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New FDA Standards for Sunscreen Announced

This week the Food and Drug Administration announced new, long-deliberated safety standards for sunscreen labels. The new requirements, which will take effect next summer, will help parents better assess the sun protection benefits of a given product, including protection against both types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB.

New Sun Protection Specifics:

  • Only products with a minimum sunburn protection factor (SPF) of 15 AND equal protection from both UVA and UVB rays will earn the new “broad spectrum” protection claim
  • Products with a lower SPF or which do not equally protect from both types of harmful radiation will have to warn that they do not protect against skin cancer or early skin aging (UVA causes wrinkles, while UVB is the cause of sunburns – but both cause cancer)
  • New labels will also eliminate exaggerated claims such as “sweat-proof” and “waterproof”. Going forward manufacturers will only be able to state the amount of time that testing showed the products to be “water-resistant” – either 40 or 80 minutes.
  • The FDA is continuing to review a proposal to cap SPF at 50 since there appears to be no sun-protection value beyond that level
Dermatologists hailed the changes. Nevertheless, they also stress that consumers need to adequately use sunscreens to benefit from the new regulations. A broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30-50 will still need to be reapplied every 40 to 80 minutes to be effective.
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