Sunscreen comes in many forms, from lotions to sprays to creams — but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to steer clear of one formula in particular: so-called sunscreen pills.
The agency on Tuesday announced that it sent warnings letters to four companies claiming to make dietary supplements that can protect people from sun damage, and reminded consumers that, “There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen.”
The announcement specifically calls out four products — GliSODin Skin Nutrients’ Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Napa Valley Bioscience’s Sunsafe Rx, Pharmacy Direct’s Solaricare and Sunergized LLC’s Sunergetic — that it says “are putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun, or protect from the risks of skin cancer.” The companies have been directed to reverse all violations associated with their products and review their marketing claims.
A representative for Napa Valley Bioscience told TIME that, “Sunsafe Rx is made with ingredients that published clinical studies show protect skin from damage,” and that the product is useful for supplemental protection and for users with sensitive skin. “However, to be abundantly clear: the sun is dangerous, and UV rays damage your skin. We don’t market Sunsafe Rx as a sunscreen, and we certainly don’t tell consumers that they don’t need any other protection from the sun or that they don’t also need to use a topical sunscreen,” the statement says. “Everyone should exercise caution when exposed to the sun.”
TIME could not immediately reach GliSODin or Sunergized LLC for comment. A representative from Pharmacy Direct was not familiar with Solaricare.
The FDA is also supporting new research and regulations related to the safety and delivery of the active ingredients in conventional sunscreens, since growing evidence suggests some of them may be absorbed through the skin, according to the statement. “Given the recognized public health benefits of sunscreen use, the FDA is committed to finding ways to help bring a wider assortment of safe and effective sunscreen products to the public,” the statement says.