Consumer, beware of misleading sunscreen labels in your local drug stores this summer. Last Friday (May 11, 2012) the Food and Drug Administration announced it will no longer force sunscreen manufactures to change their labels to better inform consumers by June 18, 2012. Manufactures now have until December 2012, a six month extension, and smaller manufactures will have as long as December 2013. The decision to extend the deadline stemmed from a concern that sunscreen demand would outweigh supply of sunscreen if bottles had to be removed from shelves due to inaccurate labeling. This gives sunscreen manufactures more time to change over to the new guidelines without diminishing supply.
Over the summer, expect to see labels that state “waterproof”, “sweatproof” or “sunblock”, even though dermatologists claim them to be misleading. Board Certified Dermatologist Jamie Davis, M.D, says, “No sunscreen blocks 100% of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, so calling it sunblock provides a false sense of security to consumers. Also, the SPF rating on sunscreen only rates UVB (burning) rays, not UVA (aging) rays. Consumers will need to look for labels that state ‘broad spectrum’ on the bottle for UVA and UVB protection and at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 plus to prevent sunburn and skin cancer.” On new labels, only sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher that also pass a broad spectrum test will be able to claim “prevents skin cancer”. A mix of old and new labels will appear on the shelves throughout summer as some manufactures have already changed their labeling standards.
To protect skin, Dr. Davis recommends purchasing sunscreens that are SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum and water or sweat-resistant. Also look for active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Apply at least a shot glass full to exposed skin (not applying enough is a common mistake). Continue to reapply throughout the day. For the best protection, members of the American Academy of Dermatology recommend using sun protective clothing as the primary form of protection in the sun including a wide brim hat, sunglasses and clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50.
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.