Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunscreen Products To Get a Makeover

This week the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued its final regulations for sunscreen products which establish standards for product testing, put limits on SPF values claimed on labels, and includes other regulations for manufacturers. This is in an effort to protect consumers from excessive sun exposure which causes skin damage and could lead to skin cancer. These regulations go into effect next year.  Here is a summary of what to watch for.

Products that claim "Broad Spectrum"
These products have to pass a standard test for all over-the-counter suncreen products. They have to provide protection agains both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). They will be labeled "Broad Spectrum" and "SPF 15" (or higher) on the front. The maximum SPF claim allowed will be "SPF 50+."

The back of these products will tell consumers that if used with other sun protection measures, these products can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.

Products that are NOT "Broad Spectrum"
Products not labeled as "Broad Spectrum" and with an SPF value between 2 and 14 have been shown to only prevent sunburn. These products will have a warning label that reads: "Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

Spray products
These products will have to provide the FDA with additional data regarding their effectiveness and safety if they are inhaled accidentally.

Water resistance claims
Products must state how much time a user can expect the claimed SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating. This is based on standard testing. Only two timing claims will be allowed, either 40 minutes or 80 minutes. No product will be allowed to claim that is "waterproof" or "sweatproof."

Other Claims
In addition to prohibiting "waterproof" and "sweatproof" claims, no products will be allowed to claim that it is a "sunblock."  Claims of immediate protection upon application are also prohibited. Products will not be allowed to claim that they give protection for more than two hours without reapplication unless the manufacturer submits data and gets approval from the FDA.

Sun Safety Tips
Stay safe in the sun.
  • Use "Broad Spectrum" sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher. Use them regularly and as directed. Reapply at least every two hours or more often if you are sweating or in the water.
  • Limit the time you spend in the sun. The sun's rays are the most intense between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Cover skin exposed to the sun. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.

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