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The FDA’s New SPF Rules

Written on June 15, 2011 at 9:35 am , by

After decades (!) of deliberation and anticipation, the Food and Drug Administration recently revealed new rules regulating sunscreens that will go into effect in a year. Here, a brief crib sheet on what you need to know:6877099-woman-applying-sunscreen-lotion-lotion-at-the-beach-rear-view

  • In order to be labeled “broad spectrum”, sunscreens must provide equal and adequate UVA (wrinkle and cancer-causing rays) and UVB (burning and cancer-causing rays) protection.
  • Sunscreen companies will be banned from labeling their products as “sunblock”, “waterproof” or “sweatproof”; instead, they’ll be able to indicate on the packaging  how many minutes the sunscreen resists water, based on FDA-reviewed tests results.
  • Any sunscreen under SPF 15 or without a proportionate amount of UVA and UVB protection will have to include a label that states that the product does not provide protection against skin cancer or skin aging.
  • The FDA has yet to decide on one additional rule: Whether to ban the labeling of SPFs above 50. They are still accepting comments about this proposed regulation.

What do you think about the new sunscreen rules?

  • kaliris roque

    I luv the idea,is kind of hard to pick the right spf cuz u dont really know how to get a tan without damaging ur skin…. Cant wait for this new sunscreen rules to be on d labels :)

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  • Doug

    You can’t get a tan without damaging your skin. ALL tan is bad.

  • Clara

    I think that all above 50 should be banned bc it is doing more harmthen good since anything above 50 doesnt provide any more protection unless you are at very high elevations. It also prevents Vitamin D from being absorbed in your system which is essential. Most people are unaware of these facts and just buy the highest bc they dont want to burn

  • Lindsey

    I have always bought the highest spf b/c of my fair skin that will burn w/i 20 minutes whether I’m wearing sunscreen or not. :) So, if it is true that any spf above 50 doesn’t provide any further protection, then it should be labeled appropriately. As for the above comment about tanning w/o damaging the skin – tanning will cause your skin to age prematurely; I have never read any article or study that has proven otherwise.

  • Amanda

    I don’t think above 50 should be banned, but maybe put warnings on the label so people know what it does. I usually get 45-50 because I’m pale and burn easily, it’ll be nice to know how long it’s actually protecting me.

  • Sue

    As an avid golfer I spend a lot of time in the sun. Personal experience has proven to me that suncreens 100 or above absolutely DO provide better and longer protection from the sun. If I use a 35 or 50 I WILL GET BURNED after about an hour. If I apply a 100 or above I can last about 2 hours without getting burned. And even using a high number sunscreen I still get a bit of color- no sunscreen totally blocks therefore, I don’t worry about Vitamin D (at least in the summer).

  • Aeri

    I think the FDA should also work on banning all the chemicals in their products, especially oxybenzone. This is a chemical that is absorbed into our bodies, and may cause cell damage- which could cause cancerous cells. Best to stay away and try natural sunscreens with titanium dioxide/zinc oxide.These just sit on the skin and reflect light.

  • Emily

    I would like to see further research on the effectiveness of SPF over 50. I always buy and use 100-110 SPF, as I am very fair skinned but love to be outside. From what I have experienced, I think the higher SPF does last longer and keep out more sun, but I haven’t done any scientific studies. :) I’ll be looking for more info and research on that, but in the meantime I will continue to buy the highest SPF I can find–just in case. :) I guess in reality, we should all be in long sleeves, pants, and big floppy hats like my crazy mom!

    If you have fair skin like me, I wouldn’t leave your skin up to natural sunscreens–I would be toast in a half hour!! I would rather risk the chemicals than burn horribly and damage my skin. A bad burn is the worst and makes life miserable! Not to mention the consequences that come later in life…

    Also–there is NO tan that doesn’t damage your skin. We just have to accept that.

  • Helen

    There are too many health concerns with sunscreens….I wouldn’t put them on my skin. Sunscreens block 97.5 to 99.0% of vitamin D. A better choice is coconut oil or olive oil.

  • sara

    I am very fair skinned as well, and I use natural. I find it works better actually, and safe cosmetics has it listed as low as a 1 so it doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals. I used Badger brand lightly scented sunscreen while I was in Florida for a week last month. NO burn…none! And I got a little bit of a tan. Badger uses zinc oxide…which, yes, sits on the skin and reflects light. For some people that just feels to heavy on the skin. I liked it because I could literally tell if it was still on and when too much had worn off while I was swimming. It comes out of the tube a little slow, but if you set it outside in the heat to warm up a little it goes on easier.

  • http://www.blissfulblunders.com Blissful Babe

    I think it’s about time!!

  • http://www.blissfulblunders.com Blissful Babe

    I also wanted to add and agree that NO tan is safe. I would LOVE one, but I would NOT love the effects. I rather be pale and healthy.

    I’ve often heard that there was no difference in protection once you got over 35. Apparently, this is false information! I’m all for getting a higher SPF.

    And as far as chemicals goes, I hate to say it, but there is a chemical in everything these days. Your makeup, your water, your food. We can’t escape it. Of course there are ‘Natural’ products, but are they *really* any better? Are they *really* worth the exorbitant prices??

    I suppose it all depends on who you are and how wealthy you are. :)

    I just got the most adorable, floppy sun hat. I might put it to use with my SPF 45 today. :)

  • Meredith

    I have been told by a person who works in lab for a cosmetics company that there really is no higher spf than 15 no matter what the bottle says.

  • Sarah

    Same here, I was told by a relative who worked with these products said the same thing, you can’t really get an actual SPF rating higher than 15. Having said that, i’ve used SPF’s of all different ratings and the only difference I noticed was that I had to reapply the lesser ones more frequently but ultimately got the same results. And those of you “not worried about Vitamin D” I hope you are taking supplements since you need Vitamin D for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus! (otherwise enjoy osteoporosis later)

  • Sari

    We don’t actually need much direct sunlight for our bodies to produce sufficient Vit D: Ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure at least two times per week to the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen is usually sufficient to provide adequate vitamin D.

  • marie

    Rules should also be placed regarding the ingredients of sunscreens… People should avoid Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone) and other ingredients that can be absorbed into the blood… Many top brand sunscreens contain these ingredients! The public needs to be informed of these dangers… Everyone should check out this website to see if their sunscreen is on the avoidance list…. http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/

  • Terin

    You don’t get any V-D with sunscreen. Get a good supplement and wear sunscreen. Don’t make big deal out of it. But get your D; read up and learn how important it is for just about every function of your body. Get your kiddos on it too! D3 because not all D is alike and it is more bioavailable to your body.

  • Susan

    Great ideas! They should be required to put on expiration dates…and how effective are those if product is out in heat repeatedly?

  • veryshygirl

    Maybe leave well enough alone. People should just use their commonsense about how much sun they are getting. Everyone is different. Ban above 50spf? What sense does that make? Also, do they really think that changing the label on a bottle is going to change how people use sunscreen or how much sun they get? Really? Warnings or concerns are one thing but completely changing the bottle label is rather an dumb idea. People are going to do what they want to do. Maybe like, let them live their lives without holding their hands?

  • Amy

    So heres my take…Always wear some kind of protection! I use a 25 on my face every day that has been teretology tested and is zinc oxcide based. I wear long sleeves and pants that are loose fitting in the summer months that are breathy, WITH SUNSCREEN SPRAYED ON THEM or I buy clothing that is UVA and UVB resistant. Just because you are covered doesn’t mean you cant burn or even tan for that matter! I lived in CO in higher elevations for most of my life and there have been several memebers of my family that have had precanerous cells on their face and skin. I take care of my body through fitness, so I take care of skin. I have tooo many other skin issues (rosecia) to want to cause more later in life!

  • Anna v

    I think it is time the public become better informed. Being very fair skinned myself, I always sought the highest SPF. Becoming an esthetician taught me alot that I want to share with so many. Anything above a 30 SPF is basically more of a chemical sunscreen. These chemicals can have a reaction in the sun when exposed to the sun causing burns instead of keeping you from burning. Any SPF that is 30 and below provides the best protection when reapplied every hour while exposed to the sun. It is time that people know this simple fact about sunscreen.

  • http://www.swisscorrectiveskincare.com Kate

    What is the truth about Sun Block 100 SPF?

    As I check out at the market last night, I saw a sports sun screen 100 SPF. Not the first time, mind you. My blood again was boiling of the upsetting misinformation about the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) saga.
    FDA is busy telling us every day, what is good and what is not good. But why not informing the consumer the truth about the SPF numbers, puzzles me a great deal.

    Here is the reality of the SPF. The numbers what you read on the sun screen/block bottles, tubes, jars, etc, is a measured/calculated time length by a 20 minute sun expose without any real danger to your skin..
    When your skin is sun exposed over 20 minutes, the sun rays, UVA, UVB, UVC, will penetrated your skin layers enough to cause you an alert. If you are sunbathing more than 20 minutes, the sun rays are no longer friendly to your skin.

    These are the calculations of SPF numbers.

    SPF 15 15 (SPF) X 20 minutes = 300 minutes = 5 hours/day sun protection
    SPF 30 30 (SPF) X 20 minutes = 600 minutes = 10 hours/day sun protection
    SPF 70 70 (SPF) X 20 minutes = 1400 minutes = 23.+ hours/day sun protection
    SPF 100 100 (SPF) X 20 minutes = 2000 minutes = 33.+ hours/day sun protection

    24 hours for my planet Earth. Or, are we misinformed?

    Remember, SPF 30 is enough. Always use common sense. If you are in the water, swimming, bathing etc, naturally reapply your sun block.

    Be safe, have fun, enjoy your sunny days. :-)

  • Tori Bartolozzi

    How will makeup products with SPF be affected by these new regulations? I know that even if I’m not going to be outside all day, its wise to still use products with SPF in them-especially on my face.

  • Qweniah

    This is a good idea. A lot of people, and I mean most of the people I know- don’t hardly know anything about protecting their skin and how to properly use sunscreen. I think it’s really funny when people try to go tanning- (especially caucasian)men and women whether it’s in a tanning bed or outside on the patio; they always end up looking damaged or orange! Fair people should always use sunscreen with high SPF. I think the new labels will help out a lot of people, so they can choose the right SPF for them better with the correct labeling. Maybe it will reduce the amount of lobsters; who knows! :D

  • Anne-Marie

    I am glad they are doing this, companies have been selling sunscreens for years that don’t fully protect you just by putting a higher number on them. Companies do this all the time, like lower sodium sea salt, salt is salt, whether from the sea or a salt mine, it is the same and no better or worse for you.

    As for chemicals in sunscreen, those need to be regulated, you know the FDA has only banned 8 chemicals from being used in health in beauty products while in Europe companies like the FDA have banned over 100. So yes, natural products if they are really natural are better for you. You however have to really research what you buy to make sure it is really natural, Hint the less ingredients in it and the use of names that you can actually pronounce is usually a good way to tell.

    Also natural sunscreens work just as well. Used them over the 4th, and didn’t burn at all and I have fair skin.

    Oh and the person who said to use oil’s instead of sunscreen, your not too bright as using oil on your skin will cause your skin to tan and burn faster, why do you think they make tanning oils, to help you tan. However it can help repair sun damage if applied after sun exposure (studies have suggested it might even slow the growth of cancer,) as well as protect your skin from other harmful pollutants.

    I think you can tan and limit the damage to your skin with sunscreen. You just have to be consistent in wearing it, like on your face everyday. I mean people have been tanning since the beginning of time, granted they weren’t laying out in the sun like we do but they were hunting, gathering, planting, and generally working outside. Wear sunscreen and you’ll most likely be fine in the sun. I am a child of a baby boomer, the reason most of them are getting skin cancer now a days is because they didn’t have sunscreen when they were young. My mom didn’t have sunscreen until she was in high school.

    Oh and to the person who says people look orange when they tan, I don’t know who your hanging out with but the people I know who tan (naturally in the sun) always look normal.

    Those are just my thoughts, I do believe everyone should wear sunscreen though.

  • Nikki

    Well, actually, there are definitely certain products you can use for indoor tanning that make your skin UBER ORANGE. Such as one particular European Gold product… forget the name at the moment….. But anyway, I wouldn’t say any kind of tan is damaging, it depends on if you use the proper sunscreen, how long you lay out (or stay in the bed), and just how dark you intend on getting. But I didn’t know that all the old people are getting cancer. Heck, I knew one lady who had it, but it wasn’t that severe. And my family spends waaaay too much time outside and all we get is freckles. (which blows, by the way) But I guess it depends on the people. But for the most part and to make it clear, I am an advocate of sunscreen, it protects against cancer and freckles! :)

  • neke

    is there really a need for an spf 50? i say wear a hat or some sheer clothing if you want to prevent sun damage.

  • Tobi Nelson

    I agree with anyone who is fair skinned. I am a red head with freckles and all. I hardly go outside because of sunburn. I did not think anythng over 50 would work. I then went to Iraq and found an SPF 70. Worked great. Then last summer I saw and tried SPF 100. I love it. I like to be outdoors. Now I can.

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