New FDA Sunscreen Regulations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ushered in a new litany of regulations that attempts to clarify exactly what kind of coverage is in that bottle of SPF you’re buying. Chief among the new rules, sunscreens must now offer broad spectrum coverage of both UVA and UVB rays with at least an SPF of 15 in order to claim skin cancer and aging prevention. “Water/sweat proof” must be exchanged for “water/sweat resistant” (since no sunscreen is truly waterproof), and tested to either 40 or 80 minutes of undiluted wear in order to pass the test.

Towelettes and wipes, in addition to shampoos, can no longer claim SPF protection and sprays must submit data detailing effectiveness and safety against inhalation in order to qualify. The sunscreens that pass this test will provide protection against both UVB and UVA rays, and will cap off at “SPF 50+” (so no more of this 100+ business)

The new labeling will also tell consumers on the back of the product that sunscreens labeled as both “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) not only protect against sunburn, but, if used as directed with other sun protection measures, can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. For these broad spectrum products, higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) values also indicate higher levels of overall protection. By contrast, any sunscreen not labeled as “Broad Spectrum” or that has an SPF value between 2 and 14, has only been shown to help prevent sunburn. Experts say the most effective strategy is to look for both UVB and UVA protection on the label with an SPF of at least 30 and to apply the golf-ball sized amount it takes to truly deliver the promised protection. And while out frolicking in the sun, be sure to reapply every couple of hours. Consistency is key to optimal results.