Starting in June 2012, new sunscreen guidelines from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will be required. Manufacturers must meet new labeling rules that address five main areas.
1. Broad Spectrum designation: Now, manufacturers must indicate how well the product protects against both UVA rays and UVB rays by using the term “Broad Spectrum SPF”.
In the past, sunscreens only had an SPF rating, which just addressed UVB rays. Containers stated “SPF 15” or above. The Broad Spectrum designation indicates protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Additionally, no products can show a Broad Spectrum SPF above 50. The FDA feels “there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50”.
2. Use claim: Only products that show a Broad Spectrum protection of SPF 15 or above can claim to reduce cancer if used as directed. “Non-Broad Spectrum sunscreens and Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value between 2 and 14 can only claim to help prevent sunburn”.
3. Water Resistance claims: Sunscreen must include how many minutes it remains effective when wet. For example, labeling might say “Water Resistant: 40 min”
4. Marketing Terms Limitations: Sunscreens can no longer state claims of “all day protection”, sweat proof, waterproof, instant protection or sunblock , which overstate the effectiveness of their products. They cannot claim that protection lasts longer than two hours without reapplication.
5. Drug Facts: All sunscreens must now list drug information on the back or side of the container like all other over-the-counter products.
Cosmetics that advertise sunscreen protection must also abide by the FDA labeling guidelines.
The new labels will look like this.
The FDA has worked for the last 30 years to develop these improved standards for sunscreen labeling protection. The reason they feel this is important is that both UVA and UVB rays contribute to risk of skin cancer.