Sunscreen Finally Enters the 21st Century
Fourth of July weekend is here! Many of us will certainly be poolside or vacationing at the beach. Just a reminder to wear a hat and apply sunscreen liberally while in the sun. Enjoy your holiday but protect your skin to keep it looking youthful and beautiful for many years to come. Speaking of sunscreen… You’ve probably heard about some new changes to sunscreen labeling.
Did you know that the current FDA sunscreen regulations were written in 1978 and not updated since then? If you aren’t old enough to remember 1978, or need a reminder, 1978 was the year that “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees was a number one song, and people laid out in the sun using baby oil and reflective mirrors! Most sun lotions were intended to encourage tanning, not protect against it. So, finally after 33 years the Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to help consumers sort through the sunscreen mess. New FDA sunscreen rules will take a lot of the guesswork out of reading, understanding, and actually believing sunscreen labels.
No more false claims
You probably have strolled through the sunscreen aisles and seen the claims, “100 SPF”, “Waterproof all day”, “Even Works on Wet Skin”, and wondered how is that even possible? The FDA is hoping that the new rules, which go into effect in 2012, can get rid products of these false claims and make choosing a sunscreen much easier. The rules will now ban sunscreen manufacturers from claiming their products are waterproof, sweat proof or even calling them “sunblock”, because these claims far overstate the effectiveness. Instead, they will be allowed to claim in minutes (40 or 80) the amount of time in which the product is water resistant. And, only sunscreens that have an SPF of 15 or above will be allowed to advertise that they help prevent sunburn and reduce the risks of skin cancer and early skin aging.
Playing the numbers
As far as the numbers go, the FDA is still a little bit undecided. The FDA has clearly stated that sunscreens must protect equally against two kinds of the sun’s radiation, UVB and UVA, to be able to advertise that they offer “broad spectrum” protection. But federal regulators said they had yet to decide how to stop the SPF number wars, where manufacturers are introducing sunscreens with SPF numbers of 80 and beyond even though such lotions offer little to no more protection than those with an SPF of 50. The FDA has proposed that any sunscreen over SPF 50 be labeled 50+, but has given manufactures time to submit data on special populations that may see a benefit from SPF above 50.
While the new regulations should make the best sunscreens easier to choose, nothing replaces some common sense. Sunscreen alone is not enough to prevent skin cancer. In addition to sunscreen, you should limit your time in the sun to before 10 am and after 2 pm, wear protective clothing and sunglasses and seek shade whenever possible. The Paradise Valley Skin Klinic a carries a number of sunscreens to protect, heal, and maintain your skin. Contact us to help you choose one that is best for you!