FDA has drafted new sunscreen guidelines to protect consumers. These rules revolve around sunscreen labeling, sunscreen testing and sunscreen formulas, and will come into effect this summer.
"This new information will help consumers know which products offer the best protection from the harmful rays of the sun. It is important for consumers to read the entire label, both front and back, in order to choose the appropriate sunscreen for their needs", says Lydia Velazquez, PharmD, in FDA's Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development.
Here are the main FDA sunscreen rules you should be aware of!
FDA Sunscreen Rules 2013: Broad Spectrum Protection
Beginning with this summer, a FDA approved sunscreen will be labeled as providing "Broad Spectrum Protection". This sunscreen labeling entails the fact that the product provides both UVB and UVA rays protection, though not stating to which extent.
Furthermore, according to the new SPF guidelines, a "Broad Spectrum" sunscreen should also be labeled as having at least a SPF 15, specified on the front.
As a result, a FDA approved sunscreen, having both "Broad Spectrum Protection" and at least a SPF 15 label, is considered to minimize the risk of sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging.
On the contrary, if a sunscreen is not labeled "Broad Spectrum" and has a lower SPF (between 2 and 14), the FDA warns customers that this particular product is not safe.
FDA Sunscreen Rules 2013: Water-Resistant, Not Waterproof
The new sunscreen guidelines cover also the water resistance of a particular product. If, until now, sunscreens could be labeled as "waterproof", now the more appropriate terminology is "water-resistant".
A FDA approved sunscreen will have to state on the front label for how long the assessed protection is provided, when in contact with water, in case of sweating or swimming. According to test results, only two times will be allowed: 40 minutes, and 80 minutes, respectively.
FDA Sunscreen Rules 2013: Sunscreens Labeled up to SPF 50
If you still find on the market sunscreens that have a SPF higher than 50, you should know that they're no longer FDA approved. The new sunscreen guidelines state that any product claiming to provide a superior protection (more than SPF 50) should be labeled as "SPF 50+". The FDA does not have enough data to demonstrate if a SPF higher than 50 is actually more efficient.
FDA Sunscreen Rules 2013: No Sunscreen Sprays
The FDA has banned the use of sunscreen powders, and has issued a warning concerning sunscreen sprays, as data on the protection provided by the latter is insufficient.