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Sunscreen Labels

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The FDA’s current testing regulations allow consumers to know whether a sunning product is "broad spectrum," which means it protects against both ultraviolet rays A and B.

  • U-V-A rays are the main cause of skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Too many U-V-B rays can cause serious sunburn.


Janet Woodcock, M.D., the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has announced that. “The FDA has evaluated the data and developed testing and labeling requirements for sunscreen products.

This allows manufacturers to modernize their product information so that consumers can be well-informed on which products offer the greatest benefit,” said  “These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families.”

  • When it comes to a product's Sun Protection Factor, or SPF number, this lets people know how long they can stay out in the sun before they must reapply the product, sunscreens that have SPF values between 2 and 14 must be labeled as Broad Spectrum in order to be sold as sun protection.
  • But only products that are labeled as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.
  • Any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14, will be required to have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

The"FDA encourages consumers to protect themselves,” Woodcock added. “Not only should consumers regularly apply and reapply sunscreens with Broad Spectrum and SPF of 15 or higher, they should also limit sun exposure.”

People will also no longer see figures higher than SPF 50; just 50+. This is because the FDA says it doesn't have enough information to show that products with SPF numbers higher than 50 provide any additional protection.


The new labels also will tell consumers:

  • How much time they can use a "water resistant" product while either swimming or sweating before they lose protection.
  • Products will no longer be allowed to label themselves waterproof, sweat proof or call themselves sun blocks.
  • Some consumer activist groups, including Public Citizen have called for better testing on a number of over-the-counter products including sunscreens. Once the new label regulations are in effect (in about a year) the FDA hopes they will assure sunbathers that any product labeled "Broad Spectrum" and "SPF 15" or higher, not only protects against sunburn, but skin cancer as well, because it's been tested.

© LymphNotes.com 2013.This information does not replace the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'Living With Lymphedema' forum.
Category: Living With Lymphedema Updated: 2013-07-11


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