While sunscreens are generally effective at filtering out ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause sunburn (UVB rays), they don't work as well at filtering UVA rays, which penetrate the skin deeply and are more likely to cause skin cancer and wrinkles.
Further, because many people believe that sunscreens offer complete sun protection, they stay out in the sun longer, which adds to the potential risk of skin cancer -- not realizing that they're only getting partial protection.
Misleading or confusing product labels are partly to blame for the widespread misinformation regarding sunscreens. In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said stricter rules for sunscreen testing and labeling would take effect in 2001, but this was put on hold indefinitely. In the fall of 2005, Congress ordered the FDA to produce the revised regulations within six months.
A San Diego-based law firm has also filed a lawsuit involving 10 California residents against the top sunscreen manufacturers Coppertone, Neutrogena, Playtex Products' Banana Boat, Tanning Research Laboratories' Hawaiian Tropic and Chattem Inc.'s Bullfrog.
The suit claims the manufacturers have made fraudulent label claims and seeks damages for injuries and other compensation.