The FDA has reigned in a little of the “Wild West” practices of advertising and labeling sunscreens and made some very important changes. This will change what you will look for when you pick up the can or bottle from the shelf.

The Food and Drug Administration is ordering sunscreen manufacturers to change the way they label their products to prohibit the use of some marketing terms and clarify others on sunscreen. The rules are designed to clear up confusion about “sun protection factor,” SPF, and other terms like “waterproof.”

SPF measures a sunscreen’s ability to prevent sunburn. However, this only measured ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Scientists now know that ultraviolet A (UVA) is a major cause of both aging and contributes to skin cancer.We need to take not of both types of the sun’s rays. The new FDA regulations will help by requiring any sunscreen that calls itself “broad spectrum” to protect against both UVB and UVA.

Many would also like a sunscreen that did not wash off in the water.

The FDA now says there’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. They all wash off in the pool, or with sweat. Starting next summer, the best a label will be able to claim is that a sunscreen is water resistant.


So how do we avoid cancer-causing rays while manufacturers change sunscreens and their labels?


Tan Wisely!


A- While a SPF of over 30 should be good enough on the UVB side, you should read the label and look for UVA protection as well. Next year, you will just look for “Broad Spectrum”

B- Look for current products to claim at least “water resistant”. Even with that claim, reapply at least every two hours.

C- Wear sun-protective clothing. Especially a brimmed hat.


The new labeling will say on the products 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 values indicate even higher levels of overall protection. Sunscreens not labeled as Broad Spectrum or that has an SPF value between 2 and 14, has only been shown to help prevent sunburn.


Of interest is that the FDA proposes to limit SPF to 50, an indication that they may feel that higher numbers are not a realistic measure of effectiveness.


There is no doubt that less sun exposure will leave you looking younger longer. Tan wisely!