In case you haven’t heard, on June 14, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new SPF guidelines as it relates to how sunscreens are marketed in the US. The old rules specifically focused on the protection against sunburn. The new rules are intended to help consumers select products that will protect against sunburn, reduce the risks of skin cancer and early skin aging.
Here are the main changes:
-In order to be considered a “Broad Spectrum SPF”, sunscreens must prove to the FDA that they are effective in protecting against UVA rays as well as UVB rays.
-“Broad Spectrum” formulas with an SPF of 15 or higher can claim that, if used with other sun protective measures, they can prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer and reduce the risk of early skin aging. Non-Broad Spectrum sunscreens and Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 2-14 can only claim to help reduce sunburn.
-Sunscreen manufacturers will not be able to label products as “waterproof”, “sweatproof”, or “sunblock”.
-Sunscreens will be labeled with the amount of time they have proven to be water resistant (40 or 80 minutes). If a sunscreen is not water resistant, the manufacturer must instruct consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.
-All sunscreens must include standard “Drug Facts”. (See sample picture below)
-There is also a proposal that suggests sunscreen manufacturers do not exceed an SPF of 50 because there is not enough data to support that a higher SPF provides better protection than other ones.
Most companies (with the exception of very small ones) will have to adhere to these new guidelines by the summer of 2012. Remember sunscreen is only one form of protecting yourself from the sun and should be applied to all exposed areas of the skin and then reapplied every two hours. You should also wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses when headed out into the sun.
For more information about these proposed changes, check out this article by the FDA.