun protection, make sure you know you are buying the product that will be most effective. The FDA has released safety tips for picking the right one when you are trying to find a suitable sunscreen to pack in your beach bag!

Katey Alston