A new analysis shows that Amazon consumer reviews are not accurate when assessing the effectiveness of a sun protection product. In fact, the review found that 40 percent of sunscreens highly recommended by Amazon users fell short of skin care doctors’ guidelines.
Study authors noted that it doesn’t take much from a sunscreen to win the American Academy of Dermatology’s approval, but about 40 percent of top-selling products didn’t.
The academy recommends sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher with a “broad spectrum” labeling. Broad spectrum means that the products shield the skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, sunscreen should not wash off easily, the academy recommends.
A faulty sunscreen can trick consumers into spending more time in the sun and boost their risk of skin cancer. So, rather than buying an ineffective sunscreen you should wear instead protective clothing.
More than 5.5 million U.S. residents are diagnosed with a non-fatal form of skin cancer such as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers every year. These types of cancers do not result in death if they are treated.
About 76,000 unlucky Americans develop melanoma every year. Even though, these cases represent only 2 percent of total cases they are tied to the most fatalities. Skin cancer is even more widespread than breast or prostate cancers.
According to survey, most Americans are aware that sunscreens are powerful allies against skin cancer, but only 30 percent of adults actually use them or take other precautionary measures such as staying in the shade during peak sun-hours.
A group of researchers at Northwestern University were curious to learn whether consumer preferences for some sun protection products matched the products’ safety. For their study, they analyzed sunscreens sold on Amazon.com, which sells nearly 10 percent of all sunscreen.
Researchers noticed that there were about 6,500 different products, so they had to focus only on 1 percent based on consumer reviews and ratings. Study authors found that 11 percent of the top consumer-rated products had a solar protection factor lower than the recommended 30.
Additionally, 8 percent of surveyed products did not provide broad spectrum protection, while 38 percent were not sweat- or waterproof.
Next, the research team analyzed the top 10 sunscreens based on the amount of reviews. Of these, five were not resistant to water.
Scientists believe that the large discrepancies between popularity and effectiveness were mainly due to consumers’ focus on peripheral factors such as odor, texture and difficulty to apply the sunscreens on skin.
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