If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is — and sunscreen pills are no different. Despite recent heavy marketing of sunscreen-in-a-pill supplements by several companies, there's actually no such thing as a sunscreen pill, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"We’ve found products purporting to provide protection from the sun that aren’t delivering the advertised benefits," said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in a statement. "Instead, they’re misleading consumers, and putting people at risk. Today, we sent warning letters to companies illegally marketing pills and capsules labeled as dietary supplements that make unproven drug claims about protecting consumers from the harms that come from sun exposure without meeting the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness."
Some of these misleading products include Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Sunsafe Rx, Soricare, and Sunergetic. According to the FDA, the companies that produce these dietary supplements are claiming that the products can help prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by sunlight, and even prevent skin cancer. Though the companies in question were all instructed to correct the violations immediately, the FDA still wants customers to remain on high alert for any other companies making similar unproven claims.
As a reminder, the FDA explained that truly legitimate sunscreens come in approved forms that are meant to be applied topically on the skin — not consumed through the mouth — including lotions, creams, sticks, and sprays. Sunscreens are also required to past several tests before they're sold in stores. As you may already be aware, the labeling requirements for sunscreen have changed quite a bit over the years, as new research on sunlight exposure emerges.
At the moment, the FDA is conducting research on certain active ingredients in sunscreens to be sure customers are getting the absolute best in terms of both safety and effectiveness of their sunscreen. But for the time being, there's one sun safety tip you can absolutely count on.
"There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen," said Dr. Gottlieb.
It's official: Don't leave home without applying sunscreen — and forget products that claim otherwise.
h/t NBC News