Source: Wall Street Journal
The FDA’s much-anticipated new sunscreen rules are out, nearly four years after the agency originally proposed changes.
Though we’re all used to picking a sunscreen on the basis of its sun protection factor (SPF), that number refers only to UVB rays, which cause burning and skin cancer. The longer-wavelength UVA rays can wreak their own damage, though, including playing a role in premature aging and contributing to skin cancer. (Here’s how the Skin Cancer Foundation explains the types of radiation.)
The FDA is now requiring sunscreens to indicate whether they protect against UVA rays, too. If you see “Broad Spectrum SPF” on the label, that means the product has cleared the agency’s bar for protecting against both types of ultraviolet radiation. And the SPF value will indicate the degree of that protection.
Only broad spectrum-designated sunscreens with SPF values of 15 and up can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging (if used as directed and along with other protection measures.) Sunscreens that don’t carry the broad spectrum label or that do, but have an SPF of between 2 and 14, can claim only that they help prevent sunburn, the FDA says.
Separately, SPF levels would be capped at 50 — since the agency says there’s not enough data higher SPFs provide significantly more protection — under a proposed FDA rule.
Changes first proposed by the FDA back in 2007 included a four-star rating system to characterize UVA protection; that was scrapped on concerns it would be overly complicated, Dow Jones Newswires reports.
In addition, sunscreens will no longer be labeled as waterproof or sweatproof, nor can they be called sunblocks. “These claims overstate their effectiveness,” the FDA says. Sunscreens labeled as water-resistant are permitted, but the product label has to indicate whether it will be effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
Here’s what the new labels will look like.
Read from last year’s series of posts answering your sunscreen questions, including why you need to apply it before going into the sun, what it means to be allergic to the sun and whether you should avoid sunscreen to get some vitamin D.
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