Sunscreen Labels Now More Imformative

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

May 20, 2013

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and you're most likely thinking about bathing suits and sunscreen. When you buy sunscreen this year, you will notice that the bottle has new information on it.

For years, the FDA has been working on making sunscreen labels easier to understand. Sunscreen aisles will become more informational and by the end of the year, all of the bottles will be under the new regulations.

Dr. Brett Krasner, Board Certified Dermatologist at Family Dermatology of Albemarle, said, "They're making changes such that it becomes much more transparent and hopefully people will understand what they're applying and if they're getting the correct SPF promised."

The changes include any SPF values higher than 50 being taken off the bottle. It will now say "SPF 50+".

Dr. Krasner said, "Anybody in their right mind would think that if I have an SPF of 30 and then I went with the 60, I should get double the coverage. That's actually not correct. It's not linear. So, if SPF 30 blocks maybe 92 percent of the sun rays, SPF of 60 might be more like 95%. It's really not linear but it is definitely more protection and it gives you more time in the sun without getting burned."

Also, the words "sunblock" and "water proof" are exchanged for words that are less misleading.

Dr. Krasner said, "It's really not possible to completely block the sun. Something else you won't see if "waterproof" because it gives you that false sense of security that once you have it on, water will not penetrate or wash it off and that's not true."

The changes to the bottles will allow you to know exactly how you are protecting your skin.

Dr. Krazner said, "You'll also see water resistant, which I think is more accurate anyway. And, you'll see a time after that. It might say 40 minutes or 80 minutes telling you how much resistance to water this product will have. You're going to see the words broad spectrum. Before, people might have thought that they were getting broad spectrum which is defined as both UVB protection and UVA protection."

One nanny, Woo Kyung, puts sunscreen only on her face when she is outside but for the children, they get sunscreen all over. Kyung said the new labels won't change how she uses sunscreen.

Kyung said, "Some people really care about they label it, the SPF's and stuff. But, honestly, as long as it blocks the sunlight and if you reapply it every once and a while it's going to be good. I feel like changing the label won't really do much."

Dr. Krasner said the effectiveness of your sunscreen also depends on how you use it.

Dr. Krasner explained, "The right way to put sunscreen on is to first of all apply it 30 minutes before you get out into the sun. You want to allow it to dry and adhere to the cells and form almost umbrellas over the individual cells. Over your whole body you're supposed to put one ounce. If you think of an ounce, that's a whole shot glass. Nobody puts that much on. If you think about it, some people have the same tube of sunscreen for the entire summer. That should not be happening. "

The perfect sunscreen includes all of the new elements included on the bottle.

Dr. Krasner said. "As far as which brand to choose, truthfully, anything that promises broad spectrum coverage and an SPF of 30 or more, has water resistance of at least 40 minutes but 80 would be better and you reapply every two hours, I'm good with that."

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