The FDA has recently announced changes regarding how over- the -counter sunscreen manufacturers label their products. The aim of the measure is to make sure that sunscreens meet modern day standards for safety and effectiveness. The new requirements are designed to help consumers make better choices for themselves and their families when purchasing sunscreens.
In the past, most sunscreens have provided protection against UVB rays from the sun. The UVB rays are those that cause our skin to burn. Equally, if not more important, are the UVA rays that contribute to premature wrinkling, aging and skin cancer. The FDA indicated that there is now sufficient testing available to determine which products meet both criteria and can be labeled as “broad spectrum” sunscreens. This should make it much easier for consumers to be able to choose products that offer them the best protection from both sunburn and the damaging effects from the UVA light exposure.
Under the new guidelines, only broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher can claim to help prevent premature aging, skin cancer and sunburn protection. For non-broad- spectrum sunscreens and broad -spectrum sunscreens with an SPF between 2-14, the claims must be limited to helping prevent sunburn.
The new rules also want manufacturers to eliminate the terms “waterproof”,”sweat-proof” and “sunblock” from their products, as they can be misleading or can overstate their effectiveness. Sunscreens cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than two hours without reapplication or claim to have “instant protection” without submitting proof to the FDA to support the claims.
Those sunscreens that claim to be water resistant must indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating, and the claims must be substantiated by standardized testing methodology.
There are new proposals down the line that have to do with SPF ratings and application methods for sunscreens. There is some doubt as to whether an SPF of over 50 provides much additional protection from the sun, as well as whether aerosol sprays can provide the same coverage as other application methods.
We support the FDA and their current efforts to help us all become better consumers when it comes to purchasing sunscreen. After all, our skin has to last us a lifetime.