Monday, June 20, 2011

New Rules for Sunscreen Labels from the FDA

When you walk down the sunscreen aisle at the drug store, the variety of products can seem endless. Each brand makes different claims about its ability to block the sun, stand up to sweat and swimming, or protect you while you tan.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released new regulations for sunscreens that will set standard guidelines to measure the effectiveness of sunscreen products. These new guidelines will go into effect next year in hopes of assisting consumers with the task of choosing a sunscreen. That, in turn, will hopefully make it easier for you to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful effects.

One of the changes to be implemented will be with the manufacturers of sunscreen, and what they can and cannot claim on their labels. Sunscreen can no longer be marketed as “sunblock.” Products that protect against UVA and UVB radiation will now be labeled “broad spectrum.” Sunscreens that do not protect against both UVA and UVB rays will carry a warning.

If a product wants to claim to lower the risk of cancer, it must be SPF 15 or higher; if they are lower than SPF 15, they will carry a warning. The FDA has also proposed that no product can be labeled higher than SPF 50.

Marketing claims such as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” are now prohibited. Water resistance will now be made in terms of time – 40 minutes or 80 minutes. The FDA is also taking a closer look at sprays. You should always be careful to accurately apply spray-on sunscreen, especially when it is breezy by the pool or at the beach.

It will take one full year for the new regulations to go into effect, so don’t expect to see a total change to that row of sunscreen labels in the drugstore until next summer. To read more details about the FDA regulations, visit

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