In Touch with You Blog: Details

Soaking in the Summer Sun - New Sunscreen Labeling

Wow - I've now seen three articles in less than a week regarding the new FDA-required sunscreen labels so it must be important!
To try and whittle this information down to a quick read it really boils down to new FDA labeling rules and divide sunscreen products into two categories; those that can help prevent skin cancer and early skin aging as well as sunburn vs. products that are designed to only help prevent sunburn.
Until now, the SPF (sun protection factor) was the only gauge of a product's effectiveness. But SPF numbers still matter. Apparently SPF is a reliable measure of sunburn protection but it's not as dependable as a measure of protection against aging or getting skin cancer.
Doctors, and especially dermatologists, have been advocates of using broad-spectrum sunscreens that provide protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The difference between the two is that UVB is the main cause of sunburns. Therefore the SPF is mostly measuring how well the sunscreen prevents sunburn.
But for the UVA the FDA has declared that only products that protect against skin cancer and early skin aging as well as sunburn can be marketed as broad spectrum products. However, to go one step further the broad spectrum products must have an SPF of 15 or higher.
A couple of other notes from my readings - Sunscreens do not provide instant protection. You should apply it 15 minutes before enjoying the sun. Also water-resistant is not waterproof. If the label reads water-resistant it must tell consumers how often to reapply the lotion when swimming or sweating.
Lastly, sunscreen alone is not enough. Broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses, lightweight clothing to cover up when you're done with the sun along with shade and common sense are all part of being sun-savvy. School's out for the next several weeks for most youngsters so help them practice good sun exposure habits. Check with your doctor or dermatologist if you want additional information.
By Kathy Roche, Manager, Public Relations
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