Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sunscreen 101: What You Need to Know about the New FDA Regulations

You know I love sunscreen and recommend EVERYONE use it every day.  This Summer we have a new set of rules (If you live in the US). Effective June 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for over-the-counter sunscreens will change the way you prepare for going out in the sun.  Even the word “sunblock” cannot be used anymore.  "Sunscreen" and "Sun Protection" are acceptable.  Words like “waterproof” and “sweatproof” are now forbidden on sunscreen labels.  However the term “water resistant” may be used on labeling.  The reason for the label changes is to set a standard of safety and effectiveness, so consumers can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families.

UVA, UVB, SPF, Broad Spectrum—what do they all really mean anyway? Below, two New York-based pharmacists—Uday Dave of the West Nyack Target store and Gule Rahi of the College Point Target store—clued us in. Here’s all you need to know.

1.  Products that do not pass the new ”Broad Spectrum” testing requirements or have a SPF value less than 15 are required to include a warning that states, “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”

2. Broad Spectrum sunscreens can include a label that states that using the product “as directed with other sun protection measures decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun.”

3. Only the term “water resistant” may now be used on labeling.

4. Labels must include the duration of water resistance provided by the product in two time periods: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

5. Products that claim to provide sun protection at a value higher than SPF 50 may only be labeled as SPF 50+ and not with a numerical SPF value higher than 50.  There is no compelling evidence that an SPF greater than 50 provides better protection than an SPF of 50.

Thank to my friends at A Bullseye View for providing this great infographic!


  1. Wow I don't know of this thanks for sharing now need see my sunscreen is which type

  2. Thanks for sharing,very useful information!

  3. Thank you for sharing! I had no idea these changes were taking place.

  4. Ha! Similar regulations that the ones we've had applied in the EU for a couple of years.

  5. I had no idea! This does make it much easier for people to choose a sunscreen that fits them

  6. Ooh, this is news to me! I wish they'd rein in the claims on even more products, personally.

  7. Thanks, Elvira! I did know label regulations were changing, but this simplified the change perfectly for me. You made it easy to understand. Thnx again!


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