With all the chit chat over sunscreen lately, the new regulations that are being put in place by the FDA regarding sunscreen claims has brought new light to the ever present “What do I buy?” question. Whether you buy sunscreen thinking of the protection versus the ingredients, these new regulations will be a step forward. Since the SPF numbers on sunscreens in major stores started soaring up into the range of 80 to even 100, I had a gut feeling that those claims were not all they were cracked up to be.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The theory is that depending on the SPF number, times 10 (minutes) is how long you could “theoretically” stay in the sun without burning. So if SPF 15 means 150 minutes than SPF 100 means you can stay in the sun for 1,000 minutes without burning? Seems an unlikely claim. The SPF number really does not correspond with how much time you can spend in the sun especially when you consider what you do in the sun – swim, run, play, use towels, etc. And to make matters even more confusing, SPF only relates to UVB protection. UVA protection is not included in the SPF number. The new phrase that pays is going to be “Broad Spectrum”. This means that it will protect you against UVB AND UVA rays.
In brief here are what the new regulations will cover:
- Starting next summer, sunscreens with less than an SPF of 15 or that aren’t “broad spectrum” will have to carry a warning label: “This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
- The FDA will prohibit sunscreen marketing claims like “waterproof” and “sweatproof,” which they said “are exaggerations of performance.”
- The FDA also proposes capping the highest SPF value at 50, unless companies can provide results of further testing that support a higher number.
- FDA says manufacturers must phase out a four-star system currently used by some companies to rate UVA protection.
- FDA wants sunscreen labels to advise consumers that using a sunscreen is just one way they can protect themselves against the sun.
But lucky for those of us who have insisted on choosing safer sunscreens for years, sunscreen ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide already have broad spectrum protection. *grin* Until next summer, be sure to choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection with an SPF of 30 or higher.