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Sunscreen Labeling Guidelines Changes by FDA for 2013

New Sunscreen Guidelines

Summer is right around the corner and proper protection from the sun is essential in preventing skin cancer, damage and as well as premature skin wrinkles. However, can you understand sunscreen labels.

The latest statistics say 20% of the population will develop a skin cancer sometime in their life and that will include the most deadly skin cancer of all, melanoma.

With sunscreen labeling being so confusing and people not understanding what type of sunscreen is best for protection and how it should be applied, the FDA has set out to require more accurate labeling of products.

The FDA is requiring more accurate labeling of sunscreen products so that the public will know exactly what amount of protection that they are getting with their sunscreen and how the sunscreens should be applied.

"Sunscreen has always been an important tool in the fight against skin cancer, and these new regulations will greatly improve the consumer's ability to make smart decisions, at a glance, about a product's effectiveness simply by reading the label," dermatologist Dr. Zoe Draelos, a consulting professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, said. "Everyone, regardless of skin color, can get skin cancer, which is why it is important for people to properly protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays."

To reduce the risk of skin cancer, consumers should regularly use sun protection measures including:

  • Use Broad Spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats

"In order to get the term ‘broad spectrum’ on your sunscreen, you have to have a proportional amount of UVB and UVA protection,” said Dr. Darrell Rigel, Dermatologist.

Ultraviolet-A rays age the skin; Ultraviolet-B rays burn it. The FDA said new products that are not labeled broad spectrum or have an SPF of 14 or less must have a warning label to alert consumers that they're at risk.

The FDA is also considering to cap out the maximum SPF on sunscreen labels to 50-plus, saying there isn't enough evidence to prove that higher SPFs offer any more protection.

"It's a little bit controversial. There's advantages and disadvantages to having a high SPF on the label. The argument against the cap is that people do not apply sunscreen in the rated amount,” said Dr. Rigel.

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