The FDA has issued new guidelines for sunscreen labeling that should make it easier for parents to choose which products are best for their children.
Also, for the first time ever, the labeling is allowed to claim that sunscreens protect against skin cancer and early skin aging.
The new proposals are designed “to reduce consumer confusion,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation tells the Los Angeles Times.
Here’s a look at exactly what you will see change on all sunscreen products:
Under the new guidelines, sunscreens may be labeled “broad spectrum” if they block UVB radiation and a certain percentage of UVA rays. Although UVB is the major cause of sunburn, both UVA and UVB cause early skin aging and skin cancer.
Products that are broad spectrum and have an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than 15 may be labeled to say that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. If a sunscreen has an SPF value lower than 15 it must now carry a warning that it has not been shown to reduce such risks.
Sunscreens will no longer be able to carry an SPF value higher than 50 – any rating above will now be obsolete. The highest category now will be 50+ because there is not enough evidence to show anything more than 50 does more.
Protective products will no longer be allowed to be labeled as “sunblock” because there is no evidence that they block all the radiation in sunlight. Products also may no longer be labeled “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” Instead, they can only be called “water resistant,” and labels must state clearly how long such protection lasts — either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.
The new labeling is required to be in place by next summer, but you’ll likely start seeing them a lot sooner.
Experts recommend everyone else use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Make sure you use enough. The recommended amount to cover your body should be a glob about the size of a golf ball. And remember, you shouldn’t apply sunscreen to children under six months old, although I dab a little here and there. Not all sunscreens are safe. Here’s a great article on how to pick the right sunscreen for your family.
Image: flickr.com/HB Art