Updated 06/14/2011 07:29 PM
FDA Outlines New Rules For Sunscreen Tests, Labels
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
The Food and Drug Administration is making a few changes when it comes to how companies test and label sunscreens.
The new guidelines will require manufacturers to test their products for strength against both Ultraviolet B (UVB) and the stronger Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which are most commonly linked with skin cancer.
Current regulations only require companies to test for UVB rays, which mainly cause sunburn.
The new regulations will give products that meet standards for protection against both kinds of rays a new label called "broad spectrum," to be used along with the current SPF label.
The FDA is also proposing to cap SPF values at 50 unless a company can prove their product is stronger.
Only products with an SPF of 15 or higher and a broad spectrum label will be able to claim they can help prevent sunburn, skin aging and skin cancer.
"Using sunscreens alone cannot protect against skin cancer or early skin aging. However, we feel sunscreen use, especially with the new labels, can contribute to lowering the risk of these outcomes of sun exposure," says Dr. Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Other changes are that sunscreens can no longer be labeled as "sunblock," because there is no proof any of them protect completely. They will also have to drop claims that they offer protection for more than two hours without reapplying, unless they can prove it.
Companies will not be able to say their products are "waterproof" or "sweatproof," but they can still say the products are "water-resistant."
Dermatologists say the changes will make a huge difference for consumers.
"One individual will die every hour from malignant melanoma, so it is important every day of the year to use a sunscreen," says Dr. Neil Sadick, a clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell. "It is important to have yourself examined by your dermatologist once a year, as you would go to your primary care physician."
FDA officials are also taking a closer look at sunscreen sprays more recently on the market. There is a concern they may not be as effective as lotions and creams, because how much is sprayed on the body is tougher to measure.