New Regulations for Sunscreen
One American dies of melanoma every single hour, contributing to a sobering 3.5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year. In fact, it's the most common cancer for women in their early twenties. Reaching for your sunscreen yet? We hope so. And soon, protecting yourself from the sun may be easier than ever. This morning, the FDA held a press conference to announce some long-awaited new regulations for the sunscreen industry. Here's what you need to know:
More accurate labeling is coming soon. In the past, sunscreens have been able to claim a high SPF (the measure of UVB protection), but still have wimpy UVA protection. Under the new regulations, sunscreens must contain proportional broad spectrum protection. (And if a sunscreen fails to meet these standards, it must contain a warning on the packaging that states that it is not shown to protect skin cancer or early aging.)
The terms sunblock, waterproof, and sweatproof are going away. They're being eliminated because they give consumers a false sense of protection. Water- or sweatproof sunscreens will now be labeled "water resistant," and will be required to list how much time the consumer can expect to get the sun protection listed on the label while swimming and sweating.
Sunscreens are safe. After questions were raised about the safety of nanoparticles in sunscreens, the FDA began its own investigation. They recently conducted testing on animals and concluded that nanoparticles found in zinc oxide and titanium oxide do not penetrate the skin.
A cap on SPFs over 50 may be coming soon. The FDA is still considering capping SPFs at 50 (meaning no more SPF 100 products), since there isn't sufficient data that higher numbers offer any greater protection. What's more, experts say these high SPFs can give consumers a false sense of security.
You can expect to see the new sunscreen labels hitting shelves next summer, but until then, protect yourself by incorporating the following preventative measures into your daily routine:
-Liberally apply and reapply a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen of 30 or higher every two hours.
-Seek shade and limit your time in the sun, especially during the afternoon.
-Wear protective clothing—long sleeves and pants—and sunglasses.