Nix the “Drinkable Sunscreen”

Certain diet, health, fitness and beauty aid manufacturers occasionally impress with the boldness—when combined with the sheer fraudulence—of their claims. The latest effrontery for profit is particularly alarming as we approach the dog days of summer. It’s a good idea to make sure young people, in particular, are made aware of the new pseudoscience since they may well be among the most exposed.

As reported online in the WebMD Newsroom, shortly before Memorial Day, Osmosis Skincare began aggressively promoting its drinkable sunscreen. The consumer is instructed to take two milliliters with two ounces of water for every four hours in the sun. The “UV Neutralizer Harmonized Water” supposedly uses “cellular vibrations” and “isolates the precise frequencies” needed to “neutralize” both UVA and UVB. The result is protection from the sun. The claims are beyond irresponsible; they are dangerous.

Recently released data show an alarming increase in skin cancer incidence: A study in the Archives of Dermatology revealed that more than two million people in the U.S. develop a total of over 3.5 million nonmelanoma skin cancers every year. This includes both basal and squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common types. The jump constitutes a more than 300% increase in skin cancer incidence since 1994, when rates were last estimated.

The makers of the new drinkable sunscreen say their product allows for 30 times more sun exposure “than normal.” Its listed ingredients are distilled water and “multiple vibrational frequency blends.” WebMD reports that a 100-ml bottle of UV Neutralizer, either tan-enhancing or non-tan-enhancing, sells for $30 online. They write that, “Other formulas of Osmosis harmonized water claim to aid vigor or joint health, and combat hangovers, among other purposes.”

Notwithstanding the company founder’s claim that the beverage contains frequencies that “cancel out UV radiation,” dermatologists declare it ridiculous. WebMD quotes David J. Leffell, MD, the David Paige Smith Professor of Dermatology & Surgery at Yale School of Medicine: “It’s scientific gibberish. Unless they are willing to present scientific, peer-reviewed data to support these claims, we have no choice but to dismiss it.”

Furthermore, ingesting something internally to provide a benefit that you can achieve by external means is usually a mistake. The American Academy of Dermatology felt the need to address the product’s claims directly, saying in a statement that the Academy, “wants to alert consumers that this drink should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen or sun-protective clothing. There is currently no scientific evidence that this ‘drinkable sunscreen’ product provides any protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays.”

Osmosis claims that, “If 2 mls are ingested an hour before sun exposure, the frequencies that have been imprinted on water will vibrate on your skin in such a way as to cancel approximately 97% of the UVA and UVB rays before they even hit your skin.”

This claim is followed by the forewarning that the water does not work for everyone, failing to provide protection for “less than 1% of the population.” They recommend users test its effectiveness first, and suggest those taking medication that increases sun sensitivity take extra precaution.

Sunscreen—typically an SPF of 30 applied every few hours—is the only form of sun protection that is recommended and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to Osmosis, the FDA has not reviewed the product.

Osmosis Skincare, osmosisskincare.com

WebMD Newsroom, May 23, 2014, “Drink Your Sunscreen?” by Kathleen Doheny, http://blogs.webmd.com/breaking-news/2014/05/drink-your-sunscreen.html

Skincancer.org, 2014, Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Incidence Jumps by Approximately 300 Percent

American Academy of Dermatology, Statement on Drinkable Sunscreen, May 22, 2014, http://www.aad.org/stories-and-news/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-statement-on-drinkable-sunscreen

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