As I type this, most of the country is in the middle of a heat wave. Temperatures here in DC have been in the high 90s with a heat index of over 100 degrees! I guess it’s safe to say that summer is in FULL effect even though it was tardy to the party! With summer in full swing, comes increased sun exposure and the need to increase our SPF coverage. Yes, brown girls…I’m talking to you here too! Contrary to popular belief, we too need increased SPF coverage in the blazing hot summer. While we have some natural protection thanks to the melanin in our skin, with the eroded ozone layer we are exposed to UVA and UVB rays at alarming rates so sunscreen is a MUST.
What many people may not be aware of, is that in June of 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized new labeling and other requirements for sunscreen products that took effect in December of 2012. The FDA is taken the following steps to help protect consumers while also standardizing how sunscreens are marketed and labeled. The measures taken by FDA include:
- final regulations that establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results
- a regulation that would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labeling to “SPF 50+”
Below is a round up of the labeling changes that you should look for on your sunscreen products and what these changes mean.
- Products that pass the broad spectrum test will provide protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). Under the new regulations, sunscreen products that protect against all types of sun-induced skin damage will be labeled “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) on the front.
- The back of sunscreens labeled as both “Broad Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) will include a statement that the product not only protects 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.
- Sunscreens that are not broad spectrum or that are broad spectrum with SPF values from 2 to 14 will be labeled with a warning that reads: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
- The terms “waterproof”, “sweat-proof” and “sunblock” will no longer appear on packaging.
- Water resistance claims on the front label must tell how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will be permitted on labels: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.
- Sunscreens cannot claim protection immediately on application (for example, “instant protection”) or protection for more than two hours without reapplication, unless they submit data and get approval from FDA.
- Additionally, the FDA is finalizing requirements that sunscreen products that have SPF values higher than 50 to be labeled as “SPF 50+.” The FDA feels there is not sufficient data demonstrating that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide additional protection compared to products with SPF values of 50.
Its important to note that the FDA only considers products in the form of oils, creams, lotions, gels, butters, pastes, ointments, sticks, and sprays to be over the counter (OTC) sunscreen products and eligible for approval to use these new labeling guidelines. Suncreen products in the form of wipes, towelettes, powders, body washes, and shampoo not eligible cannot be marketed as suncreen products without an approved application. For sunscreen spray products, the FDA is reviewing data to establish effectiveness and to determine whether they present a safety concern if inhaled unintentionally.
The changes that the FDA made only apply to the labeling, not the ingredients or the effectiveness of the products, the SPF content, or any other aspect of the product. If you are a bargain shopper, you might have noticed lots of high end and name brand sunscreen products popping up in closeout stores such as dollar tree, five below, big lots, family dollar and dollar general. From my research, it appears that these products are safe to use, though it is questionable if the SPF looses its effectiveness over time.
So there you have it PJs…everything u need to know about the new FDA sunscreen labeling guidelines. If you would like more information, check out the frequently asked questions page on the FDA website here.Previous Post: June favorites
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