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Senate Passes Bill for Better Sunscreen

TIME Health
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The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to current pending sunscreen ingredients within a shorter period of time — an important factor in ensuring that people have the most up-to-date ways to protect their skin from cancer-causing UVA rays, proponents of the legislation have argued.

While skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S., eight sunscreen ingredients have been pending in FDA backlog for years — some for over a decade — even while several of the pending ingredients have already been used in Europe and Asia for years.

As TIME reported in May, proponents for sunscreen modernization were optimistic that a bipartisan bill, the Sunscreen Innovation Act, would pass over the summer. The bill, which also requires the FDA to respond to all potential sunscreen ingredients in the future within a year and a half at maximum, moved along quickly through the summer months. A version of the bill was passed by the House in July. Now, the House and Senate will meet to agree on a final legislation of the bill. Once they reach consensus, it will go to President Obama to sign.

"The two bills are pretty darn similar, so we don't anticipate the negotiation will be contentious," says Michael Werner, policy adviser of the Public Access to SunScreens Coalition.

One of the reasons it takes so long for sunscreen ingredients to get approval in the U.S. is because of the regulation process that the FDA currently has in place. In Europe, ingredients are regulated as cosmetics, but in the U.S. sunscreens are go through a process similar to drug approval, which takes longer and has more safety requirements.

However, many ingredients had not received any feedback from the FDA, not even negative feedback, which prompted skin-care advocates and policymakers to question why the FDA had taken so long to respond, even given the excuse of a stringent system.

As the bill began to move through the voting process, the FDA started responding to some of the pending applications.

Read more of TIME's coverage on the sunscreen bill here.

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