New FDA Sunscreen Label Rules Clear Confusion

Have a Happy and Healthy Summer

New FDA sunscreen labels can help

Have you been to the store for sun screen lately? Could it be any more confusing? Do you really need an SPF of 50? What does water resistant mean anyway?

Using sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from skin cancer, but with so many options, it has been hard to tell what works. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently stepped in with new labeling regulations to help consumers wade through the confusion. The labels you see on store shelves will start reflecting the new rules this summer.

Now when you see a sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum,” you will know that it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. If it has an SPF, or sun protection factor, of 15 or more, it can claim to protect you from cancer and early skin aging when used with other protective measures.

Sunscreens that are not broad spectrum or have an SPF of 2 to 14 can only claim to protect you from a sun burn, and they must be have a warning indicating that spending time in the sun increases your risk of cancer and early skin aging.

Sunscreens that claim to be water resistant must tell you more. They will say whether they are effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. They can no longer claim to be “waterproof” or “sweatproof.” You may, however, still see some bottles with that label as the regulations are phased in.

It’s important to note that sunscreens can’t claim to offer instant protection or protection for more than two hours unless they submit data and get approval from the FDA.

Although you may see sunscreens with an SPF higher than 50, the FDA said it doesn’t have adequate data to show they offer better protection.

Keep in mind that it’s not just the sunshine from the sky you have to worry about. The rays can be reflected from glass, water or sand, affecting you even if you wear a hat or sit under an umbrella.

Avoid these common mistakes:

  • Applying after going outside – sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before exposure in order to be absorbed into the skin.
  • Not using enough sunscreen – it can take about an ounce of sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, for adequate coverage, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
  • Not reapplying sunscreen – sunscreen should be re-applied after swimming or every two hours throughout the day.
  • Neglecting some areas of exposed skin – don’t forget your ears, neck and feet.
  • Using sunscreen only when sunny – Yes, you can get a burn on a cloudy day.

We at ella health wish you a very safe and happy Fourth of July.

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