Sunscreen Labeling Change

On The Quick

Sunscreen Labeling Change

Finally, it's less confusing

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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The labeling on sunscreens is going to change within the next year (two years for small manufacturers), and it is about time. The confusion over UVB, SPF, and UVA is almost as bad as the confusion over cough and cold medications. It is difficult under the current system to judge what is safe and effective against not only the discomfort of burns but also skin cancer and wrinkling.

Manufacturers must back up claims


As yet, no one thinks a screen with a rating above SPF 50 is any more effective than those with lower ratings. Higher levels may be useful for a very limited group, but the trade-off is in safety.

Under the new labeling required by the FDA, only those products that protect against both UVA and UVB can carry the label “broad spectrum,” and only a SPF level of 15 or greater will suffice to claim protection against skin cancer and wrinkling. Manufacturers will not be allowed to claim their products are water-proof or sweat-proof, because they are not. Instead they will be able to state, based on tests, how many minutes the product is water-resistant.

Takes a full shot glass of sunscreen to cover the body

Most important to remember is that lab tests use about three times the amount of sunscreen than does the average user. And effectiveness diminishes with time. All products need to be reapplied in very generous amounts every two hours.

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