FDA Makes New Sunscreen Label Changes

Are you confused when you look at the bottle after bottle of sunscreen wondering which one is best? How high should your SPF level be? Is it really waterproof? How long will it protect my skin? Will it protect against skin cancer? You're not alone and the FDA is making it easier for you to shop for the best sunscreen.

Starting in 2012, look for new labels on your sunscreen bottles that will ease the confusion and make it easier to be an informed shopper. Here is what you can look forward to.

1. Broad Spectrum will Actually Mean Something
Right now, a sunscreen can say "Broad Spectrum" but there is no real way to know if it's blocking a good amount of UVA rays. But after the label change, if a sunscreen label says "Broad Spectrum", it really will have to have efficient coverage of both UVA and UVB rays.

The FDA is going to make sunscreens pass a broad spectrum test. Only those that efficiently block both UVA and UVB rays will have the label say "Broad Spectrum". We recommend you only buy the brands that DO have the broad spectrum label.

2. Reduces Cancer Risk? Reduces Early Aging Signs?
Right now any sunscreen can say it reduces skin cancer and early aging of your skin, but starting 2012, only sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher and broad spectrum coverage will be allowed to make such a claim. Those without broad spectrum and an SPF under 15 will only be allowed to say it prevents sunburn and hasn't been proven effective against skin cancer.

3. Sweatproof? Waterproof? I Don't Think So
You'll see no more of these claims because most sunscreens aren't sweatproof or waterproof, period. But, if a brand thinks they have a sunscreen that is, they'll be able to submit their claims to the FDA who will preform tests and either approve or deny their claim.
4. What About Water Resistant?
Check the label on your sunscreen bottle and chances are good that it says it provides effective coverage for up to 80 minutes while sweating or in the water. Some sunscreens definitely are water resistant, but now sunscreen manufacturers will need to have testing done to prove whether the sunscreen stays resistant for 40 or 80 minutes and it will be on the label.

If the sunscreen is not found to be water resistant, it must have a recommendation for consumers to use a sunscreen that is water resistant while sweating or swimming.

5. Claims of All Day Protection? Nope!
Sunscreen labels will not be able to say they provide anything longer than 2 hours of protection unless they again submit it to the FDA for approval.

6. Can Sunscreen Provide Instant protection?
If you don't already know, it takes sunscreen a good 15 to 30 minutes to start working effectively. No sunscreen will be able to state otherwise unless again, they submit their claims to the FDA for approval.

7. How High Should the SPF Level Be?
Confused on whether you should use the SPF 30 when you see SPF 75 or SPF 100 on the shelf next to it? Maybe you're one of those people who grab the highest level just to be safe? The FDA has a separate proposal that would stop companies from playing the SPF level game. If passed, sunscreens companies could only go as high as claiming SPF 50+ because once it gets that high, there isn't any proven data that shows going any higher offers any benefit.