Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New FDA Sunscreen Labeling

Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the new rules regarding labeling of sunscreen.  The goal is to make it easier for the average person to chose a sunscreen. 
The new labels will not be in place until next summer, so you need to be aware.
When the new labels are in place, NO sunscreen will be allowed to be labeled as a SUNBLOCK or as WATERPROOF.  
Under the new labeling rules
  • Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test.
  • 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.
  • A warning statement will be required on any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14 stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
In addition to the final rule for sunscreen labeling, the FDA released a Proposed Rule which would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +”, because there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.
Sunscreens who use the claim of being water-resistant will be required to note how long the product resists being rinsed away while swimming.  In other words, will it rinse off within 15 minutes in the water or last 2 hours.  It is important to remember, no sunscreen is “towel resistant” and can easily be removed toweling off.  It is important to reapply your sunscreen.
It is recommended that a sunscreen labeled as both broad spectrum and SPF 15 be used to protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.  Both types of radiation contribute to skin cancer and premature skin aging.  Sunburns are primarily caused by UVB rays, so simply preventing of a sunburn doesn’t necessarily mean good protection from future skin cancer.
Proper Use of Sunscreen: 
  • Apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside.  Reapply every two hours when outside at a beach, etc. for adequate protection.
  • Use enough. To ensure that you get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full.
  • Reapply after getting out of the water or toweling off. Even "water-proof" sunscreens are not usually "towel-proof".
  • Use even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun's ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. In addition, sand reflects 25% of the sun's rays and snow reflects 80% of the sun's rays.
  • Don't forget to apply lip balm with SPF 15 or higher.

Other Sun Safe Practices:
  • Staying in the shade, especially between the sun’s peak hours (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.).
  • Covering up with clothing, a brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Avoiding tanning and UV tanning booths.

ABC News has a nice piece:  Consumer Reports Health Rates Sunscreens
After testing 22 spray-on, cream and lotion sunscreens, Consumer Reports gave top honors to the least-expensive products.
The magazine recognized three "Best Buys" that provided excellent water-resistant protection for less than 88 cents per ounce: Up & Up Sport SPF 30 by Target; No-Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45; and Equate Baby SPF 50.  ……..

Related blog posts:
Sun Protection (March 19, 2009)
Melanoma Review (February 25, 2008)
Melanoma Skin Screening Is Important (April 29, 2009)
Tanning Beds = High Cancer Risk (August 3, 2009)
Skin Cancer (March 24, 2010)
Safety of Sunscreens (June 14, 2010)
Dear 16-Year-Old Me (May 18, 2011)

FDA Press Release; June 14, 2011;  FDA Announces Changes to Better Inform Consumers About Sunscreen
FDA:  Sunscreen


Elaine Schattner, MD said...

Nice post, Ramona, in terms of explaining the different types of UV and sunscreens. I do worry, though, that we're using too much of the stuff.

rlbates said...

Elaine, I know. If folks would just use some of the safe sun tips and stay out of tanning beds.