Your 10 new sunscreen rules
New Sunscreen Rules
The FDA has been considering new sunscreen regulations for decades, and finally, a decision is here! The new rules, which were announced yesterday, will take effect next year. Here are the main changes you should know about:
â¢Any sunscreen with an SPF less than 15 will have to carry a warning saying that it will not protect against skin cancer.
â¢The terms "waterproof" and "sweatproof" may no longer be used."These claims overstate their effectiveness," says Darrell Rigel, MD, past president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. "Instead, the FDA will require waterresistanceclaims on the front label to indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Sunscreens that are not water resistant must advise consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating."
â¢The term "sunblock" is also being banned.This term also overstates effectiveness, says Dr. Rigel. "Sunscreens cannot 'block' the damaging rays of the sun; they can only provide protection for a limited period of time, and they need to be reapplied every two to three hours spent outdoors."
â¢A sunscreen can only be labeled as having "broad spectrum protection" if it truly protects against both UVA and UVB rays.(The SPF rating only refers to protection against UVB rays, but both types are damaging.) "Previously, manufacturers could claim that their sunscreen offered 'broad spectrum' protection without demonstrating any proof that it has sufficient protection against UVA," explains Jennifer A. Stein, MD, PhD assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "The new FDA regulations will require manufacturers to demonstrate both UVA and UVB protection in order to use the label 'broad spectrum.'"
Since these rules won't be enforced until next year, you may be wondering what to buy right now. Dr. Stein and Dr. Rigel both agree that you should choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. "Look for ingredients such as zinc and titanium, which offer both UVA and UVB protection," says Dr. Stein.
Also, remember that sunscreen is just one component of a sun-protective plan. "To protect yourself from sun damage, it's also important to seek shade and wear protective clothing," says Dr. Stein. Dr. Rigel suggests wearing a hat with a full, wide brim to help prevent rays from reaching your neck, ears, eyes, forehead and scalp. "If any unusual spots appear on your skin, get them checked out immediately by your dermatologist," says Dr. Rigel.
Video: FDA New Sunscreen Rules explained by Henry Ford's Dr. Henry Lim
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