FDA Approves Sunscreen Labeling Changes

Just yesterday, the FDA made some serious changes to its guidelines for sunscreen labeling. As you may know, this has been a concern of mine for years, and it is finally being addressed. When choosing a sunscreen, you need to consider protection from the rays that will burn your skin (UVB, and the number associated with the sunscreen) as well as protection from aging and potential cancer causing rays (UVA).

Many people don’t know that those ultraviolet A rays are the ones that cause wrinkles. They are so strong that they can penetrate glass and can travel even deeper into the skin than the UVB rays. When this happens, the UVA rays injure the cells in the basal layer of the epidermis (where most skin cancers occur) and damage the skin’s DNA. It is these changes or mutations that can lead to skin cancer.

What to look for: The label on the sunscreen you purchase should say “broad spectrum”. This means that, starting next year, it will provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.  SPF greater than 50 will only be labeled 50+ as there is so little difference between sunscreens above the 50 (UVB) rating (in terms of protection from burning in the sun).  The FDA did leave open the possibility that a company could claim higher than 50, if they could prove a significant difference deserving the higher value.

From my experience, I prefer longer acting UVA sun protection as found in La Roche Posay Anthelios line.  If you’re in a pinch and can’t find this brand, I also recommend Neutrogena.

Here is a list of some other changes the FDA has put into action:

  • The terms “waterproof” and “sweatproof” on sunscreen is now banned. The FDA says these are “exaggerations of performance.” Companies can use the term, “water resistant,” only if test results back up the claim, and they will have to say how many minutes the sunscreen can last in the water.
  • The phrase “sun block” will be banned because products don’t completely block the sun, they deflect it.
  • Only products with a SPF of 15 or higher can claim to lower the risk of cancer.

I am glad to finally see this new change being made to sunscreen labels. This will support our personal and effort to prevent skin cancer and premature aging.

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