After years of delay, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new sunscreen labeling designed to give consumers a better idea of the level of sun protection they are actually getting. The new regulations include testing procedures for manufacturers to ensure that products meet a minimum standard before they can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer or premature aging.
Sunscreen products that pass the FDA’s test for protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays may be labeled as “Broad Spectrum.” Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging. Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB radiation.
Under the new rules, sunscreens labeled as both Broad Spectrum and SPF 15 (or higher), may state that if used regularly, as directed, and in combination with other sun protection measures, the sunscreen will help prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and reduce the risk of early skin aging.
Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test, but only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.
Any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14, will be required to have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
The new labels also will tell consumers how much time they can use a "water resistant" product while either swimming or sweating before they lose protection and need to reapply. The terms waterproof, sweatproof, and sunblock will no longer be allowed on sunscreen labels as no product can completely block all the sun’s rays or be completely waterproof. The new regulations will become effective for most manufacturers in one year.
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Food and Drug Administration