October 31, 2011

FDA new requirements for sunscreen labels

By next summer you will see many changes to sunscreen labels.  These changes are going to be required by the FDA and will provide us with more information about the sunscreen products we purchase. The FDA is taking some steps to help protect consumers from excessive sun exposure. This is great news for consumers!  This will make it easier to choose the right sun protection.

Sun Protection Tests
Some of the changes you will see on sunscreen labels will tell you if the sunscreen will help prevent skin cancer and sunburn or only help prevent sunburn. For the company to be able to label that it can prevent skin cancer and sunburn it will have to pass two tests.  The first one is a broad-spectrum test. This will tell us if the sunscreen can protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays.

The second one is a sun protection factor (spf) test to show us how well the sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn. Sunscreens that are not broad spectrum or that are broad spectrum with SPF values 2 to 14 will have a warning label that reads: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown to only help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”

Also, sunscreens cannot claim they protect immediately on application.  This means the sunscreen cannot say it provides instant protection or protection for more than two hours without reapplication unless they get approval from the FDA.

The FDA will be prohibiting companies from claiming the sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat proof”.  “Water resistant” is the new term you will start to see more.  For “water resisitant” to be on the label the product must pass another test to show how long the sunscreen keeps its SPF when the person goes into the water or sweats. The label will tell you if the protection lasts 40 or 80 minutes. If the sunscreen is not water resistant the label will have a warning.

Makeup & Moisturizers with SPF
The FDA will also be testing makeup and moisturizers that contain sunscreen.  These types of products will have to pass the FDA tests also.


The American Academy of Dermatology provided scientific information to the FDA to help develop these new rules.  Dermatologists are hoping these new rules will help reduce the risk for skin cancer. The labeling rules go in effect in June 2012. With rules like this consumers will be able to make better decisions in purchasing the right sun protection.

American Academy of Dermatology – www.aad.org
US Food & Drug Administration – www.fda.gov

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