The FDA has new regulations regarding the labeling of sunscreens. Three rules which should make choosing safe and effective products easier than before include:
- Sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays will be labeled “broad spectrum” and sunscreens that don’t will need to have a warning label.
Ryan Jaslow explains why both UVA and UVB protection is important:
UVA rays are thought to be responsible for aging and wrinkling of the skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, while UVB rays are the main culprit behind sunburn. Both increase your risk for skin cancers including deadly melanoma.
- Sunscreen makers now have to show how long their product stays on in water before having to be reapplied — either 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Using the terms “waterproof” or “sweat-proof” is not enough.
- Sunscreens with SPF less than 15 will be required to have a label warning consumers that it does not protect against skin cancer or skin aging.
Your best bet is to buy a broad spectrum, high SPF (greater than 30) sunscreen that should be reapplied every 80 minutes if your skin gets wet. Other helpful sun tips:
- Stay out of the sun! Find shade where you can, wear a wide-brimmed hat, wear lightweight clothes to cover arms and legs, keep a shirt on, even when swimming.
- Avoid summer sun exposure between 10 am and 5 pm.
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun.
- Use plenty of sunscreen. Don’t be stingy!
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours and more frequently if sweating or swimming. (Golfers: apply on the first tee and again at the turn. And don’t forget to get the top of your ears, nose, and chin, as well as your neck!)
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
More sun safety tips from the Environmental Working Group here.