Warning: Sunscreen Pills Don’t Work, the FDA Says

Photo: Stocksy/Lyuba Burakova
As nice as it would be to pop a pill that strengthens your skin and protects it from dangerous UV rays just as effectively as sunscreen, the reality is, they just don't work, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—and the federal agency is going after the companies that are trying to convince people otherwise.

In a new press release, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, confronts the new trend, saying the companies that are illegally selling products have been sent warning letters and must correct all violations—particularly the claims that their pills can protect people from the sun.

"There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen," Dr. Gottlieb says. "These companies 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."

"There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen." —Scott Gottlieb, MD

Right now, the products in question—including GliSODin Skin Nutrients' Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Napa Valley Bioscience's Sunsafe Rx, Pharmacy Direct's Solaricare and Sunergized LLC's Sunergetic—will be going through some rebranding to prevent any possibility that consumers are misled about their sun protection. And, it's honestly easy to be fooled: The first product in particular isn't sold on some sketchy website—you can get it from trusted online retailers, where it promises to "enhance photo-protection" and "strengthen your skin’s defenses against ultraviolet radiation." Someone even left a review that it was prescribed by their dermatologist because they "have high sun exposure."

Currently, the companies have been instructed to "take prompt action" to resolve the issues—and in the meantime, hopefully anyone who already has a bottle at home and is using it as a sunscreen alternative tosses it out ASAP.

Here's why your sunscreen might be staining your clothes—and how to prevent it. Or, find out why you should wear sunscreen on daytime flights.

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