New Rules to Keep You Safe in the Sun

New rules imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has changed the way sunscreen manufacturers can market their products.  Here’s what you need to know:

It’s Not Magic:  Sunscreen can no longer be called “waterproof” or “sweat-proof”.  It can say “water-resistant”, but has to indicate for how long it can reasonably be expected to be so. (40 or 80 minutes, based on testing)

Name Change: It can’t be called “sunblock” anymore, because it doesn’t actually block the sun.

SPF What?:  No sunscreen can claim to be anything over SPF (sun protection factor) 50.  Research done years ago proved that anything beyond SPF 50 was not any more effective than SPF 50.

Equal Protection:  Sunscreens that claim to be “broad spectrum” (meaning they protect from both UVA and UVB rays) have to have a SPF that is equal for both types of protection.  Before, a broad spectrum sunscreen may have provided a lower level of protection from UVA rays, even if it said SPF 30.

Claims:   Products can only advertise that they protect you from skin cancer if they are broad spectrum and contain at least SPF 15.  All sunscreens can only advertise sunburn protection if between SPF 2 and 14.

Information:  All products must contain “Drug Facts” information on the packaging.

Other Stuff Too:  Any products that claim broad spectrum SPF protection (cosmetics, lotions, etc.) will have to abide by the new rules.

But:  Sunscreens in “spray” or “wipe” form and those “built-in” to insect repellant are still being studied, so some rules don’t apply to those yet.

Effective Date:  The new rules became effective in June 2012, but because of the higher need for sunscreen products in summer months, the effective implementation date is December 17th for most over-the-counter sunscreen products.

In Summary:  You will still be able to buy lower-SPF sunscreen if you want to, but if you want protection from skin cancer and aging, you need to buy a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.  Still don’t think you need sunscreen?  Take a look at this photo of a truck driver who spent 28 years with the left side of his face exposed to UV rays while driving.  (He’s 69, by the way.)







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  1. Awesome post! Thank you! I’m the self designated sunscreen nazi. The kids are used to it by now and don’t “usually” complain. We apply, reapply & then reapply. I think its so important to protect both the little ones and adults alike. As you know, I have sunspots on my cheek bones and am always coated in sunscreeen. Old damage? Maybe, but it gets worse each year. 😦

    • My kids are old enough to go to the pool on their own now. I told them if they come home with sunburn, I’ll know they’re not responsible enough to go by themselves anymore. Guess what? My kids have become liberal users of sunscreen! They put it on before they leave and re-apply while they’re there. 🙂 Have you tried retinol for the sunspots yet? I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my “spots” (just damage, not sunspots) since my dermatologist prescribed it to me. I’m still thinking about the chemical peel he offered me. I know that would be a bigger improvement, but I don’t want to look like something out of a zombie movie in the middle of summer!

      • I am going to talk to the doc about a retinol script when I take Aby for her physicals. I’ve been putting off taking her b/c time is an issue. Isn’t it always? Of course, if I don’t have time to take her for something necessary, then I haven’t gone for me either. I’m definitley going to ask about it. And I bought another drug store bottle of the moisturizer with the retinol. Not sure it works but figure it can’t hurt, right? Any improvement I may have had has backslid now that the sun is out in full force again. I use that 45 Coola stuff on my face and still get marks from my sunglasses, my sun spots just keep getting darker.

  2. Wow! My hubby told me about this but seeing it is believing it! This is the reason we need to use SPF!! Great post and info thank you for sharing!


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