Navigating New Sunscreen Labels

little boy applying sunscreen

With the warm weather approaching, people are starting to wear a lot less clothing. But everyone, regardless of skin color, can get skin cancer.

New regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should make choosing an effective sunscreen easier this summer. The American Academy of Dermatology and dermatologists across the country feel that these new labeling requirements will help consumers make good decisions when choosing a sunscreen.

  • According to the FDA, sunscreen labels are now required to provide information about whether a sunscreen will protect against skin cancer and premature skin aging, as well as reducing the risk of sunburn.
  • Sunscreen labels are banned from using terms such as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” because they are misleading and can result in an over-estimation of how much sun protective factor (SPF) the wearer is actually receiving.  
  • On the new labels, people will see whether the sunscreen is Broad Spectrum and has an SPF of 15 or higher, which means it has met the FDA testing requirements to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and helps prevent skin cancer and sunburn.
  • The labels will provide information on water resistance up to 40 or 80 minutes, the time the wearer can safely sweat or swim and still be protected.

Although choosing the right sunscreen for you and your family is important, it is just one component of a complete sun protection program. To best protect the skin from the sun’s damaging rays, avoid the sun when it is the strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), wear sunglasses, a hat and sun-protective clothing, seek shade whenever possible, and of course wear that sunscreen!