We all know that sunscreen is an essential part of our skin care regime, but what do you really know about the products you use? The FDA has just announced new guidelines for sunscreen labeling that are designed to give consumers more information about the effectiveness of the sunscreen we use. While the changes won’t be enforced until next year, summer has unofficially arrived, which means now is a great time learn about the jargon on your tube of sunscreen and what it really means. Click through to discover what your sunscreen bottle is telling you and what the FDA’s new guidelines will mean for you.
Products will no longer be allowed to claim a SPF value higher than 50: Studies have found that sunscreens with an SPF value higher than 50 don’t actually provide greater protection than a sunscreen with a value of SPF 50.
Products will no longer be labeled as “sunblocks”: Given that no product can actually “block” the sunlight, the FDA feels that this term can be misleading.
Products will no longer be labeled as “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” and labels must now state how long your protection while swimming will last—either 40 minutes or 80 minutes: In normal circumstances, you should reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours. However, you should reapply more often if you are swimming or sweating.
Select products with an SPF Value of 15 or higher will be labeled “Broad Spectrum”: If a product is labeled “Broad Spectrum,” it means that the product provides protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB, while both UVB and UVA can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and skin aging.
Products that are not labeled “Broad Spectrum” or are labeled “Broad Spectrum” with a SPF value of 2 to 14 will come with a Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: These products must carry a warning saying they have been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or skin aging.
On a side note, it is always a good idea to follow a few unofficial guidelines when you are out in the sun. Firstly, always limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Secondly, where possible, where protective clothing and accessories, like sunglasses and hats. Happy summer!