What the FDA’s New Sunscreen Labeling Rules Mean for You

How to read the FDA’s New Sunscreen Labeling Rules

The FDA has recently released new sunscreen labeling rules. Here’s what important for you to know:

1. Sunscreen vs. sunblock: Only “sunscreen” can appear on the label. “Sunblock” will no longer be allowed since they can’t block the sun or prevent skin cancer and aging.

2. Broad spectrum: Look for sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” which means it protects against both skin-burning, cancer-causing UVB rays and skin-again, cancer-causing UVA rays.

3. SPF of 15 or higher: Only sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.

4. Water Resistant: Sunscreens can no longer claim to be “waterproof” or “sweatproof.” A “water resistant” claim must specify whether it provides 40 or 80 minutes of protection.

Photo credit: FCC, TomPurves

New FDA Guidelines on Sunscreens

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. -Confucius

This is certainly true of sunscreens. “Broad spectrum, UVA, UVB, avobenzone, oxybenzone, parsol, sensitive skin, titanium dioxide, SPF 15, 30, 45, 50, 55, 60, 70, 75, 100, 100+, waterproof, sweatproof, spray, cream, lotion, antioxidant…”

We spend about $700 million in sunscreens every year, and many people don’t have a clue as to what’s good or bad, or a waste of money. The Food and Drug Administration has been meaning to help you out with this problem for a while now. Actually for over 30 years (who says nothing gets done in government?). The F.D.A. has made a final decision on sunscreen labels. They’ve sought to make labels simple and accurate to help you choose the right one:

1. The sunscreen must protect against both UVA and UVB rays; that is, it must be broad spectrum.

2. To be labelled as “protecting against skin cancer,” the sunscreen must be an SPF of at least 15. The labels will likely be capped at SPF 50 because SPFs greater than 50 seem to be of little additional benefit.

3. Sunscreens can no longer be labelled as “waterproof” or “sweat proof,” as neither is physically possible, therefore, rendering the claim “misleading.” Sunscreens will be labelled as effective in water for 40 minutes or 80 minutes which is accurate and much more useful.

This simple system should help consumers make better choices, but some say the F.D.A. didn’t go far enough. They did not comment on the safety of various sunscreen ingredients. They have also not loosened up enough to allow for other sunscreens that are widely used in Europe to be sold here in the U.S.

Do you think the F.D.A was too strict or didn’t go far enough?

Photo: Wandering Magpie, Flickr

FDA Approves New Wrinkle Filler: Evolence

The FDA has approved a new treatment for wrinkles. It’s a collagen filler that can be injected into frown lines to smooth them out, giving your face a younger, smoother appearance. The product, Evolence®, lasts 6 months according to its maker, Colbar LifeScience, (a Johnson and Johnson-owned company). Continue reading “FDA Approves New Wrinkle Filler: Evolence”