July 17, 2014 5:54 AM EDT

For more than a decade, U.S. consumers have had to make do with less advanced sunscreens than folks in other developed nations. That’s because the FDA hasn’t approved a single new screening ingredient since 1999. A bipartisan bill to speed the process took a step closer to becoming law July 15. Here’s what both sun worshippers and shade freaks should know about the delay:

• Since 2002, eight new sunscreen ingredients, some of which are on the market in Asia and Europe, have been awaiting FDA approval. The agency says the backlog is the result of a careful safety-review process.

• Backers of the Sunscreen Innovation Act contend that many of the ingredients pending FDA approval are considered safe elsewhere and protect better against UVA rays than currently permitted sunscreens.

• If the bill is passed, the FDA will have to decide on the eight stalled ingredients within a year and on all new applications within 18 months.


This appears in the July 28, 2014 issue of TIME.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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