The FDA (Finally) Cracks Down on SPF Rules!

It’s hard to believe that until now, the FDA’s rules were so utterly and completely lack luster.  I consider myself a connoisseur of sunscreen; friends, family and sometimes strangers ask me questions on a regular basis and I try not to go on a long 20 minute rant about how no, they should not use tanning oil with SPF 8 as their daily sun protection and no, they should not use the bottle of Hawaiian Tropic they’ve been using since 1998.

After 33 years with no major sunscreen label changes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally decided to set some rules – waaay behind Europe, I might add.  2012 is going to be a big, HUGE year for SPF awareness!  Here are the main changes:

  • Broad Spectrum: Only sunscreens that pass a test proving they shield from both UVA and UVB bays can be called broad spectrum.
  • SPF Ratings: Only those sunscreens with an SPF rating of 15 or higher can claim protection against wrinkles, skin cancer and sun damage and they must include the following: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early aging.  This product has been shown to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early aging.”
  • Is it waterproof? Manufacturers can no longer use the terms “sunblock,” “waterproof,” or “sweatproof.”   Water-resistant WILL be allowed, as long as the label clarifies whether it will last for 40 or 80 minutes.
  • How long does it last? Sunscreens can no longer make claims that they provide immediate protection OR provide protection for more than two hours without reapplication, unless approved by the FDA.
  • How much is too much SPF? Due to lack of evidence that SPFs over 50 provide extra protection, the FDA also plans on banning sunscreens with an over 50 SPF label.
  • And how does that SPF come? Unique SPF products such as wipes, towelettes, powders, etc. can no longer be marketed without special approval.  As for sprays (one of my personal faves!), the FDA will require manufacturers to submit data on their effectiveness and whether or not they pose safety concerns due to inhalation.

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