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What Should You Know About the FDA’s New Sunscreen Rules?

The FDA recently announced some new rules about how sunscreen can be marketed. While it’s important to make sure you’re using a safe sunscreen, I like seeing that the FDA is taking steps to handle the many excessive claims made by marketers about sunscreen. These changes will officially go into effect the summer of 2012, but companies can change over sooner.

The FDA says that one of the big reasons they’re making changes is because the old rules only covered UVB protection, but modern testing can also determine how much protection the sunscreen provides against UVA.

Sunscreens must be tested in order to make a broad spectrum protection claim, which would mean that they have UVA and UVB protection. Sunscreens without that label will protect against sunburn only.

Sunscreens may not be labeled waterproof or sweatproof, only water resistant. This is because such claims make the sunscreens sound as though they protect better than they do. The claims must indicate whether the sunscreen is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes, so it’s clearer when it must be reapplied for protection.

One more rule to limit the claimed SPF to a maximum of 50+ is under consideration. This is because it is not clear that any sunscreen products provide protection better that the protection provided by 50 SPF sunscreens.

Of course, new rules or old, you’re best off making sure that you buy a safe sunscreen. It’s better to be comfortable with the things you’re putting on your skin, even when you’re trying to protect it from other kinds of damage.