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06-15-11 | Posted by

The new FDA ruling simplifies sunscreen for consumers; the two key things to remember are SPF 15+ and BROAD SPECTRUM.

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to sort out the confusion about sunscreens, with new rules that specify which lotions provide the best protection against the sun and ending claims that they are truly waterproof.  The F.D.A. said sunscreens must protect equally against two kinds of the sun’s radiation, UVB and UVA, to earn the coveted designation of offering “broad spectrum” protection. UVB rays cause burning; UVA rays cause wrinkling; and both cause skin cancer.

The rules go into effect in 2012 and also ban sunscreen manufacturers from claiming their products are waterproof or sweat proof because such claims are false. Instead, they will be allowed to claim in minutes the amount of time in which the product is water resistant, depending upon test results. Only sunscreens that have  SPF of 15 or higher will be allowed to maintain that they help prevent sunbrun and reduce the risks of  skin cancer and premature skin aging.

The regulators are still deciding on whether SPF numbers of 70, 80 and 100 even though such lotions offer more protection than those with an SPF of 50. Any product that has an SPF of 2 to 14 must include a warning that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging. The new rules will also standardize the testing that manufacturers must conduct for UVA protection.

The FDA concluded that spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, and recommends these 5 actions:

  1. Regularly use a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.
  2. Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  3. Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun (long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats).
  4. Use water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.
  5. Reapply sunscreen, even if it is labeled as water resistant, at least every 2 hours.

To read the full ruling: fda.gov/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines

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