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FDA unveils new labeling guidelines for sunscreen

Tanning has been in the news a lot lately, especially with the recent case of underage tanning. Whether intentionally sitting in the sun or partaking in outdoor activities, it’s important we start stocking up on sunscreen to protect ourselves from skin cancer.  Over the next six months you’ll start seeing some new designations on sunscreen labels.  The FDA announced that manufactures must make labeling changes so that consumers are properly informed about their products.  This step will help users better protect themselves from some of the sun’s harmful rays.  Here’s what you can expect: 

Broad-spectrum designation: Sunscreens that pass the FDA’s broad-spectrum test, to see if they protect against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, may be labeled as “Broad-Spectrum SPF” on the front label.

Use claims: Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can claim to reduce skin-cancer risk and early skin aging if used as directed with other protective measures. Other sunscreens, including those with an SPF value between 2 and 14, can claim only to help prevent sunburn.

Waterproof, sweatproof and sunblock claims: Sunscreens cannot be labeled as waterproof or sweatproof, or be identified as a sunblock, because those words overstate their effectiveness. Sunscreens cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than two hours without reapplication or to provide immediate protection without having submitted data to obtain FDA approval.

Water-resistance claims: “Water-resistance” labeling must indicate whether the sunscreen is effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. Other sunscreens must include a recommendation advising consumers to use water-resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.

Drug facts: All sunscreens must include standard drug-facts information on the back or side.

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