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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*

Excess Sun Exposure Can Trigger Mole Development

Do you ever wish you didn’t have so many moles? It might be too late for you, but it doesn’t have to be for your kids. By reducing their sun exposure, you can reduce the number of moles (also called nevi) they develop.

Sunburns and excess sun exposure are triggers for moles to develop. Having lots of moles can be unsightly and increases their risk of developing melanoma later in life. Reducing excess sun will limit the number of moles they have and reduce their risk for melanoma many years from now.

Protect against sun to reduce moles.

Many of us grew up without good sunscreens (baby oil and iodine anyone?), but you can do so much more for your children: Read more »

*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*

How To Use Self-Tanners

Your doctor has told you not to use tanning beds anymore. Your skin is beginning to show more aging than your age should have. You have a family history of skin cancer and want to avoid it. Whatever your reason, you have decided to look at self-tanners as an alternative.

I applaud that decision, but remember to use safe sun practices and/or sunscreens as self-tanners offer no protection to your skin from UVA or UVB rays.

According to, self-tanners have been around in some form since 1960:

In 1960, Coppertone introduced its first sunless tanning product — QT® or Quick Tanning Lotion. This lotion produced an overall orange effect. Today’s sunless tanning products produce much more realistic results. Read more »

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

Summertime Acne Facts

With blonde hair and big blue eyes, she looked like a young Betty Draper from Mad Men. My patient, Julie, had been faithfully treating her acne for months. Just when it was starting to clear up (in time for her senior photos) — wham! – red dots cropped up over her forehead and cheeks. What went wrong? Summertime.

July can be the cruelest month for acne. Acne on the chest and back (bacne) and big, red pimples on your face can make going to the beach an embarrassing experience. Read more »

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

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