New Sunscreen Guidelines Make Sun Protection Easier

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If you think that selecting the right sunscreen has gotten more confusing over the past few years, you’re not alone. Fortunately,  just yesterday the FDA announced new guidelines for sunscreen labels that should make it easier to choose the best protection for your skin. Here’s a summary of the new guidelines (which will be reflected on product labels over the next year):

  • Sunscreen manufacturers can no longer claim that their products are “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” because those claims are false. They can, however, call them “water-resistant.”
  • Sunscreens that pass the FDA’s test for protection against both UVB and UVA rays can be labeled “Broad Spectrum.” Sunburn is typically caused by UVB rays and signs of aging are caused by UVA, so it’s a good idea to choose a Broad Spectrum sunscreen.
  • A product must have an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 in order to claim that it protects against sunburn and early aging.
  • If a sunscreen has an SPF of 2 to 14, it must include a warning that it has not been shown to protect against skin cancer or early aging.

Another point that is still on the table but has not reached final approval: A proposal that the maximum SPF rating should not exceed 50, since there is no data to show that higher ratings are more effective at protecting against the sun’s rays.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: One of the most important factors to protecting your skin with sunscreen is to use it properly. So, apply it generously (at least a golf ball size per application) and be sure to reapply every 40 to 60 minutes. For more sunscreen tips and to learn more about the SPF system , take a look at The Best Sun Protection Plan for Rain or Shine.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.