New Sunscreen Labeling Rules
In June 2012, new federal sun- screen labeling requirements will take effect. Prior rules on sunscreens dealt primarily with protection against ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburn, and did not address ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation. UVA rays cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. The key points of the new requirements are as follows:
- Sunscreens that pass the FDA’s test for UVA protection relative to UVB protection will be designated as providing broad-spectrum protection. Previously, a sunscreen’s SPF was based only on its UVB protection.
- Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures. Other sunscreens can only claim to help prevent sunburn.
- Sunscreen cannot be identified as “sunblock,” “waterproof,” or “sweatproof,” or claim protection is instant or lasts for more than two hours without FDA approval.
- Clear labeling on the front must indicate the duration of water resistance (up to 40 or 80 minutes). Sunscreens that are not water resistant must direct consumers to use a water-resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.
- All sunscreens must include standard “drug facts” information on the back and/or side of the container. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone apply water-resistant sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection of SPF 30 or higher on dry skin 15 minutes before going into the sun, as well as lip balm with an SPF of 30 or greater, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily. VS