Hello Holly |

Hello Holly: An Interview with Holly About the FDA Update on Sunscreen Regulation

In this Hello Holly, we chat with Holly about the recent appointment of Dr. Stephen Hahn as the FDA commissioner.

We said we’d update our friends and fans on the latest developments with the FDA’s review of sunscreen ingredients and regulations, and here’s some big news: Dr. Stephen Hahn, formerly the chief medical executive at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recently appointed as the 24th Commissioner of Food and Drugs (FDA). This is certainly a significant step towards getting more answers soon. 

Given our brand’s history with MD Anderson, we spoke to our founder and CEO, Holly, about our relationship with the hospital and research center…and how we think Dr. Hahn’s appointment is going to positively impact sunscreen regulation as a whole. 

First, let’s rewind a few years… Can you tell us more about our history with MD Anderson and why building a relationship with them was always important to you, even in the early days of Supergoop!? 

In late 2012, I learned that The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was launching an action plan called the Moon Shots Program. The goal of the program was to make giant leaps for patients suffering from many of the major cancers. The Melanoma Moonshot was part of the program and it included a youth sun safety education program called The Sunbeatables. This was co-developed with Scholastic, with the purpose of educating children, parents and teachers about sun protection and sun safety behaviors in an effort to reduce children’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. 

Since this was very aligned with my background in education and the Supergoop! mission, I quickly reached out to the team spearheading the program for a meet-and-greet in person. After meeting, the team realized that the Sunbeatables education needed to be combined with a healthy, efficacious and ingredient-conscious product to be effective. So, together, we decided to deliver both education and the SPF needed to prevent sun damage during the school day.

In 2017, we made our relationship with them “official,” so to speak, by partnering with them on how to teach kids about healthy sun habits. What did this entail, and what does it still involve to this day?  

Well, in the early years of the Sunbeatables program, state laws existed that prohibited schools from providing SPF in the classroom because sunscreen is classified as on over-the-counter (OTC) drug and is regulated by the FDA. We began advocating for a change in state policies by bringing an awareness to congress that these laws even existed. Interestingly, we found very few senators and state representatives were even aware this law existed. 

California, Texas and New York were first to change, and today, 24 states now have SUNucate laws to allow SPF in school, and four more states have bills pending. In 2018, we as a company announced our giving program, Ounce by Ounce. It was a perfect fit to collaborate with MD Anderson to figure out which schools were already learning about and embracing the importance of SPF during the school day hours.  

Talk to us about your relationship with Dr. Stephen Hahn, in particular, and what do you think his appointment to the FDA means to you and to the SPF industry?

I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Hahn but positioning a scientist, physician and a healthcare leader as commissioner can only be a huge win for the health of our nation. 

The skin cancer epidemic only exists because of a lack of attention to skin cancer prevention. As a renowned oncologist, Dr. Hahn is certainly in a position to understand the importance of our nation practicing daily sun protective habits and in having ingredient options that are inclusive of every skin type, tone and lifestyle.

Do you anticipate any of the FDA’s sunscreen regulations being resolved anytime soon?

That is a great question, and to be honest, it is hard to say — these sorts of things can take a long time to reach a final conclusion. What I do know is that in the meantime, we’ve dedicated the last 15 years to developing new ways to infuse SPF into your favorite products that have traditionally never been made with your skin’s health in mind.  

We have and will continue to advocate for skin health in D.C. and we will continue creating a community of SPF superfans. We’ve changed the once-seasonal suncare conversation to one that is relevant 365 days a year. And with this in mind, we sure do keep our fingers crossed for additional FDA support so that our industry has better access to healthy ingredient choices, keeping in mind that while skin cancer is an epidemic, it is also one of few cancers that is primarily preventable with the daily use of sunscreen.

+ Have more questions about Dr. Stephen Hahn being appointed as the FDA commissioner and what that means for the future of sunscreen? Leave them in the comments!