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The Bottom Line On New FDA Sunscreen Guidelines

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. -Confucius

This is certainly true of sunscreens. “Broad spectrum, UVA, UVB, avobenzone, oxybenzone, parsol, sensitive skin, titanium dioxide, SPF 15, 30, 45, 50, 55, 60, 70, 75, 100, 100+, waterproof, sweatproof, spray, cream, lotion, antioxidant…”

We spend about $700 million in sunscreens every year, and many people don’t have a clue as to what’s good or bad, or a waste of money. The Food and Drug Administration has been meaning to help you out with this problem for a while now. Actually for over 30 years (who says nothing gets done in government?). The F.D.A. has made a final decision on sunscreen labels. They’ve sought to make labels simple and accurate to help you choose the right one:

1. The sunscreen must protect against both UVA and UVB rays; that is, it must be broad spectrum.

2. To be labelled as “protecting against skin cancer,” the sunscreen must be an SPF of at least 15. The labels will likely be capped at SPF 50 because SPFs greater than 50 seem to be of little additional benefit.

3. Sunscreens can no longer be labelled as “waterproof” or “sweat proof,” as neither is physically possible, therefore, rendering the claim “misleading.” Sunscreens will be labelled as effective in water for 40 minutes or 80 minutes which is accurate and much more useful.

This simple system should help consumers make better choices, but some say the F.D.A. didn’t go far enough. They did not comment on the safety of various sunscreen ingredients. They have also not loosened up enough to allow for other sunscreens that are widely used in Europe to be sold here in the U.S.

Do you think the F.D.A was too strict or didn’t go far enough?

Photo: Wandering Magpie, Flickr

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

What To Expect From The New Sunscreen Labels

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the new rules regarding labeling of sunscreen.  The goal is to make it easier for the average person to chose a sunscreen.

The new labels will not be in place until next summer, so you need to be aware.

When the new labels are in place, NO sunscreen will be allowed to be labeled as a SUNBLOCK or as WATERPROOF.

Under the new labeling rules

  • Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test.
  • Only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.
  • A warning statement will be required on any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14 stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

In addition to the final rule for sunscreen labeling, the FDA released a Proposed Rule which would Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Here Comes The Sun – But Where’s The Sunscreen?

Heading out for a family walk over the weekend, we barely got beyond the end of the driveway before we quickly turned back…sunblock. We forgot to goop! A quick retreat back to the garage, we all lathered up and were on our way.

Over kill for such a mild sun day? Not in our experience. We’ve not only been caught off guard before and had “low intensity” sun days create rather intense burns behind necks, knees and arms, but have a family history of melanoma that haunts us ever time we step outside. My husband’s dad lost his life to melanoma. He was in the Navy and sunblock wasn’t what it is today, nor was the treatment for melanoma. He didn’t have the control we do today and would be really upset with us for tossing caution to the wind with our skin and our kids.

But, over 2/3 of adults are doing just that! According to a new survey out by Consumer Reports National Research Center only 1/3 of us are actually using sunscreen.

As reported by ABC news, there are 1 million cases of skin cancer a year and counting, melanoma, a year with 90% of those related to sun-exposure. We are truly playing with fire every time we step outside without sunblock on.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a tan if you some common sense and use sunblock – SPF 15 or higher with UVA and UVB protection. The key is to avoid becoming a french fry and to remember to reapply the sunblock liberally and often (each hour is the expert recommendation). As Dr. Doris Day, a NYC dermatologist interviewed by ABC noted: “You need to go through sunscreen…One bottle should not last a summer.”

Kids, too, need sun protection and it’s a myth that babies can not have sunblock applied to their skin. Infants older than 6 months of age can have the sunscreen applied to the entire skin and infants under 6 months of age can have sunscreen applied to very exposed area such as the hands and face in just the amount needed to cover those areas.

By the way, sun protection isn’t just for our weekend warrior moments. Think of it as part of your every day skin care. If your kids walk to and from school, they need sun protection. If you walk outside during your work day, you need sun protection. Many daily moisturizers now include SPF 15 and are great for that daily purpose where you need a bit of protection but not the intense protection as you do on weekends when outdoors more.

So, go ahead and get outside and get some sun…just do it safely and take the few extra minutes to apply sun protection. It’s fine to get a tan but no tan is worth dying for and that’s the point we all have to remember.

For more tips on sun safety for infants and kids, click here and here.


*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*

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