The FDA’s highly anticipated new sunscreen labeling rules went into effect for all products this spring, making it easier for consumers to figure out what their sunscreen actually has to offer.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and has no maximum in the U.S.—unlike Europe, whose products must be SPF 50 or below. The FDA says there is no evidence sunscreen with an SPF higher than 50 offers any additional protection, even though products claim to be SPF 80 or 90.
UVA rays are believed to cause premature aging and UVB causes redness associated with burns. A sunscreen that doesn’t protect against both UVA and UVB can’t claim it has broad spectrum protection, or claim to prevent skin cancer and premature aging, according to the new labeling rules.
Sunscreens not meeting an SPF of 15 or higher for both UVA and UVB must carry the warning “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of sun cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
Labels also can’t claim the product is “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” which can mislead consumers into thinking they don’t have to reapply. Instead they can promote it as being “resistant,” and they must use the word “sunscreen” instead of “sunblock.” Additionally, manufacturers must specify the amount of time after which the sunscreen should be reapplied.
Hate wearing Sunscreen? The No-Excuses Guide to New Sun Protection Products gives you a solution to all your sunscreen problems.