Have you ever looked closely at your bottle of sunscreen? Is yours from a few years ago like mine? The FDA is setting new standards for sunscreen labeling so you know what kind of protection you’ll have with your product. Take a look at your bottle and see whether your sunscreen makes the cut.
UVA, UVB, Broad Spectrum and SPF Protection
You might be asking “What in the the world are UVA and UVB?” Sunburn is primarily caused by ultraviolet B radiation (UVB). Ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) doesn’t burn your skin, but can cause invisible damage leading to skin cancer and premature skin aging. Broad Spectrum protection of the sun’s rays will keep your skin safer this summer.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on skin with the sunscreen on, relative to the amount required without the sunscreen.
Starting next year the FDA is requiring the label on your sunscreen to be marked Broad Spectrum and have an SPF between 15 and 50 and will only be allowed on the market if their product is backed up by testing.
But what about this year? What should you look for?
You should look for: UVA & UVB protection and an SPF 15 or higher. Any claims of waterproof or sweat-proof or of lasting longer than 2 hours should be doubted since those won’t be allowed on the labels under the new standards unless proven by data. SPF numbers greater than 50 won’t be allowed either.
Sun Safety Tips
Spending time in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. To reduce this risk, consumers should regularly use sun protection measures including:
- Use sunscreens with Broad Spectrum protection and SPF 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
- Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
Find more information at the library about melanoma and other skin cancers to keep your skin safe and healthy.
And the bottom line? Be careful in the sun and pick up a new bottle of sunscreen next year when the regulations take effect so you and your family are well-protected.